Luke 6:38 doesn’t mention grace, or does it?
Did you ever check out on a class lecture? Maybe you checked out when a parent was talking? Why do people do that? They are sure they already know everything the speaker is going to say.
Luke 6:38 is misunderstood and one problem is how well the verse is known. It’s challenging to help people grasp what it means. They tend to check out before the process begins. If you are still reading you haven’t checked out and blessings are in store. Stay with me! 🙂 This promise is so much more than it appears.
What does it say?
To know that, one must have some knowledge of middle eastern markets. Our purchases come prepackaged and they are sold by weight. The open air markets of Jesus’ day (and many today) sell goods by volume. So let’s pretend to buy some grain.
The buyer arrives at the market. Sellers have their goods spread out for inspection. Buyer and seller begin to haggle (this scene is still played out today). When an agreement is reached, the buyer brings out his container (no plastic bags from Wal-Mart!). The buyer scoops some grain into his container. Now it gets interesting.
The buyer’s container appears to be full. See how fast you can find some version of this phrase in your kitchen cabinets:
Contents may have settled during shipping
The buyer shakes his container. Sure enough, the contents settle and the container is no longer full. The buyer scoops up more grain and pours into his container. But all the grain doesn’t fit. It begins to overflow when the container is full. No worries! All of this has taken place over the lap of the buyer. And I’ve just confused everyone who wears pants or dresses.
In Jesus’ day, robes were gathered in the front to carry things. You might say robes were used as a built-in shopping bag. The buyer’s container is full and he has caught the overflow in his lap. He goes home with both!
That is the imagery Jesus used to teach God’s promise and grace. It’s quicker to illustrate this to American listeners with brown sugar. Cooks know brown suger is measured into a cup and pressed down and packed in. The first ‘measurement‘ of brown sugar is never what it appears. The pack-down has to take place before the measurement is accurate.
What does it mean?
God is showing how He intends to reward our obedience. It’s grace on display. Luke 6:30 says we are to give to everyone who asks of us. So we know:
- God expects obedience
- God rewards obedience
- When you give, God gives back to you
- God uses your own measure in order to give to you
Applying the principles: Do you give to others from a teacup or a five-gallon bucket? Shorter version: Do you give like your Father?
What does it not mean?
Our Father gives. He is the Perfect Father Who knows how to give good gifts to His children. He is the One Who can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. He rewards those who seek Him.
As true as all this, Luke 6:38 does not say our Father rewards us in kind. A common misapplication by some name-it-claim-it TV evangelists goes like this:
If you’ll give God $100, He will pay you back with $1,000.00
It’s questionable if anyone but the evangelist got any of the first $100.00. The proportion of reward in the illustration is certainly within God’s ability. He can even do much more. However, there is no place (including Luke 6:38) where God promises to give us more of the same things we give to Him.
That thought belittles Him. He can and will give us the best gifts. That may or may not be something similar to what we gave. That puts His giving into the unpredictable, unimagineable category. And that’s exactly where you want it! But there’s another problem. See you tomorrow!