Luke 14:12,13 When you give a dinner…do not invite your friends… lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.
I turned into a coffee shop in the city a few days ago, only to see a man on the corner holding a sign. Help, homeless, hungry. God bless… I did not want to help and I did not want his blessing. I wanted a cup of coffee, which I proceeded to purchase. As usual, my conscience started in on me. I objected with my standard objection. He’s just going to use it to buy alcohol or drugs.
In the end, I soothed my conscience by giving him a couple dollars as I drove by. I thought about stopping and offering to buy him something to eat. I could have given of my time, but I had coffee to drink and stuff to do. Frankly, the couple of dollars I gave was as much to buy off my conscience as it was to help him. I just did not want to get involved. I cannot help everyone… He’s made his choices… He will take advantage of my generosity…
I do not mind giving to my friends. I am happy to loan my pickup to those who can afford to fix it if they break it. I know my tools are in safe hands of those whom I trust. I am happy to do for those who can do for me. I invite those into my life whom I like and who can reciprocate.
Jesus said this is not how real love works though. In today’s passage, he said that when we do only for those who can return the favor to us, we are just investing. We are basically performing a service for a fee.
When we do for those who cannot repay however, we are showing authentic love. Real love costs me something. It costs time, effort, kindness and perhaps money. When I choose to love those less fortunate than me, the poor, the imprisoned, or the addicted, I will likely never be repaid. I am to give because Jesus told me to give and because He gave to me when I had nothing to give back. I am to love because He first loved me.
In my me-addiction, I rebel against this kind of love. I want to love only those who look nice, smell nice and who can repay my kindness. I do not want to get my hands dirty. I do not want love to cost me anything and I do not want anyone to take advantage of my generosity. Jesus almost guarantees however, that love will be taken advantage of, in the sense that it will not be repaid by the recipient.
Jesus himself promises the repayment though. He tells me that when I love, I will be blessed. It is only when I turn my focus away from me and follow God, that I am filled with him. When I pursue and serve me, I am filled with only me. I cannot follow God and me at the same time. It is only in loving God and loving others, that am I filled with his life, which is worth infinitely more than the few dollars I may sacrifice.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.