I’ve been working through the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6 as I wrestle with what Jesus wants. It and the Sermon on the Mount could be called the Christian Code of Conduct. I like the Amplified because it opens up the language, but I still have questions. So they’ll be in italic.
“And looking toward His disciples, He began speaking: “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are you who are poor [in spirit, those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for the kingdom of God is yours [both now and forever]. 21 Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are you who hunger now [for righteousness, actively seeking right standing with God], for you will be [completely] satisfied. Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are you who weep now [over your sins and repent], for you will laugh [when the burden of sin is lifted]. 22 Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people hate you, and exclude you [from their fellowship], and insult you, and scorn your name as evil because of [your association with] the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for their fathers used to treat the prophets in the same way.”Luke 6:20-23
I’m to think of myself less and be without spiritual arrogance. That’s relatively simple. I’m not wrestling with that at the moment.
I am living in ongoing repentance (Romans 12:1-2) as I actively seek right-standing with God. No factor.
Expecting to be hated, excluded, insulted for following Jesus? That’s happening; it happens whenever anyone stands firm on something.
These are contrasted with “Woes” in Luke 6:24-26. They’re warnings not to place trust in possessions, live a self-indulgent life, or try to be loved by the crowd.
I wrote off to the side that Jesus was divisive in word and deed.
Then there’s the hard part. Loving your enemies. That’s in Luke 6:27-36.
“But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, 28 bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend [money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount. 35 But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.”Luke 6:27-36
What’s that mean? Am I to have fond feelings for them?
It agape love, not an emotion, to unselfishly seek the best or higher good for my enemies.
What does that look like?
Do good to them, lend not expecting it back, and then you’ll be a child of God whose kind, gracious, and good to the ungrateful and wicked.
The lack of lightning hitting everyone is a good example of that. Is there a limit? God has a stopping point called the judgment. Is His judgment my stopping point?
Do I passively let them harm my family or me? It’s not loving to let anyone hurt them. I think to love your neighbor means sometimes you have to stop someone from hurting them.
That might mean not physically seeking the aggressor’s good when they get taken down.
Bless and show kindness to those who curse you. Pray FOR them (not against) those who mistreat you.
Can I stop the abuse? I can still pray for them without allowing harm to come. Rory Miller, retired jail guard, called it othering by behavior.
It didn’t dehumanize convicts by seeing them as less than human. It was cause and effect. Do this and this happens. No anger or hate is needed.
What kind of abuse do I have to endure?
Luke says petty insults or losses. Don’t bother to retaliate. Facebook comments, for example. It’s the turn-the-other-cheek teaching.
This was probably harder to swallow in an honor/shame culture or one where everyone is easily offended.
The funny thing is that when Jesus was slapped in John 18:22-23, he demanded they explain themselves. Paul was hit in Acts 23:2-3 and shouted, “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?”
That wasn’t passively turning the cheek. They spoke up.
After this, it says that whoever takes your property, don’t withhold anything else either. Don’t stop a thief? It tells you don’t demand it back, anything stolen or borrowed. (Give to whoever asks.)
Can I call the cops? Romans 13 says the government doesn’t wield the sword lightly and punishes lawbreakers.
We’re to be proactive and set the example, treating others as we want to be treated. Friend and foe alike.
It’s easy to do with people I like. But anyone can do that. Christ-followers are to go beyond that.
“Do not judge [others self-righteously], and you will not be judged; do not condemn [others when you are guilty and unrepentant], and you will not be condemned [for your hypocrisy]; pardon [others when they truly repent and change], and you will be pardoned [when you truly repent and change].38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”Luke 6:37-38
The oft-quoted “judge not.” It’s a bit richer. Do not self-righteously judge or condemn them when I’m guilty or unrepentant. Then I won’t be a hypocrite.
Matthew 7 says that if you’re not a hypocrite, you can confront. Nothing says you have to affirm or turn a blind eye to wrong-doing. On the contrary, parts of the Bible say to expose it.
The Amplified says to pardon others when they’re genuinely repentant and change. That sounds like a judicial context.
Is pardon a synonym for forgiveness? There’s a tension between this and forgiving people 70 times 7. Apparently, in that example, someone isn’t changing that much.
Forgiveness is refusing to get even, but you don’t have to restore the relationship. Is pardoning that restoration?
If you generously do good, then good will come. This passage is based on the sowing and reaping principle. You harvest what you plant in life.
Next is a warning to not be so concerned with others’ wrong-doing that I overlook my sins or failings.
Then, to know people, watch what they do rather than say. The intrinsically good person produces what is good, honorable, and moral from what is stored in their heart. The evil person produces what is wicked and depraved. We speak and act from the overflow of our hearts.
That’s why Proverbs says to guard your heart.
You can’t call Jesus Lord if you don’t practice what he says. And he says some hard things that I’m working through.