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God’s Word for You

Luke 14:12-14 unselfish love

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 20, 2018

Was the host feeling smug that at least he hadn’t pushed anyone over to get at the good seats at his own banquet? But Jesus has a message for him, too.

12 He also said to the host, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they will probably invite you back, and you would be repaid.

Jesus isn’t telling us that we must never give anything to someone who might give something back. In fact, our current culture of giving and receiving Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, wedding gifts and so on, is based largely on the knowledge that we might get something in return. What is being criticized by our Savior is the temptation to call such a thing charity, since true charity expects nothing in return. Today, a man who gives to a charity (we often call them “non-profits” or “not-for-profit organizations”) is frequently (not always) doing so to get a tax credit, and therefore he is getting something in return for his “gift.” He is being repaid, even if the one who receives his gift needs the gift badly.

13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

A truly generous gift is one that expects nothing in return. It also would be more than giving a crippled or lame man one single banquet. What would be better would be to practice unselfish love. When Jesus says that we will be repaid in the resurrection, he does not mean that we will find a truckload of all the gifts we ever gave for Christmas, or weddings, or birthdays over the years. Who needs a cartload of crock pots in heaven? Nor should we expect a tally of the number of banquets we threw for the poor. Rather, God desires to lavish us with his own unselfish love, and he wants us to understand what that kind of love truly is.

Christ’s unselfish love took our sins to the cross. “How great,” John cries, “is the love the Father has lavished on us” (1 John 3:1). “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin” (1 John 3:4-5). Paul puts the selfless love of Christ in the same terms: “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).

There is no payment we can ever make to repay God for granting us eternal life. All we can do is what he has asked us to do out of thanks: we thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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