In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the crowd’s expectations, “You have heard it said…Do not commit murder…Do not commit adultery…Give your wife a certificate of divorce…Keep your vows…An eye for an eye…Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (Mt 5), and kicks it up a notch with, “But I say…Don’t be angry with your brother…Don’t lust after a woman… Don’t divorce…Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ without the necessity of a vow…Repay evil with good…Love your enemies” (Mt 5). Jesus takes the law of consequence of the Old Testament and replaces it with the law of love. The law of love is the new expectation for would-be followers of Jesus.
In the Luke chapter 6 version of this teaching, Jesus includes an interesting promise. After instructing His disciples in the law of love, Jesus concludes with “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…Be merciful…Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Lk 6:35-38).
It appears from this verse that somehow our love and generosity in this life will bring us a blessing. I say “somehow” because our experience and the rest of the New Testament message make clear that there is not a one-to-one relationship between our giving and our financial blessing. In fact, we rightfully cringe at the prosperity teaching that runs wild with this verse in the form of “send us your money and you will experience a financial windfall.” Unfortunately that misuse often causes us to ignore the verse altogether. But I believe Jesus said it and I believe it means something to us, his disciples.
There are many aspects to this promised blessing for obedience. Sometimes it is a direct financial blessing. But with appropriate sensitivity and humility, generous believers who have experienced a financial windfall are unlikely to broadcast that fact. But we also know from our studies in Prosperity and Adversity that direct financial blessing is not always the path of blessing that God chooses. What are some other aspects of God’s blessing?
Sticking with the generosity angle, we also have the blessing of making eternal friends with our money. In the parable of the unrighteous steward, Jesus emphasizes this point, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Lk 16:9). I think this is a direct promise that we can use our wealth to bless folks in a way that they will welcome us into heaven with open arms. This will be a blessing for us.
I could go on about how our generosity and righteous living leads to the blessing of oneness in our community, the blessing of God’s peace that passes understanding, the blessing of joy in the face of adversity, and many other blessings that God has promised us. But I will finish with one of God’s greatest blessings; the ability to be generous, do good, love one another, and everything else He has asked us to do. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:3-4).
God has given us the ability to be “holy and blameless before Him” through the finished work of Christ on the cross. And when we live into this new identity, there is an overflowing blessing – pressed down, shaken together, and running over – for those who obey.