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Luke 6:32-34 1
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.

Background

In the years just prior to the birth of Jesus (31 B.C. or thereabouts), Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centering on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey. It was a widely accepted idea that we see in the verses for this lesson.  Relationships were viewed as reciprocal. A person who behaved generously towards another person did so in the expectation that in the future, the generosity would be returned. Jesus notes that such relationships are so much a part of life in our world, that even sinners love, do good to, and lend to their friends. If Jesus’ followers relate to others based on nothing more than reciprocity, they simply reinforce the qualities of life in the old age that was, not the qualities in His new Kingdom to come.

Jesus starts  off by telling  us how to respond to people who are not fair and honest with us. He is instructing us to give good for good, but take no special credit for doing so. 

  •  “If you love those…”
  • “If you do good to those….”

Giving good for good is simply reciprocity, and reciprocity is not a “kingdom” behavior. Even people who do not follow Jesus give good for good. As Jesus’s disciples, we are to give good whether we have received good or bad. In the verse following our lesson, verse 35, Jesus also adds that we are not to be motivated by debts that we owe other people or that they owe us. We are to break the cycle of equal reciprocity by giving good—period!

In Luke 6:35, Jesus instructs His disciples to replace those old-age qualities of behavior with characteristics of His new “kingdom,” to imitate God who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. To be “kind” does not mean to approve but  to seek the best interest and outcome. God wants even the ungrateful and the wicked to repent and become a part eternity with Him.

Christians sometimes mistake the call to stop judging and condemning in Luke 6:37 to mean that the church should never make a moral judgment. That is not the case. Jesus is saying that the church should not act like it knows the final verdict on those who are or are not going to be part of God’s eternal plan. Human perception is always limited because our vision is finite. All Christians should remember that the  enemies of God have been given the opportunity to repent until the apocalypse. The Greek word “kind,” chrestos, is related to the word “grace,” charis. God’s grace is freely given to all and God’s kindness is infinite for all.

Items for Discussion

  • What is the hardest part of doing good for someone who hurt you?
  • What benefit to both ourselves and mankind is a patient, merciful and kind God?
  • This story might be renamed “Quid Pro Quo.” How has the old world concept corrupted our world today?
  • In the time of national crisis, where are the opportunities to do good without benefit?
  • Where do you see the lessons for children now in the events of the recent pandemic?
  • Many churches are existing as “virtual communities.” How should Christians keep their churches alive “virtually?”

Discussion Challenge

  • This, of course, is a lesson given during the times of the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic. The challenge will be how we, as a Christian family, restart our churches? With risks to older and health challenged families, how will congregations restart and minister to each other?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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