Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Give that which is within

Luke 11:37-42 "Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal.

But the Lord said to him, 'Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. '" (NASB).

I included verses 37-42 solely to give this meditation some context. The emphasis is on Christ imploring the Pharisees to "give that which is within as charity" (v41). Christ rebukes their giving of physical means as an incomplete act of giving, "these things you should have done without neglecting the others". So what is "the stuff within" that Christ wants them to give?

The substance Christ desires to be given is "justice and the love of God" (v42). These are people that he just said were filled with "robbery and wickedness" inside of them, yet Christ calls for them to give the "love of God" and "justice". He was actually calling for their obedience to the Law, with which they were so familiar. Luke 10:25-27 Jesus explained that eternity in inherited by loving the Lord and loving others as Deut 6:5 states. So if they were to walk in obedience to the Law, the Pharisees would be filled with the love of God. Justice is certainly also found in the Law as well. Despite their being filled with robbery and wickedness, Christ commands them to love God. I suggest the only way that it is possible for anyone to be transformed from being filled with robbery and wickedness is through prayer. A genuine prayer request (that is not loud wailing in public but reverent prayer in privacy) for the love of God and of repentance (another message they would have been acquainted with thanks to John the Baptist) is all that is required in order for a change of heart for these Pharisees. So that's how I suggest we fill ourselves with the love of God and His justice, through prayer and petition.

Now Christ doesn't just say to give those things, but to give them "as charity". When you give to charity, you know that there is no fiscal return on the gift (otherwise it would be an investment). Giving to charity is giving without expectation of reciprocity. This is the kind of giving that the Lord demonstrates. He freely gives His love to all people. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life". God didn't just love those that receive Him, but the world. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". God's sacrificial love is given "as charity", without expectation of it being returned. He does not love us and force us to love Him back. That is the kind of love we are called to have.

While it is easy to type out on a blog post to "love others without expectation of it coming back", walking out this love is really what matters. So, the question I pose to you is this: are you loving anyone right now... that doesn't love you back? When you look at the destitute, the rejected, the lost, the haughty, the proud... are you loving them? Lord I pray that you would enable us to love others as You love them, to give the love of God to people that aren't easy to love.

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