Give And It Will Be Given To You


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In Luke 6:38, Jesus made a wonderful promise: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” The above verse is one of the most abused verses in the whole of the Bible. The result is it is frequently given meanings contrary to what Jesus intended. We must read the whole passage in the context it comes from – Luke 6:27-38 to understand what the Lord was really saying. Note the following:


In Luke 6:27-30, Jesus teaches we should love our enemies and do good to those who hate, curse and spitefully use us. In these verses, He also instructs us to do good to those who hit us on the face and who steal some of our clothes from us. Luke 6:27-30 says: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask for them back.” In the above verses, Jesus did not command us to give to others with the primary motivation of receiving an even greater amount back in return.

In Luke 6:31, Christ taught we should treat others how we want them to treat us: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” I ask you, “How would you feel if your wife or husband, children or parents told you they are generous and kind to you primarily so they could receive much more back in return? Would you feel hurt? Would you regard their ‘love’ as superficial and based primarily on ulterior selfish motives?”.

In Luke 6:33, Jesus challenged those religious people who only did generous things for others who were generous to them: “And if you do good to those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Christ said we are no better than ordinary sinners if this is the type of generosity and giving principles by which we operate.

In Luke 6:34-36, Jesus teaches that if we give to others with the aim of receiving material blessings in return from them, we are not acting as sons of the Most High God but are copying the behaviour of sinners: “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

Christ emphasises here that God is a kind or generous Giver even to evil people and those who give Him no thanks at all in return. Christ says that we will be truly acting as sons of our Heavenly Father if we love our enemies, do good to them, lend to them while hoping for nothing in return and are merciful to them in their need. Verse 35 above promises God will reward us if we love our enemies and do good to them without hoping for anything in return from them.

In Luke 6:34-35, Jesus spoke of lending to our enemies in need, without wanting them to repay the loans. I have never once heard or read an advocate of the idea Luke 6:38 teaches that we should give primarily in order to receive blessings in return, say we need to do this also. If we are not lending like this to our needy enemies, we are phoneys if we expect the earthly blessings of Luke 6:38.

In Luke 6:34-35, Jesus amended one of the teachings of the Mosaic Law by bringing it into a New Covenant superlative grace setting. Under the Mosaic Covenant, God commanded the Israelites to not charge interest on loans to the poor or to fellow Israelites (see Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-38 and Deuteronomy 23:17-20). The Israelites were allowed to charge interest on loans to foreigners (see Deuteronomy 23:20). But under the New Covenant, Christ commanded we broaden our generosity about forsaking interest to include our enemies in need. This is real Holy Spirit-inspired love.

In Luke 6:37, Jesus instructs us to not pronounce eternal condemnation on others and to forgive others. Forgiving others involves giving forgiveness. This verse also shows we should not set ourselves up as the Final Judge of other people.

All of Christ's previous comments are the background of Luke 6:38. So when Jesus said, “Give and it will given to you: good measure pressed down, shaken together…” He was referring to loving our enemies and giving and/or lending them money or material goods in their need. Christ was also meaning we should give forgiveness to them for hating, cursing and using us. Also, He was saying we should not pronounce eternal condemnation on them and should be kind and merciful to them. This is the context of Luke 6:38.

Luke 6:27-38 does not specify that God promises to make all generous givers multi-millionaires like the Roman Emperors of the time.


What does Luke 6:38 mean?


Luke 6:38 teaches we will receive back if we give generously. But note it does not say precisely when we will receive in return. In Greek, the expressions “it will be given to you” and “will be put” are both in the future tense. The future tense here may refer to later today, tomorrow, next month, next year or many years from now. Only God knows when.

In Greek, the expression “will be put” is a third person, plural, future tense form of the word “didomi”. Therefore, it really means “they will give”. This is why the King James Version translates it as “shall men give”. Alfred Marshall’s “The Interlinear NASB – NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English” translates the above form of “didomi” as “they will give”. This may mean God will give to generous believers who forgive and love their enemies and so on, indirectly through other humans.

The usage of the expression “into your bosom” in Luke 6:38 seems to confirm this verse is referring to receiving unmerited earthly blessings from God. This is because “bosom” in Greek is “kolpos” which means “the bosom of a garment, the hollow formed by the upper forepart of a loose garment, bound by a girdle and used for carrying or keeping things”. [1] The bosom is the area related to carrying material blessings.

Many interpret Luke 6:38 to mean God gives money and material blessings to others in the exact measure they give money and material blessings to others. For example, if someone does not give anything to needy people, ministries or local churches, they claim God will not give this person anything. But such an interpretation is contrary to Luke 6:35 and Matthew 5:45 which show God gives good gifts to evil, unrighteous and unthankful people – many of whom obviously give no money or material blessings to needy people, ministries or local churches.

Luke 6:38 contains a wonderful God-given unmerited grace promise. But may we be delivered from usages of it which lead us into bondage, carnality and selfishness – the very things Jesus in Luke 6:27-37 is teaching us to avoid.


Based on undeserved grace and not totally deserved rewards


The immediate surrounding context of Luke 6:38 suggests this verse cannot relate to totally deserved rewards. For example, the previous related verse 37 says in part: “…forgive and you will be forgiven.” There is a very close relationship between Luke 6:37 and 38. Throughout the whole Bible, forgiveness of sin is by God’s totally undeserved grace and mercy, and is never a deserved reward in even the slightest way.

The expression “for it will be put into your bosom for with the same measure that you use, it will measured back to you” in Luke 6:38 partly relates to Jesus’ prior words, “forgive, and you will be forgiven” in Luke 6:37. If we forgive others, God does not forgive us as a deserved reward in any way. God sets our forgiving others as the condition on which He will forgive us by His totally undeserved grace. Fulfilling the God-determined condition does not result in a deserved reward. Instead, fulfilling the condition results in a promised manifestation of God’s unmerited grace.

In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus commanded us to be merciful, kind and loving like He is. Luke 6:35 says God is kind to evil people and Luke 6:36 says He is merciful. In Luke 6:38, God promises to show His unmerited grace and mercy to believers who show love, grace and mercy to others.

Despite the sole mention of believers being rewarded in verse 35, the whole context of Luke 6:27-37 refers to undeserved grace and mercy being manifested here on Earth.


Slightly deserved rewards undergirded by God’s grace


Luke 6:35 refers to God rewarding believers. In this verse in Greek, Christ uses the word “misthos” meaning “pay, wages, reward” [2] or “a recompense based upon what a person has earned and thus deserves”. [3] Luke 6:35 refers to slightly deserved rewards undergirded by God’s grace. This verse relates to God rewarding believers on the basis of their treatment of those who hate, curse, hit and/or spitefully use them. These slightly deserved rewards underpinned by God’s grace will be given to believers:


a)             on Earth and/or

b)             in Heaven. Note earlier in Luke 6:23 in the same sermon, Jesus refers to believers receiving rewards in Heaven.


These rewards are those given by God the Father as part of His training and discipline of His children but are not the totally deserved rewards that someone who perfectly obeyed God every moment of every day would be owed by God’s perfect justice.


[1] Vine, page 75.

[2] Bauer, page 523.

[3] Louw and Nida, page 491.

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