Let’s take a look at this often overlooked set of instructions our Lord gave to His followers.
Luk 14:12-14 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
Before we begin let’s take a moment and examine our hearts to be sure we are approaching this subject with a heart inclined towards seeking His will for each of our lives…
Then said he also to him that bade him,
To whom was Christ talking? He was talking to one of the chief Pharisees that had invited Christ to his house to eat with him on the Sabbath day (14:1).
Before we progress we need to remember that the Pharisees were known for their outward displays of religious piety while, in many cases, their hearts were driven by sinful, selfish motives and desires (Luke 11:37-44). Our text is Jesus’ teachings to help correct this type of sinful motives behind outward acts of service for Him.
When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours;
The Lord now addresses the natural tendencies of our sinful flesh. When we make a supper for others to share with us, the natural thing for us to do would be to invite those we enjoy being with (friends), those we have physical or spiritual relationships with (brethren or kinsman), or those we desire to impress, to obligate or to gain their loyalty (rich neighbors).
We might ask what is wrong with doing this? As the Lord continues he explains this issue….
lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
What is in common with all of the above situations? In the example that Christ is using He said that the reason for these invitation to be given was in the hope of receiving some type of recompense for the good deed. In other words, selfishness was a part of the motivation to invite the perspective attendees to the dinner.
In the case presented to us by Christ…. He left out the specific details of the type of gain received by each invitation that we send. It could be hope for monetary gain, physical pleasure, increased authority, a peaceful relationship between two individuals, the list is endless.
But His teaching is plain. When we invite anyone who can give back to us for what we are doing for them we open ourselves up to the possibility of performing outward deeds of charity with sinful selfish motives. This is why EVERY Christian must be watchful concerning our motives in acts of benevolence.
Also, please do not misunderstand Christ’s teachings. This is NOTHING WRONG with inviting any of the above groups to dinner, as long as it is done out of love and a desire to sacrifice oneself for their well-being. It becomes sinful when we invite them with selfish motives hoping for personal gain.
Christ then gives us one easy way to “check” the true motives of our hearts….
(13) But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
In Christ’s example, are we willing to prepare a dinner and share it with those we do not know, but have drastic needs….
The “poor” those in poverty that do not have food to eat; the “maimed”, the “lame” and the “blind” those who, in most cases, cannot work to support themselves. In each case, we can see a need and no visible possibility of pay back.
Christ’s point is this … when we help these type of needy people there is a greater possibility that we are serving the dinner out of love and self-sacrifice than the previous group of invitees. We are giving of our time and food to help those who are in need of the food. Also, it is these very people who cannot be expected to return our benevolence in any way. It is an act of love and kindness on our part toward meeting the needs of those who are in such desperate straits.
But once again, we must be careful not to misunderstand His teachings. If we invite someone who is unable to recompense us for our efforts does that prove absolutely our motives are right? Absolutely not… there are many other ways we can gain from helping those who cannot repay us. In today’s time, we quickly declare our volunteer work to others desiring a pat on the back, a promotion at work, or perhaps to obtain a job that we have applied for. There can be much selfish gain when we help others in the world in which we live.
Also, we can do any type of charitable work desiring the “praise of men”. The Pharisees were masters of that…. John 12:42-43 (KJV) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (see also Matt 6:1-18)
I guess my point is this. The actual principle behind the teaching of Christ is that we are to serve Him and others out of a heart of love and desire to give of ourselves for others. Period. It really doesn’t matter who we help or what type of help we give. It is all about our motives.
Matt 22:36-40 (KJV) - Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Christ continues now by explaining the benefits to us when we serve Him from a right heart..
(14) And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
Do you notice that the Lord tells us that we will be “blessed” for our self-sacrificial giving to others?
This involves eternal blessings throughout eternity. He says that the repayment for what we have done for Him will take place at the resurrection of the just when we receive glorified bodies and stand before the Lord in judgment. (2 Cor 5:9-11)
We might think that knowing that we will receive eternal rewards is a selfish motive? Not if we properly understand the purpose of the rewards in heaven. It is not to exalt us or to give us a reason to be prideful in heaven…. Not at all.
Our eternal rewards (crowns) will be given to us so we can then lay them at Jesus feet and glorify and honor Him with them! The rewards are simply a reminder to us of His gracious intervention in our lives when He saved us, equipped us for service, led us to each area of service and then empowered us through His Spirit. This is why we give the rewards back to Christ… he deserves them because any good work we do is only Him working in us!
Rev 4:10-11 (KJV)
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
We can no more take credit for our good works of service than a pen can take the credit for creating a poem.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
Obedience to our Lord does not simply involve outward acts of service, but it also involves the proper motives and desires of the heart. As we prepare for a day of service to our Lord, we need to be sure we have our sinful, fleshly selfish desires “in check” as we go forth. Are we willing to lay aside personal gain in an effort to serve Him? Can we honestly say we desire to put our Lord first, our neighbors seconds and ourselves last, as we seek to fulfill His will and His will alone?
After all, One Man who placed His desires into submission to His Father’s will changed each of our lives for an eternity….
Mark 14:32-39 (KJV)
And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly [is] ready, but the flesh [is] weak. And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.