Commands of Christ: 34

Give and it will be given to you, abundantly.

Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”  Luke 6:38

Clearly, this often doesn’t happen until our eternal reward.  That actually makes it just that much greater of a promise.  This is one of those commands that has a large “carrot” attached.  Who wouldn’t want to be treated with grace and mercy and generosity?  The fact that when we give temporal gifts or benefits we can reap eternal rewards, demonstrates God’s character in a marvelous way and gives us a model for how we should treat others.

 

Commands of Christ: 33

Listen! (usually in reference to one of His teachings or parables.)

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 11:15 (about John the Baptist)

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:9 (about the parable of the sower)

“Hear then the parable of the sower.”  Matthew 13:18 (about the parable of the sower)

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:43b (about the parable of the weeds)

He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.”  Matthew 15:10 (about teaching on purity)

“Hear another parable.”  Matthew 21:33 (about the parable of the tenants)

“Hear this!”  Mark 4:3 (about the parable of the sower)

He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”  Mark 4:9 (about the parable of the sower)

“Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”  Mark 4:23 (about the parable of the lamp)

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.”  Mark 7:14 (about teaching on purity)

“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Luke 8:8b (about the parable of the sower)

“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”  Luke 14:35b (about the cost of discipleship)

If you are a parent or if you have a parent, you are familiar with the pattern of a parent making sure they have the attention of the child before saying something especially important or urgent.  It also helps if the parent makes sure they have eye contact with the child when they do so.  This is the function of Jesus’ habit of asking his listeners to pay particular attention as he does in the passages above.  For example, the fact that the parable of the sower occurs in all four gospels and in all four the author notes that Jesus called special attention to the parable leads me to think it is especially critical to hear and understand it.  Evidently, it is quite important for us to be committed to being good soil and to look for good soil.  I would suggest looking carefully at the passages referenced above and then ordering your life accordingly.

Commands of Christ: 32

Forgive and you will be forgiven.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus knew a thing or two about motivation.  I believe He was pretty serious about us paying attention to this command.  I am likely to pay attention if a command is directly linked to how I will be treated, especially if it involves my eternal destiny.  This is pretty clear.  Jesus was not saying we earn our salvation by forgiving others.  He was saying that our attitude toward others is an evidence of the attitude that is required to receive forgiveness: humility.  If we truly recognize our unworthiness before Him then when we receive His mercy and grace, we will be grateful.  We will also recognize that others deserve mercy and grace just as much as we did, and seek to see that they get it.

Commands of Christ: 31

Be merciful and perfect as your heavenly Father is merciful and perfect.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I am not particularly fond of any passage that talks about how I am to do or be anything at the same standard that God does or is.  Those commands make it quite clear that they are impossible to obey.  That is the point.  In our own ability, these commands are impossible to follow.  These can only be obeyed as we are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.  They can only be followed if Jesus resurrected life is being demonstrated in our (spiritually) crucified bodies.  We must not be satisfied with being better than we were yesterday.  Anything short of God’s perfect standard needs to result in a holy dissatisfaction.  We are to be merciful to the same extent God is.  We need to be perfect as God is.

Commands of Christ: 30

Ask, seek and knock in prayer.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”  Matthew 7:7-11

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:9-13

This is a clear directive to pray persistently, including praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Parents enjoy interacting with their children.  Parents like it when their provision for their children is not taken for granted, but rather appreciated and acknowledged.  God feels the same way.  He wants us to continually seek Him.

Commands of Christ: 29

Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls to swine.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  Matthew 7:6

This is reminiscent of several verses in the book of Proverbs, including the one about not arguing with a fool.  It is not good stewardship of our time, energy, or influence.  This leads to the converse principle of focusing our efforts on those who are faithful.  This is not only for the sake of the faithful but also for the sake of the unfaithful.  Scripture clearly teaches that those who are given much have more expected of them.  Hence, we are only increasing judgement on those who are not faithful when we give them truth or guidance.

Commands of Christ: 28

Beware of false prophets.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.  By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  So by their fruits you will know them.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name?  Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’  Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers.’” Matthew 7:15-23

This is one reason Scripture tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are indeed “in the faith.”  Many people, not a few, are deluded in thinking they are members of God’s family.  We need to examine ourselves and others with whom we interact, especially those who teach or minister in the church.  We must not be deluded or led astray by such people.  The evidence will be in their lives (and in our lives).  They will be doing God’s will.  We are not doing them or ourselves any favors by ignoring the evidence.  If people are not in the Kingdom of God, they need to know it.

Commands of Christ: 27

Enter through the narrow gate.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.  And those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,  “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!’  And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.  And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:23-30

There are not many roads to salvation.  Only one.  Jesus.  There are not lots of ways to please Him.  He is pretty specific that only those who love Him will be loved by the Father.  All those who love Him will obey Him.  The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him.  I didn’t say those things, He did.  He wasn’t talking about earning salvation.  He was talking about the evidence that would be demonstrated by those whom were saved.  Our righteousness is only in Him and through the life of the Spirit whom He gave us.  We are still to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Resting in the Lord does not preclude laboring for His Kingdom.  It is hard work.  It is impossible work, but He does it for us, through us.

Commands of Christ: 26

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

This is actually one of the most quoted commands of Christ.  I often hear it applied as an issue of commission of negative actions rather than omission of positive actions.  In other words, I will hear a parent say, “Johnny, you shouldn’t hit people.  Would you like it if they hit you?”  It is perhaps even more challenging if we think of it in positive terms, such as “You should write a note of encouragement to Sue.  Wouldn’t you like it if someone wrote you a note of encouragement?”  Living a life that is pleasing to God is much more than simply avoiding doing bad things.  The life of service and love to which we have been called is one of constantly demonstrating love to those we encounter.  All of us like to be treated in that way.

Commands of Christ: 25

Deal with your own sin before judging another. Lk 6:42

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?  You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. Luke 6:41-42

This can be a challenge for me.  I have a habit, at least in my mind, of comparing my strong points with the weak points of others.  I want to value and prioritize my strengths and ignore my weaknesses, while doing exactly the converse with others.  It might prove to be motivating to bear in mind that the Lord will judge us in the same way we judge others.  I need to show grace to others both for their sake and for my own.