Last night I was reading in Luke, and I actually had to stop, re-read the section and then re-think everything I had ever heard and thought about the passage in question.
The passage is in Luke:6:38
give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
I have heard this passage preached on in reference to financial stewardship and the generosity with which we bring our offerings to the Lord. But this verse is part of a larger discourse…
Luke 6: 37-38 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
I had never noticed that before. This is about the relationships we have with people, the ways in which we treat them and especially the ways in which we forgive them and share God’s grace. The measure with which we give out love, kindness, grace, joy, forgiveness is the measure with which we will get it back and THEN SOME.
But the opposite is also true. The measure by which we withhold love, kindness, grace, joy, and forgiveness is the measure by which we get it back AND THEN SOME.
As I reflected on this I recalled a story that I learned years ago and have often used in preaching.
A traveler hurried up to the gate of a city and asked the gatekeeper what kind of people he would find in the city. The gatekeeper asked him, “how did you find the people in the last city you visited?” “They were rude, impatient and surly” replied the traveler. “You will find them to be the same in this city.”
Another traveler came up to the gates of the city and asked the gatekeeper what manner of people lived in the city. “What kind of people lived in the last city you were in?” asked the gatekeeper in return. “They were kind, generous, helpful and loving,” replied the traveler. “You will find them to be the same here,” replied the gatekeeper
Clearly, the way that we treat people is the way that people will treat us in return. That’s not a 100% truth of course, because all of us have known rude and surly people. We have all encountered angry and hostile people. I encountered just such a person at the post office a while ago. What struck me was that his attitude stuck with me, upset me, caused me to move around in a black cloud and after a while I had to give myself a serious talking to. I needed an attitude adjustment. I could allow his attitude to ruin my day and the other encounters that I was having with people, or I could decide to treat people the way that I normally treat people. Attitude is everything and when it comes to the attitude that we have in relationships; it is true that what we reap is truly what we sow….in ourselves and in others.
In my life, I want to reap what I sow. I do not want to reap the hostility and anger that others might drop in my garden. I want to reap the gifts of joy, love, grace, peace, kindness and generosity that flow from God’s heart and hopefully through mine. I want to be that person who makes peoples’ days better.
There is a sign at the receptionist’s desk at my doctor’s office. It says:
Everyone who comes here brings joy. Some by entering, others by leaving.
I pray that I will be a person who brings joy by entering the lives of others. I pray that God will continue to work in me so that being a bringer of joy becomes more and more true of me and that the days I am a bringer of dark clouds grow fewer and fewer. And I pray the same thing for you, so that your joy may be pressed down, shaken together, running over.