“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I once heard a story about a simple farmer who was richly blessed by God. The farmer was known as one of the biggest givers in his church and his community. He constantly blessed those around him and was a wonderful example of generosity. Though he gave much, his wealth and success continued to expand. It seemed the more he gave away, the more God gave back to him.
The farmer’s pastor was honestly amazed at his high level of generosity, and asked him, “How is it that you keep giving so much away, yet your wealth and success continue to expand?” The farmer simply replied, “Preacher, I don’t understand at all. All I know is that I am shoveling out blessings as fast as I know how, and God is shoveling back blessings to me. All I can figure is that God has a bigger shovel than I do!”
I love that story.
I love it because it is very true of our God: He desires to bless us so that we can bless others. As God shovels blessings our way, it is our job to shovel those blessings out to the people God puts around us. And by the same measure we shovel out blessings, God will shovel back blessings into our lives. However, not all these blessings are financial. Some come in the form of good will built up with others who come to our aid when we are in need. I hope we never underestimate God’s willingness and desire to bless us here and now!
Once, I had a conversation with a pastoral couple from a charismatic church. They mentioned something about God expanding my influence, my church, and my personal resources. I quickly replied, “Oh, that will never happen. I give away too much to ever have very much.” They immediately replied, “Mike, that’s exactly why God is going to expand you. He is looking for people he can trust to spread the blessings around.” They had me on that point.
Their point, in fact, is the very point Jesus made in this verse from the gospel of Luke: “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (6:28). God is looking to bless those He can trust to spread the blessing around. There’s a great blessing in being a blessing! But how will you live that out? Can you be someone God can trust to bless others? It would be worth a try!
“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 25:28-29
These two verses, given to us by Jesus, come from a parable about three servants who are each given bags of gold to handle for their master while he is away. One is given 5 bags, another is given 2 bags, and yet another is given 1 bag. The ones given 5 bags and 2 bags invested what they were given, and ultimately doubled their master’s gold. But the one given just 1 bag hid his gold and gave it back to the master with exactly what he was entrusted with. The master takes this bag of gold and gives it to the one who already has 10 as a reward for doubling his master’s money. Then Jesus says, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
Now, I understand this seems really unfair. But, if we recognize the parable is about more than money, and rather about the lost souls of men and women who need to hear the gospel of Christ, then we can make sense of the master’s response. There is a mission to accomplish, and every day that we fail to make progress for Christ, people slip into eternity without knowing God. There is no time to waste maintaining what we have been given.
The master is not lacking in fairness, rather he is concerned with effectiveness. If resources and time are limited, then it only makes sense to place those limited resources with those who are most effective at accomplishing the mission. When our mission is the salvation of the world, effectiveness matters on an eternal level!
Our choice to be generous, when the Kingdom of God is at stake, matters on an eternal level. It should not surprise us that God would bless those who fund the work of His Kingdom with additional wealth. It’s should not shock us that God is an effective, brilliant distributor of resources. God places resources in the hands of those who distribute them as He desires. This should not lessen our devotion to Him, instead, it should motivate us. If our God truly owns all, and He does, then we should strive to show Him that we can be trusted with His work and His resources.
In the same parable, the master responds to his productive servants by saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21). We should work hard and give generously in order to hear those words from our Master and Savior
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
Choosing the measure that will be measured to you is not limited to financial gain. It’s a lifestyle that understands and applies these words of Jesus, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Every day, as we make choices, which have consequences, we should ask the simple question, “How would I like someone to treat me in a similar circumstance?”
I don’t mean to use this as a moral bat to beat you with or as a guilt trip that denies you the right to personal justice. Truthfully, I would expect punishment if I was guilty in a given circumstance. I might even welcome the punishment to relieve my guilt. Because I would expect punishment, I should have no guilt about dispensing justice. But there are other times when I desire grace. Because I would desire grace, I should dispense grace.
So, as we choose our measuring cup, we should choose a very generous cup of grace. In God’s Word, we learn that the unforgiving will not be forgiven. So as Jesus gives grace and forgiveness to us, we should extend it others. As you choose your measuring cup of forgiveness today, choose carefully and gracefully!
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” John 8:10-11
In John 8:2-11, we read of Jesus’ encounter with a woman caught in adultery. This woman was brought before the officials to be tried for having sex with a married man. (There is no indication that the man was brought before any officials for punishment. Though this is wrong by any standards, especially by our modern standards, we have little understanding of the culture at the time.)
Adultery was against Jewish law and was punishable by death by stoning. There was no reason for anyone to come to her defense, as she was clearly guilty and her punishment was clear. Yet Jesus is different. Jesus changes everything! There was no political, theological, or social reason for Jesus to come to the defense of this sinful woman… And yet He did.
Just like our measuring cups of forgiveness and grace, we also choose our own measuring cup of kindness. The more we show kindness, the more we will be shown kindness. We should choose kindness when dealing with the people around us even though they may not deserve it and deserve our throwing of stones. But if we show kindness, even when we don’t have to, it will change lives in the long run.
“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. And yet, these words from the Gospel of Luke are spoken by Jesus about John the Baptist, “There is no one greater than John” (7:28). Those are high words of honor to receive from anyone, but these words came from Jesus! That is high praise!
Before Jesus spoke these words about John, He responded to John’s disciples, who came on behalf of John wanting to know if Jesus was actually the Messiah. He told them, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleaned, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Luke 7:22). Jesus, who healed the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf and the dead, called John the greatest person ever born of women! John’s resume was impressive, but not compared to Jesus! Yet Jesus chose to show honor to John, even when He could have demanded honor for himself.
Just like we chose our kindness measuring cup yesterday, we can choose our own measuring cup for honor. Even when we don’t have to, we should show honor, especially to those who have toiled forging a path for us. That is what John the Baptist did for Jesus, he prepared the way for the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. And now, Jesus, recognizing his work, honors all that John has done. We should follow the example of our Messiah and scoop out honor with as big a measuring cup as possible, as we will be shown honor in return.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Life is a series of choices. Quite simply, the sum of our lives is the sum of our choices, and our choices create a pile of consequences. Every choice has a consequence, and every consequence affects the trajectory of our lives. In the end, we live in the effect of the consequences we have piled up. For this reason, it is important that we add to the right pile so that we can live in blessings and not curses.
With each poor choice we make, we add to our pile of negative consequences, known as curses. The consequences of our poor choices are never confined to their immediate impact on us, as they negatively impact others. If we continually make poor choices, we find people want little do with us, as we bring negative consequences to their lives as well. In the end, we live cursed by our poor choices.
With each good choice we make, we add to our pile of positive consequences, known as blessings, affecting more than just us. These blessings affect those around us as well. They pile up, leaving us with great treasures. Not all of them are personal or financial; some treasures come in the form of good will. With each positive consequence, we add to our good will with those around us. In tough times, those who have been blessed by our good choices come to our rescue, willingly helping us get back on our feet.
With Christ, you are not simply stuck with the pile of consequences you currently have. Even if you have spent years building an impressive pile of negative consequences, you can change your course. You can start a new pile. Keep building up your positive consequences, and as a result, you can live a truly blessed life!
In our passage this week, Jesus warns that we should, “store up for [ourselves] treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). He gives us clear guidance on how to make choices in our lives. Yesterday we learned our choices come with consequences, some positive (blessings), some negative (curses). Since our choices make the difference between living a blessed life and a cursed life, we should make choices carefully.
Truthfully, most people don’t think clearly about the choices they make. Many people just float through life making snap decisions without a great deal of thought, yet this does more harm than good. Our choices should be made with forward-thinking consideration. Let me suggest two points of perspective that might help:
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus calls us to follow the Word of God in our daily lives. To know God’s word may seem like an intimidating call, but let me suggest that knowing God’s word is the only way to ensure you are effectively following God’s way. As you study His word, trust the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts. Make choices based on what you learn. Go to God in prayer when you aren’t sure what is right. The Apostle James says it this way: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Finally, as you make decisions, consider the ultimate end game. Heaven in our final home. We are just passing through here on earth. Take your time to consider the eternal impact of your choices not only on your life, but on the lives of those around you. In what direction are you influencing those around you? Are you nudging them closer to an eternity with God in Heaven, or farther away from God towards eternal judgment? Ultimately, our treasure is in Heaven. We should keep an eternal perspective every time we make a decision here in our temporary home.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
I find it interesting how Jesus identifies that our hearts will follow our treasure, not the other way around. Our hearts are painfully fickle sometimes, and they end up chasing the same things over and over again. Your heart will always yearn for whatever it is you treasure, whether your treasure can be measured in wealth or in other, equally damaging, earthly things. Those who treasure wealth will chase after money; those who treasure power will chase after influence and fame.
Jesus’ point in this statement is quite simple: He desires that we treasure Him and our relationship with Him above all else, above wealth, above power. If we can see our relationship with Jesus as our greatest treasure, our hearts will naturally and consistently chase after Him. The problem is we naturally treasure worldly things. We tend to build up that attraction at a very young age. These attractions take root in our lives and become difficult to remove or change. We must be careful what we treasure! Once we have chosen something to treasure, our hearts will follow.
Simply put, your treasure does not follow you heart. No. Your heart follows your treasure. Choose your treasure carefully. Your influence and your eternity may well depend on it!
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23
In these words, Jesus calls us to keep our eyes on what is righteous and true, to keep our eyes on His light. If you think about it, we don’t voluntarily walk around in the dark in our physical world. We can agree that light is an important part of navigating our way around any building, room, field, or set of woods. We are rarely glad to walk around in the dark, especially in an unfamiliar place. Yet, that is how we sometimes live our spiritual lives. We willingly avoid God’s Word and the voice of the Holy Spirit, marching on in the dark with such confidence, assuming we know where we’re going.
But how could we know?
The Apostle John, like Jesus, recognizes God as the light of the world in his letter to the Church. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).
If we are to walk with true direction and understanding of our journey, we must walk in the light of God, which is found in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and in the knowledge of the Word of God that has been given to us. Whether we are facing moral, business, family or money matters, we must walk in the light of the Holy Spirit and in the light of God’s word.
If we walk around without God as our light, we walk around in darkness, and if we “walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” In darkness, we lie to ourselves about the world around us. We think we have it all figured out, and while some might actually believe us, we are just stumbling in the dark. God, in His grace and love for us, allows us to walk in His light to find fellowship, forgiveness and purity. God has offered us the gift of His light. It’s time we gratefully take Him up on the offer!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
Okay, let’s just keep it real. The world and all its toys and temptations can look pretty good sometimes. When we are left once again to make a choice, sometimes even really good people made the wrong decision. The Bible tells us King David was a good man who truly desired to follow the heart of God. “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22).
Even so, when King David was tempted at seeing Bathsheba bathing, he made a poor choice. This king, who was dedicated to following the heart of God, sent for another man’s wife, committed adultery with her and then killed her husband to cover it up. King David was tempted by the world and made the wrong choice.
God confronted King David through the prophet Nathan, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more’” (2 Samuel 12:7-8). Did you hear that? If all that God had given King David had been too little, God would have given him even more!
David’s problem was not God’s lack of desire to bless him. David’s problem was that, as a Godly king, he saw something that belonged to someone else and was tempted to take it. In that moment of temptation, he chose to ignore God to get what he wanted. His punishment came because of his rebellion. God’s desire to bless David did not change. Instead, it was replaced by a requirement for justice.
God desires to bless us to the very limit of our ability to handle the blessings He sends. But, He requires that we surrender to Him and follow His Word and His Spirit. When we defy God, who desires to bless us, we disqualify ourselves from His blessing and open ourselves up to His justice. This is why walking the light is so important. When we choose God, we choose blessing. When we choose to defy God, we choose curses.
The choice is yours.
“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.”
There is a vast difference in the way people think. Some of us expect the worst while others expect the best. Neither of these extreme perspectives is healthy. Most of us would agree that living a life out of depressing pessimism is a bad idea. We might also agree that constant depressing pessimism ultimately leads to a negative perspective on life.
However, we often miss the weakness of irrational optimism. Those of us who always expect the best are guilty of irrational optimism. We walk around dancing in sunlight while it’s raining cats and dogs! This is unhealthy. In fact, this is not sane. The truth is that sometimes the best possible outcome takes place in our lives, and other times the worst possible outcome comes to pass.
So, what should we do?
Let me suggest we change our math.
When we are following God and doing everything possible to live out His call in our lives, we can live blessed lives even when life isn’t easy. The apostle Paul reminds us of God’s work in our lives, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Think about it. This verse does not say, “all things are good for those who love Him.” Instead, it says that, “in all things God works for the good…” That means even when bad things, even devastating things, happen in our lives, God is working to make them good somehow. He will bring blessing from pain.
If that is true, we can walk in the faith of knowing that our lives will always be blessed. If that is true, even in the rain we can celebrate without ignoring the rain in some defiant act of irrational optimism, but know that even in the rain God is working out something good!
So today, don’t live in depressed pessimism or irrational optimism… Live in faith!
How many times have you had this experience? You go to a fast food restaurant with your family and order their meals with fries. You get to the table and hand out the meals to your kids. You reach for ONE fry from your kid’s plate only to watch him move the fries away from you. He hunkers down over them to protect the fries from your evil grasp! In this moment, if you aren’t careful, you might think you raised greedy, ungrateful children. But in reality, this is not a greed problem; it’s a perspective problem.
My child’s first perspective problem is thinking he owns the fries. The fries currently being protected by my child were bought by me, carried to the table by me, and handed to my child by me. In case you are missing the point… those are MY fries! I chose to give them to this kid! My fries… My Choice… My generosity. And yet, this kid thinks the fries are his! He has lost sight of the giver. He only sees me as a taker.
We do that with God. God gives us every good gift, ability, opportunity, job, paycheck, family member, car, house…. You name it, God gave it! And in return, we forget He is the Giver. When He asks us to give back a portion of what He gave to us, we act like a kid hunkering over fries. We forget who the Giver is and mistake Him for a taker.
My kid’s second perspective problem is thinking the fries I gave him are the only fries available. My son, hunkered over his fries, did not realize there were more fries in the kitchen. He also failed to realize that I had enough money in my pocket to buy him more. In fact, I could have purchased enough fries to fill a ball pit and throw him in it! He thought there was a scarcity of fries, when in reality, there were plenty. Where I had plenty, he could only see scarcity and that made him greedy.
The final perspective problem is my son’s failure to trust the heart of his father. I am human and flawed. Even so, I desire to bring joy to my children. Even now, as they are adults, it brings me joy to bless them. How much more do you suppose our Heavenly Father, who is flawless, desires to bless us?
He is the Ultimate Giver. He never runs short on anything. He loves to bless His children!
If all of this is true, and it is, then we should open our eyes to understand that what looks like scarcity to us is only a shadow of the plenty our Father, the great Giver desires to bring into our lives.
So, order fries… And share… There’s plenty to go around!
In our key verse this week, God challenges His people. “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Malachi 3:10).
This is not the only time we see this promise of overflowing life. Jesus makes this promise in the Gospel of Luke, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (6:38).
Jesus also promises in the Gospel of John, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). In these promises we see how we can live full and abundant lives through the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In setting all free from the power of sin and death, Jesus taught His followers, and therefore us, how abundantly He wants us to live. He wants us to find blessings “pressed down, shaken together.” Jesus’ desires kept with the will of God the Father in the Old Testament when God promised to “pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” It is clear that God desires to give us an overflowing life.
This overflowing life does not come without responsibility. We read in Malachi we are required to “bring the whole tithe,” in Luke we are required to “give,” and in John we are required to resist the thief who “comes to steal and kill and destroy.” The lesson is clear: the closer we stay to the Holy Spirit, the more we discover the blessings of living life “to the full.”
After promising to “pour out so much blessing” in Malachi 3:10, God makes an even greater promise to His people. “‘I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Malachi 3:11). This is a promise of protection from God.
Again, it is not the only occurrence of such a promise in Scripture. In 2 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, promises the Thessalonians, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (3:3). When you feel threatened and weak in the face of temptation and fear, remember that not even the evil strategies of the enemy are successful since God has promised to protect you!
In 2 Corinthians, Paul, again inspired by the Holy Spirit, reminds us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:8-9). Even the hardest and darkest times cannot leave us hopeless!
I have always loved the honesty of the Bible. We will face hard times, but we will not be crushed! We will be perplexed and confused but we will not despair! We will be struck down but we will not be destroyed!
When you feel that your back is against the wall and you may be down for the count, remember that God is on your side! He will protect you even in the darkest, most difficult moments. God does not promise that life will never get tough. His promise is better than that. It’s more real than that. Life will get tough, but in those moments, we can remember that our God protects us, saves us, and desires to bless us. Our God is good all the time!
God’s final promise in Malachi is a promise of amazing hope. “‘Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,’ says the LORD Almighty” (3:12). When we surrender our ways to God, God will lift us up in the eyes of all those around us. This promise is more than just personal blessing or personal protection. It reaches beyond that.
Just like everyone else, I desire to be blessed and protected by my God. I highly value that blessing and protection. However, God’s promise goes beyond that. In addition to blessing and protection, He promises to make out of me a “delightful land.” Simply put, when those around me look into my life, they will see something they wish they had: a life that is blessed, protected, wise, balanced, and worthwhile.
Our world today is in desperate need of positive role models. Families, marriages and friendships are falling apart. Worldly people around us struggle to maintain integrity, as they listen to the lying voice of the god of this culture. Satan tells each one, “You are the most important person in the world,” yet he leaves them alone, damaged and discouraged.
Still, they long to live truly blessed and secure lives. When they see such a life in us, they are intrigued. Even when we don’t notice, people look into our lives, our choices, our
priorities and find that God is in the center. Others look to us because they see us as “blessed.” And sometimes, without any warning, we find ourselves as role models, not because we are smart or secure or blessed on our own, but because God in His providence has made us a blessed people.
When the people around us notice God’s blessing on us, they can’t help but call it like they see it. When we have the blessing and protection of God, those around us have a role model, and in the process, the God of Heaven is honored and praised!
The goal of most everyone is to leave a legacy and make a difference in the world. The problem of legacy is not a lack of motive, rather the problem is accomplishing something that will make a long term difference. Unfortunately, it is much easier to float through life without thinking of the end result we are heading toward.
In this series of readings, we focus on making changes to our lives and making choices that help us leave a legacy. The real secret to leaving a legacy is living a legacy. We must change the way we live in order to change what we leave behind.
As we work together through this book, it is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead each of us to significant and powerful life change. As we change, I pray that we each find fulfillment and clear Spirit-led direction for our lives. Finally, it is my prayer that God would use each of us to live and leave a legacy of God-inspired, Spirit-led blessing that will touch the lives of those around us!