Turn to Luke 6:20. A little more interactive than normal - so your participation is appreciated.
“Christianity is not a set of teachings to understand. It is a person to follow.” ~ Henry Blackaby
When it’s only about the teachings, the principles, then it’s only a religion. Our goal is not to only know the teachings of Scripture, but to know the person behind them - and then emulate Him. We call that being a disciple.
What’s the definition of a disciple? One who learns from and studies another person, imitate, become like …. So, the disciple studies Scripture with the intent to do what? Learn, gain knowledge, mature in faith, live like Jesus, become all He designed me to be … (Our mission). The disciple is open to new ways of thinking and living. We call that transformation (Rom. 12:2). The disciple studies Scripture to know God and to be transformed by God.
Would you concur that there is a distinction between a person who knows about Jesus (i.e. His teachings) and a disciple of Jesus? I believe there is. So, by the definition of a disciple, answer this, “Am I a disciple of Christ?” Am I content with simply knowing His teachings, or do I want to follow?
We are all called and capable of being disciples, followers, imitators of Christ Jesus. As we continue in the Believe series, we come to topic of Kindness and Goodness. It’s one thing to know the principles of kindness and goodness and that Yahweh is kind and good - it is another thing to imitate His kindness and goodness.
We can convince ourselves that we are so kind and good, but there is a test to see if we are truly disciples, truly emulating Christ. We’ll get there.
Now, kindness and goodness are related terms, and for simplicity I’ll talk primarily about goodness, but keep in mind it covers both.
Key Idea: I choose to be kind and good in my relationships with others.
I think the word choose is accurate, because doing good, being kind is in fact a choice, especially as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at Luke 6 and see what Jesus has to say about doing good, and in here, we’ll find that test.
And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon,
So we can see that there are disciples and other people
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Jesus is setting the stage for His disciples, conveying to them, “Look, my disciples live differently than the crowd” I think what He’s doing is challenging them to think, evaluate and compare - how am I living compared with how Jesus wants me to live. How different is my life from everyone else?
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Jesus is describing the everyday attitude and character of a disciple.
Test number one: What is my attitude and response toward my enemies, those who hate me, those who speak ill of me and of those who abuse (mistreat) me?
Evaluate and compare. How am I doing with this? This is what a disciple does - read something like this - how am I doing. But here’s the kicker - the disciple will take it a step further - “Lord, how am I doing?”
So, let’s take a moment and ask. Gal. 2:20 …
A disciple will also ask questions - for instance, What does it mean to do good? A simple biblical definition - doing good is doing what is right, or beneficial, or best, or helpful for another person. It is easy to do what is right, beneficial, best and helpful to those whom in our opinion “deserve” it, or “earned” it … and we should do good to those people. However, Jesus says do good to whom? Those who don’t deserve it - to those who haven’t earned it ….
This is where the disciple lives differently. Got anyone in mind already? Am I treating these people as Jesus would have me? Am I doing good to them and for them - that which is right, beneficial for them, best for them and helpful?
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
In here we find another test - it’s the word Seek. Seek is written in the imperative, a command and it means to pursue, to rush forward - all with a goal or a purpose in mind. So there’s some intentionality involved here. That’s a lot wrapped up in that one word -
But here’s the test - Do I intentionally seek; do I pursue to do good to others? Do I seek, do I look for opportunities to do what is right, beneficial, best and helpful - especially to whom?
Disciples live differently.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
Jesus went to the cross; He suffered and died for the people who were yelling, “Crucify Him!” If Jesus can do good to them …?
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
So, we are to seek - so here’s the question - what am I seeking?
Is what I’m seeking centered on Christ or, who’s the other option? Me. If I’m seeking what is beneficial to me …
When I’m Me-centered, my concern is of the ROI - the Return On Investment (we’ve mentioned this before). Whether we do it consciously or not, we have a tendency to consider the ROI - “What’s in it for me? What’s the payoff? If I’m good to this … person … what good does it do me?”
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
What might Jesus be saying about the person who is concerned about the ROI? “As a disciple, it doesn’t mean much. That’s not the goal. It doesn’t make you any different than them. That’s not how I live …. I want you to live like me and here’s how you do it - and why.”
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
There’s a lot packed into this. Just a few things to ponder …
Last week we talked about patience. Patience is a character issue and a trust issue. Doing good is the same. If God is merciful and kind and good even to the ungrateful and evil, should I not be as well. My character should reflect His character.
Doing good is also a trust issue. How so? If I do good, if I give my time, energy, possessions etc. to someone without any strings attached, without receiving anything in return - can I trust God to see, to take care of, to replace what I give away? Can I trust God with the ROI?
This is called sacrificial living -
And that is the third test of a disciple - loving and doing good when there is absolutely nothing in it for me. Am I willing to let go of ___________ and trust it with God? But it’s more than this - it’s doing good knowing full well that person can never pay me back, but I’m doing good anyway.
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
There’s another ROI - Jesus said you will be Sons of the Most High. Whole discussion there about the Divine Council, which we’ve talked about - that’s another topic. But, think of this - I know not everyone has had a good father - but there are times when one of the greatest compliments we can receive is, “You’re just like your dad.”
Picture this - Jesus is watching, you love your enemy, you do good to someone who hates you … and He says, “You’re just like your dad; just like your Father in Heaven. You’re just like me.”
So what do we do? We can make it complicated - or keep it simple
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80x9FmKsyg4 - End at 1:50
Choose one person with a need - do good