Radical Love

Today’s reading is Luke 6:24-38

How do the woes in this section make you feel?

Woe to the rich, full, those who laugh and those who all people speak well of.

It may as well say “woe to you Australians”!

But let’s have a look at another character who was rich, full and laughed:

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table.
Luke 16:19-21

The punch line comes in verse 25. The nameless rich man who could easily be an Aussie has died and gone to hell. Lazarus has gone to heaven and is standing with Abraham the man who was chosen to begin the nation of Israel. Abraham replies to the rich man’s cries for mercy:

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
Luke 16:25

Another well known parable really brings the point home. The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-20.  It concludes this way:

And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? ’

What is the common theme between these rich fools? Verse 21 lays it out for us:

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God

Are Jesus’ words a warning to Australians today? Certainly.
We should check our hearts and consider whether we are “rich towards God”.

Remember that you can’t take it with you, but you can send Godly riches ahead:

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven
Mat 6:20

Jesus then moves us on to even more radical thinking. We know we don’t want to live like a rich fool but why would we live like this:

“But to you who are listening I say:Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28

Keep reading. It gets even more radical!

Why would anyone live like this? Bless those who curse you? Give without expecting anything back? We could really be left in the lurch. Perhaps hurt and likely financially worse off.

Here is the answer:

Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:35-36

We are children of the Great King. A king with vast resources at our disposal. He has treasures that truly make the rich men of the parables look foolish.

If we really believe in the greatness of our Lord and King, then let us live our lives in a way that shows where our true riches lie.

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6 thoughts on “Radical Love

  1. We went on a harbour walk yesterday from Rushcutters Bay around to Seven Shilling Beach. The homes are absolutely amazing and certainly bring home the disparity in wealth that exists. At Christmas time I also think of the fact that for many people it can be a very sad time due to family history. Today’s reading comes as a great reminder/challenge/encouragement to me. Thanks Andrew!

  2. Thanks Andrew. You are right about our Australian way of life, although I think underneath many Australians are very sad as is evidenced by the high suicide rate in this country.

    But I always get stuck on verse 30:.

    Luke 6:30 says : Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

    How much should we give others if they ask? Was it OK for me to spend money enjoying that holiday in London when charities such as World Vision are asking for funds to save children’s lives? Is it OK for me to have spare rooms in my house when people are homeless and would love one of those rooms to sleep in but I like my privacy? And if someone robs my home aren’t I entitled to get the things back if I can, but verse 30 says not to demand them back.

    If we really take verse 30 seriously, what does it really mean? I have worked very hard for many years for the house I live in. Am I expected to give it to someone who asks for it? Is that what radical love really is – like those people who mortgaged their homes so our church could be built?
    We see that as exceptional but perhaps that sort of thing should be the rule for us.

    How much is God asking me to give others?

    Does any one else wonder about this or am I missing something obvious?

  3. Lindy,
    The question of what we should give is something I have wrestled with too.

    Some of the principles I have applied to my thinking are:
    – we are not to love the world (Jn 2:15-17) but we are to be witnesses to those we meet (1 Pete 3:25)
    – there are many examples of people blessed by God who are fabulously wealthy (Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon) so it is not wrong to have wealth
    – we are warned not to love our wealth e.g. the Rich young ruler (Matt 19:16-26), the rich man and Lazarus etc
    – we are clearly called to be generous to those in need, especially to those who can’t fend for themselves

    Considering these things, we should weigh up how we spend our money. But we should not feel bad about living at a reasonable standard of living within the society we find ourselves. If we take this verse to the extreme then we would be living in a mud hut with no possessions. Not only would that limit things like our employability and therefore our ability to be generous, but it would also limit our ability to act as ambassadors for Christ in our society.

    While there is no prescriptive answer given in the bible, if we remember that we should be living our life for God’s plan of salvation for all then we can be sure we are heading in the right direction.

    No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
    to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

    Micah 6:8

  4. This radical love has a name. AGAPE it is Gods unconditional love. A love that is a “gift” with no “strings attatched”. It is a love that keeps on giving. It’s supernatural and poured into us through Christ Jesus via the Holy Spirit. It’s a love that this world so desperately needs. The beauty of this supernatural love is that God goes before you in everything becsuse He sees your heart so you don’t have to worry about the outcome of many situations.
    We also must remember that the Bible says that it’s the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10. God needs wealthy Christians who hear clearly how God wants them to use their money. A good test for me is to gather anything of value that I own and lay these things before The Lord and see if He was to ask me to give anything away would I be willing to do so. It’s a great heart check.

  5. Thanks Andrew. Some good points. I do know someone who decided he was going to give his money to God and live in a tent. He was a Christian Brother I knew from work.He used a piece of string instead of a watchband. People kept giving him watchbands and money. It did all go a bit crazy and he went back to living in a house.
    Thanks Connie. Some more good points.

    I think it is something I shall continue to struggle with, but I agree it comes down to my personal relationship with God.

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