Return on Investment: Jesus Calls Us Not to Measure Our Love By the Payback Principle

Posted: March 23, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke

Luke 14:7-14 — Friendships based on what someone can do for you. If they cannot do something for you, then what’s the point. Networking is the buzz word nowadays at professional meetings. They are a chance to network. Even in churches, people try to measure they worth vs. others by how well they know the pastor. People often choose their spouses based on what they can do for your financial or political future. These are things of pride. Wanting the best seat in the house at sporting events or the theater. We are always seeking places of honor in myriads of ways. We like to separate ourselves from others. We want glory for ourselves. In this passage, Jesus speaks of the issue of pride in the context of a wedding banquet. He teaches us two lessons here.

Jesus first teaches about pride and arrogance. He teaches us that our focus should be on being a servant rather than seeking places of honor. We should give the best away rather than seeking it for ourselves. Instead of seeking the best seat at the table beside the host, we should let others have those places. Jesus says that we will be rewarded for our humility by the host of the banquet. What does this mean for us today? The host of the banquet in this parable of course is our Father in heaven. If it is our bent to make a name for ourselves and that is what is important to us, Jesus says we will certainly find our reward in that in this life. If we make it our aim to have the best that this life offers, we will make these things our gods. We will make seeking personal satisfaction our god. The finest house. The finest wife. The finest car. The finest toys. The finest kids. Seeking earthly treasures, you can find it. The one with the most toys at the end wins. But that’s just it. Those who live to satisfy themselves in the here and now will find those things but the trouble is that these things are not eternal. Houses fade. There is always a newer better house being built. There is always a newer model of a wife and a newer model of a car. Everything in this life fades away. Everything in this life will eventually disappoint because it is not of eternal value. Jesus says the focus of our life should not be on our position in it, but rather serving and loving others in ways that brings glory to God. We must focus on those things that have eternal impact. When we have our focus on loving others and serving them rather than ourselves then we begin to see the world in a new light. When we think outside ourselves, we become more like Christ.

The second thing that Jesus teaches us here is that we should not be self-serving in how we chose those we serve. Jesus challenges us to serve others that can do absolutely nothing for us in return. Love without expectation of payback. Do you serve at the soup kitchen so that you can tell others that you serve at the soup kitchen? Or do you serve there because you are spiritually moved by Christ to serve those that are less fortunate than us. Do you help a homeless man find services that will help him get back on his feet so that you can tell the Facebook world that you helped a homeless man find services that will help him get back on his feet? Or are you spiritually compelled by the joy of your own salvation to give glory to God by helping those who need it most? Do you just love only those who can do something for you? Jesus told us in Matthew’s gospel that the hated tax collectors even do that. Jesus calls us to love others because the Father in heaven loved us first. If we only love those who love us we are simply being self-serving. We are called to love others like Christ loved us. He was willing to go the cross for all people of all time. He loved you and me enough 2,000 years before we were born to go to the cross for us. Certainly, there is nothing we can do for Jesus to deserve this love from Him. He is God in the flesh. There is nothing He needs from us. He is self-sufficient. We cannot wow Jesus in any way in repayment. He is God. But, yet, He loves us so much even thousands of years before we were born to be a sacrifice for our sins. Now, that’s love. Just as a mother who loves the unborn child in her belly long before it is physically born and loves that child continually throughout life not because of what the child can do for her, Jesus loves us in this way. We should love the world around us from the highest to the least not for what they can do for us but because we as Christ followers are called to love the world in the same way Jesus loved. No conditions. No rules. Not for what they can do for us or that we can gain from it. Just love. That’s it. That’s all.

Father help us to not to be self-serving and help us to serve others. Help us to love the world around us not for purpose of manipulating it to serve our needs, but really love. Love was your motivation to send the Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be like the prodigal son and return to our place of honor at your table. You loved us so much as your children that you made the humble choice to enter into our world and be a sacrifice for sin for all time. Help me to not have conditions on my love for others by which they are measured to see what they can do for me. Help me to just love without exception. Love without expectation. Help me to love others as I love my own children. They have my love not for any reason other than they are my children. We should love the world around us because they are your children and not for any other reason. Help me to see this Lord. Help to check my motives for who and why I serve those around me. Is it for me or is it to glorify You, Father! Amen.

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