Wednesday 13th March – Luke 6:37-38 ‘The measures we use…’

Luke 6:37-38

One of my all-time favourite Christmas films is ‘It’s a wonderful life’.  It tells the story of George Bailey, a man who gives his life to helping others, but falls on hard times.  Despairing of everything, he thinks about ending it all, when he happens to meet an angel, Clarence Oddbody, who shows him, in a series of visions, how his life of service has changed the community in which he lives, and made so many lives better. 

George returns to his town and his home and finds people crowding round to bless him in return.  It’s the ultimate feel-good, heart-warming story, and its message is simple: what goes around, comes around.  What George gave out to others for all those years was paid back to him when he needed it.

As it happens, this simple proverb is not just found in Christmas films – it’s also right here in the teaching of Jesus.  You could say that Jesus invented it!  ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ (v38)  It’s the flip side of the golden rule: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’  Whilst this sounds incredibly daunting, there’s a follow-up, which sets it in context: if we give ourselves in this way, God always repays – we’ll find that our kindness is paid back to us.  If we refuse to judge or condemn, then neither will we be judged or condemned. If we give generously, then we will receive generously in return.  And because our great God is gracious and generous, it won’t be a sparing return: ‘a good measure… will be poured into your lap’ (v38).

This is what distinguishes Jesus’ teaching from the ancient principle of karma.  It sounds similar, but this is not ‘the universe’ paying you back, it’s a person: it’s God himself.  And this God usually repays more generously than we expect.  Yes, it might come via the giving of other people, but there is a divine hand behind it.  The measure we use is returned to us.

This is challenging teaching for those who use bad or sparing measures; but it is wonderfully encouraging for all of us seeking to live out Jesus’ teaching.  God sees our efforts, and we can trust that he will repay – he always does.  May that thought lift your heart today, to keep living Jesus’ way – and may God grant all of us all that we need, returning the measure we use back to us.