The Book of Luke, Let Grace Be Grace! - Lesson 177
Luke 14:12‑14, Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
Jesus Christ has just instructed those who had been bidden to the home of one of the chief Pharisees for a Sabbath dinner.
The discussion concerned the jockeying for position that He observed by all those who had come, for they made great efforts to try to sit at a table which would most benefit themselves.
They were looking to sit at a place where they would receive most honor but Jesus Christ said that they would receive most honor by humbling themselves and sitting in the lowest room.
The difference in perspective is that they were looking for honor from men but Jesus Christ was talking about honor from God.
They desired temporal honor but Jesus Christ desired for them eternal honor.
This is the crux of the matter for upon this understanding rests the need for faith.
Faith satisfies the need for honor, for faith tells us that honor will come to those who humble themselves in service to God.
Honor will come to those who do not seek honor for themselves in this life but believe by faith that God will provide honor at the right time and according to his wisdom.
Now after addressing those who were bidden to the dinner, he now attends to the host of the Sabbath meal for he then turns to him that invited him.
The former conversation about jockeying for position concerned the guests but now Jesus Christ turns his attention to the host who in his way is also jockeying for position.
Now the host, as far as finding the best place to sit, was not an object of discussion, for his seat at the Sabbath meal was assured.
This was his home and his place was at the head of the most prestigious table in the house.
He did not have to jockey for position for he already had the position.
But Christ does not let evil go unexposed, even as an invited guest, for there is much evil on the part of the host for as we see from Christís description of the guests this host only invites those who promote his standing.
As a chief of the Pharisees he indeed has position, but he takes action to keep that position by favoring those who can insure that position.
It is not just where a person sits at the table that gives him status, but also with whom a person is sitting at that table.
It is of this world and this world's order to invite those who are most likely to do us some good in return.
Jesus invites the question: Do you only show favor and generosity to those who will repay you in kind?
The normal thing is to invite family members or friends and neighbors, who will return the favor in kind or of another kind.
Jesus is saying here that we are tempted to give in order to get.
In this world, men invite their friends and the rich, in order to gain something even greater than what they invested by their invitations and hospitality.
They hope for a profit to return for that which they give.
However, in God's economy, men are to be gracious to the helpless and gracious to those who cannot pay them back, so that when the kingdom of God is established on the earth God may reward them.
There is more to this lesson than banqueting and eating, more to this than inviting as guests the poor, the crippled the lame and the blind.
This should be done but the greater lesson is that we are to let grace be grace.
We are not to mix grace with works.
We are not to let grace be diluted by an expectation of a return for a gracious act which proves that it was not a gracious act in the first place.
I remember often a lady with whom I worked who would always say after I had done her a favor, ďI owe you one!Ē
She would not let a good deed go unreturned.
She refused to accept grace as grace.
She assumed that what I had done required a return on her part.
If you react like this to someone, who with a pure heart, extends grace your way, it is to him a slap in the face for it questions his motives for extending grace.
And that same slap in the face occurs when you refuse God's grace.
This attitude refuses to acknowledge that grace is operating.
But the principle of grace is made by God. God's grace is pure.
You cannot repay God for your salvation.
Salvation is pure grace and pure grace alone.
The motive for God's grace is love.
For God so loved the world that he gave.
He did not give with the expectation for return for he gave out of love with no expectation of return.
But people the world over refuse the grace of God and instead try to pay back God with their works.
Salvation, as an example of Godís grace, is so far above any human effort that can be made, that it shows us perfectly what grace is.
How can you pay God for sins forgiven?
What can you do to cancel Godís grace in giving his Son to die in your stead?
The answer is nothing!
The gift of life is pure grace on Godís part and establishes what grace is.
Grace is to be grace and grace alone.
It is not to be repaid and you are not to put yourself in a position for any grace you extend to be repaid.
Sometimes we have good intentions and do good for someone no expecting nothing in return but when in fact we get nothing in return we get mad at the one who benefited from our good works.
In truth what we did was not given with a pure heart and was not grace.
But any true grace you extend is to be extended by faith and to be extended in Godís stead for God is the author of Grace.
God wishes for you to be his agent of grace.
The question is ďWho are you extending grace for? Yourself or for God?
When you expect a return in this world on an investment of grace it is no longer grace and you are no longer an agent of grace.
In Proverbs 19:17 God engages you as that agent when he says:
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
This kind of giving of ourselves as lending to the Lord is a definite act of faith for it is believing God for something to be returned to us after this short life of ours on earth.
Do you see the principle here?
You extend pity on the poor in Godís stead.
You are his agent for pity.
You are his tears, you are his hands, you are his feet, you are his wallet, you are his purse.
You are his agent for grace.
You extend Godís grace on the poor.
You have nothing that God did not already give you so that when you extend what you think is yours it is really extending what God has given you to extend.
So in the end all grace comes from God.
He says that when you extend pity on the poor you are simply lending unto the Lord.
When you lend something you are to expect a return.
The difference in this kind of lending is that the return requires an act of faith for the return will come at the resurrection of the just as we have learned in Verse 14:
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
There is an old saying that goes like this:
Donít sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.
This applies to this situation where Christ told the host to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind instead of the rich and the powerful, those who could help in his advancement in this life.
That host would see advancement now, which was the immediate, but he would be sacrificing the permanent, that is, being an agent for Godís grace and being recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
When you extend Godís grace to those who cannot make recompense God will consider himself your debtor, and will recompense you in the resurrection of the righteous.
So Jesus Christ provides this contrasting picture of two dinner parties to show us what is of a pure heart.
Compare dinner party #1 consisting of hospitality given to those who can return such hospitality or something of equal value or even greater value with dinner party #2 that Jesus Christ proposes.
This first party is a transaction that takes place on this earth between two people, the host and the guest.
It is a quid pro quo party.
A something for something party, a tit for tat or favor for favor party.
When the favor for favor takes place the transaction is over.
But the party that Jesus Christ proposes, a party whereby the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind are the guests is a transaction that takes place in heaven between God, the host, and the guests.
For the host is the agent of Godís grace and the guests are the recipients of Godís grace.
It is a party whereby the heart of the host is pure, it is a heart that expects nothing from the guests but expects everything from God for being his agent of grace.
The hospitality is given but the transaction is not over for God has said he will reward the host at the resurrection of the just.
This expectation requires faith which pleases God and therefore is a good expectation.
Now this standard of hospitality is a most difficult standard but it is a standard nevertheless.
Exercising hospitality with such a pure heart is true righteousness for it is given with Godís will in mind rather then our own will.
Jesus is teaching here just what true righteousness and genuine hospitality actually are; and if that is the case, we find here a righteousness that is far above us.
This is what man SHOULD do, regardless of the fact that all men find themselves unable, absolutely, to live up to this standard and can only be approached by the power of the Spirit of God.
This is similar to the command of Matthew 5:48 where we are told "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect"
But the command of Christ is clear.
We are not to give in Godís stead with an expectation of return in this life but with an expectation of return in the next.
We are to be Godís agent of grace knowing that God will reward us for doing his work with a pure heart.
Perhaps you and I can do what Christ has taught here by hosting missionary families that visit our church.
They certainly cannot repay us but God will repay us.
Perhaps you can take time to visit the elderly in the nursing homes with our church group or at other times.
What can those old folks do for you?
They, in most cases, are strangers but God wants to visit them and talk to them and he can visit and talk to them them though you.
They canít do much for you so perhaps you can do something for them and also have a pure heart in doing so.
I think about our teachers who take care to love the little ones for God.
What can the little ones do for their teachers.
Can these little children advance their careers, will their efforts help in jockeying for position?
Jesus Christ is telling us to do things for others who cannot return the favor.
He is wanting us to put ourselves purposely in a position to extend his grace with a pure heart.
He wants us to do this knowing that what we do, will not reward us in this life but doing it anyway knowing that God will reward us at the resurrection of the just.
That is why he tells this host instead of inviting those who can only do you good, go ahead and invite those who have absolutely no power to do you good, the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
Invite only those who are takers of your grace and have no ability to give back but knowing that God will give back for you are simply the agent of his grace.
And Jesus Christ promises: thou shalt be blessed.
This of course requires faith for everything that God does is so that faith is exercised for God makes sure in his economy that the just shall indeed live by faith.