Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Luke 6:30-32 -- On Giving and Loving and Retaining the Spirit

"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them."
Luke 6:30-32

These are some teachings of Christ.  I think some of them are somewhat less known probably because they are more difficult to do, and we don't tend to quote things that we are failing at. :)

The first thing here is to give to everyone who asks.  That's a pretty big one.  And then, if someone takes your stuff, don't ask for it back.  And then, treat people the way that we would want to be treated... clearly applied to people who are not treating us well.  And then to sum up, the emphasis on the need to love people who do not love us.  We tend to not like commandments like this, because we think that following them makes us gullible chumps that anyone can take advantage of.  But this is Christ himself asking this, right?  I don't think that his goal was to make us into the laughingstock of the scammer world, or to encourage us to bankrupt ourselves.  So, what is he asking?

Mosiah 4:24 tells us what to do when we don't have enough to give, so God isn't asking us to give more than we have, and I think that it also implies that we should be giving to people who have a need, not that we have to give to people who do not have a need, or invest in every scam that we hear about.  This doesn't mean that rich people don't have needs, or that Christ wants us to pass up a beggar on the street because we assume that he or she is a charlatan, or refuse to give because we have a mortgage and it could technically be argued that we don't "have" extra, even though we spend extra on ourselves.  But it probably does mean that we don't have to donate to every telemarketer or direct-mail charity, or Nigerian prince, that asks for our money.

On not asking to get our stuff back when it is taken... I think this is a hard but wise commandment and that it is all about our own peace.  If someone does scam us or wrong us in some way, the injustice of the whole thing can eat away at us, and all we think about is making it right.  And if we're prompted by the spirit, sometimes taking legal action might be the right thing to do, in order to prevent other people from suffering as well.  But often "making it right" isn't going to happen, and the effort and stress isn't going to help anyone.  So God asks us in general to accept the loss and move on.  God will make things right, and he will bless us abundantly.  No matter what goods we lost, it can be okay as we let go of our bitterness and trust in God.

Treating people well and loving them even when they do not love us or treat us well is perhaps the most difficult.  Sometimes we can muster up the action, but the sincerity part is hard to get.  ... Perhaps that is true of all of these commandments, in fact.  Doing as Christ asks, sincerely and with Faith and Love is challenging if we feel torn by giving, or being stolen from, or treated badly, or disrespected.  But let's remember how much Christ suffered at the hands of others, and was still generous, still kept his temper, still showed love, still behaved himself perfectly.  He showed us the example that our peace and our love and our well-being aren't based in what happens to us externally, but it is based on who we *are* internally, and that in turn is based on our relationship with God, and him teaching us to be better and better people.

Today, let's work on that internal peace that it takes to obey these less-popular commandments.  Let's give, and love, and refuse to allow other people or external events to destroy our ability to feel the spirit... which is exactly why Christ gave us these commandments in the first place. :)

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