Question: Please comment on Luke 6:30-35. If someone steals from us, should we make no effort to get our possessions back? Also, “And lend, hoping for nothing again”; is this talking about not receiving interest on what we loaned, or that we should not look to receive back what we loaned?
Answer: I will first insert the text of Luke 6:30-35.” “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. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”
I acknowledge that for a long time, I myself stumbled at this passage and mulled around over it quite a little. But I think the reason I did was because I was taking it out of context. Any time we do this, we are likely to be thrown into confusion and wonderment as to the meaning of any specified text. I am reminded of a time when Bro. Gene Harmon was on the ground cutting rafters for the roof of a house he was building, and two men were on top putting them up. One of the men called down to Brother Harmon and said, “Here is one that doesn’t fit.” And Brother Harmon, without stopping his work or looking up, called back and said, “Put it where it belongs and it will fit.” Sure enough, it was so. The men on top were trying to put it in the wrong place. Many are doing this with the Scriptures, and making them mean something which they do not mean at all. Scriptures have their place and proper setting, and in that context mean exactly what Jesus had in mind for them to mean. Taken out of context, those same Scriptures can be made to mean something far different from what Jesus had in mind.
The passage under consideration here is a part of a more extended passage, and in connection with the other part of the passage comes out with clear and balanced meaning. This passage begins with verse 27 and ends with verse 36, and the part involved in this question is sandwiched between the first and the last. I do not have the thought now, though I did to some extent for a long time, that Jesus in these verses is teaching indiscriminate giving or indiscriminate lending or just general, promiscuous, wholesale charities and benevolence on any line to just anybody and everybody that asks of us.
Verses 27-29 say, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.” Taken in this context the statement in verse 30, “Give to every man that asketh of thee;…” seems to teach that if an enemy or one that hates me or has just cursed me and despitefully used me and has smitten me in the face and taken away my cloke (or possessions) or whatever, if he turns up in need of some help and comes to me for help, I am not to withhold from him help which I could give, because he is an enemy or has done these evil things to me. But I am to return good for evil (Romans 12:20-21) and help him just as I would a friend. I recall a time when I was praying and meditating over the text, “Love your enemies”; the Lord spoke straight out to me and told me my enemy was just the same to Him as my friend was, and that I was to see all men through His eyes and serve Him in kindness and in benevolence toward my enemies as well as toward my friends. When Jesus said, “every man” in this text, I interpret it that way, rather than to a general, wholesale, promiscuous giving to anybody and everybody whom I might know were going to gamble with it or buy liquor or narcotics with it. I cannot feature Jesus teaching any such thing and making us helpers of the evil deeds.
When Jesus spoke of “…him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again,” He was not referring to a person’s outright stealing from us. But this is in connection with the last part of verse 30, and is made a little clearer maybe in Matthew 5:38-41, and more particularly verse 40 which reads, “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” This is clearly not a man (a thief) stealing from you, but a man who has some complaint against you sufficient to make a case out of, and he sues you and wins the suit in court and takes away your cloke (or some of your possessions), give him more than he asks. This whole passage in Matthew 5, is teaching us away from the old law, “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” tit for tat and giving back just what we received concept, and teaching us to give full satisfaction to anyone who has a complaint against us. Instead of asking a return of what they took away, give them even more than they ask, if necessary, to satisfy the complaint.
In verse 35, Jesus said, “…Lend, hoping for nothing again;…” The Scriptures teach us to “Owe no man any thing,…” (Romans 13:8). In other words, pay our obligations. Also, in Romans 12:17 we read, “…Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:…” In other words, he does not pay his debts. This is God’s teaching for our financial dealings with our fellow men, and God surely expects people to pay back what they borrow. We have a right to expect that, too. But what the Spirit and disposition of God is against is our doing good and being helpful and benevolent and lending as a Christian person, but at the same time having the sneaking idea in the back of our mind that some time we may get a pay back on that by exacting some favor from the borrower in return. True Christians never do a favor to another person with the idea in mind of obligating that person to return the favor. This idea is covered in 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 neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
The extended passage of Luke 6:27-36 closes by saying, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” The overall passage teaches us to be merciful unto all men whether friend or foe. This is really the crux of the whole matter here.