As Jesus looked around the room, I wonder what kind of people he saw? A lot of people were invited to this dinner, and I would guess that he was the only one who was not considered at least moderately well off.
And so he said,
When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (12-14)
Two things strike me here. Although this “prominent” pharisee undoubtedly gave alms to the poor, I strongly doubt he ever invited any of these poor to his dinners. At another guess, I doubt if the thought of entertaining the poor to a dinner at his house had ever even crossed his mind.
Why not? Probably because he was more interested in gaining the admiration of his friends and the people around him for his house and the food he served. He was more interested in hanging out with his friends and furthering his reputation among them than reaching out to the hurting around him.
Many times, we give tithes to the church, but use the rest of our money solely for ourselves. We think that now we’ve given our tithes to the church, our “duty” to God is discharged in terms of money. But God calls us to be givers. Not just inside of church, but outside the church. And if you can give to help someone you know in need, God will bless you.
The second thing that strikes me is our attitude in giving. Are we giving expecting to be given back? Or do we give freely of what God has given us, expecting nothing in return? Jesus makes it clear here that it is the latter that God blesses.
I have to admit, I struggle with giving. I’m not a natural giver. But if we are to be like Jesus, we need to learn to give as he did: sacrificially, expecting nothing in return, helping those who are hurting.
What kind of giver are you?