Giving & Receiving, Part I

“Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides. For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:24-25)

Now brothers and sisters, I want you to listen up. For much confusion has been had over this verse which we have just quoted here, and I want you to be made perfectly clear with regards to its exact meaning, so that you are not deceived.

The first thing that Jesus says here is that we are to “Take care what [we] listen to.” He says this because He is concerned about our awful tendency to judge one another unrighteously, based on what we have heard (hence, “Take care what you listen to,” or, “Be careful in the midst of your listening.”). Yes, we are indeed prone to doing that, are we not? We listen to one person saying something (just the end of a sentence, or we may have walked in on the conversation), and based on just a few words, really, we are ready to form a judgment, yes, and even write off that person! Shame on us. Jesus would never do that. He is patient, as it says in the Bible (2 Peter 3:9).

Next, Jesus goes on to say that, “By your standard of measure is shall be measured to you.” I feel it would be good to pay attention to the fact that this same statement is found in two other places in Scripture, namely, in Matthew 7:2, and in Luke 6:38. Usually (I have found), when God puts the same statement in several passages of Scripture, there is a good reason for it. First, it must be an important statement to be repeated two other times. Second (what is ideal), is that, since this statement can be found in two other passages, those two other passages can help us greatly to understand what exactly this whole verse really means. In other words, the other two passages provide us with a different “dimension,” or “facet” of this verse. Let’s therefore pay attention to them!

Notice, if you will, that Matthew 7:1-12 deals with the following two critical areas: (1) our tendency to judge unrighteously, and (2) God’s willingness to give us what we really need in life. Listen up if you are sick or suffering! It just may be that by applying these verses diligently, that you will actually be able to help yourself get better, or get over, the condition that you are suffering from. Furthermore, Matthew 7:1-12 beautifully ties these two concepts together, by telling us that if we will forsake judging others in an unrighteous way, then God, in fact, will be willing to give us what we need. In the midst of this passage, we find this verse, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2). This verse is essentially the same (although worded a little differently at the start) as Mark 4:24, which we just went over.

Luke 6:27-38 also deals with the whole issue of unrighteous (vs. righteous) judgment. Contrary to popular belief, Luke 6:38 is not an appropriate passage to use to support the notion that, if we give money to the church (or church leaders), then God will somehow be “obligated” to have to give back an even greater portion to us. Context does not support it, and the only real, proper interpretation of “Give, and it will be given to you (etc.),” in this passage, is that Jesus is simply saying that we are to be merciful (hence, “Give mercy, and mercy will be given to you (etc.)”). There is no sense whatsoever that the passage is dealing with money (which would render the verse equivalent to “Give money, and money will be given to you.”) In fact, three verses back (in Luke 6:35), Jesus has already said that His followers are to “lend, expecting nothing in return.” That amounts to giving — and yet Jesus says that we are to do so expecting nothing in return.

Having established all this, we find again in Luke 6:38 the statement which we found in both Mark 4:24 and Matthew 7:2, namely, “For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38b). All of this should clue us in to one important thing. The passage deals with our need to give mercy, not money! A diligent study of all three of these corresponding passages clearly demonstrates that God is very interested in this thing called unrighteous judgment, and our tendency to exact it. We are told, through these verses, that if we judge unrighteously, then we will be judged in return. This judgment could take the form of various problems, including physical, emotional, relational, financial problems … you name it!

Finally, now, let us take a look at the last part of our study verse for today, which says, “For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:25). I think if we examine the passage carefully, and do justice to it (like we are supposed to), then we must absolutely conclude that Jesus is referring to only one thing when He says “For whoever has …” That “thing” is mercy. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that “For whoever has [mercy on others], to him shall more [mercy] be given [by God]; and whoever does not have [mercy upon others], even what [the mercy which] he has [been given by God] shall be taken away from him.” This is it! So it’s a bit of warning (to say the least). How many people do you know that have lost everything, really, because of this one biblical “rule” being “worked out” in their life? Plenty, probably. Don’t let it happen to you.

How much mercy are you having upon others? These verses should truly motivate you!

Do a few things: (1) Make that call to the person that you absolutely don’t want to. Do it today, or right now, if at all possible (don’t put this aside!); (2) Start associating with people, or certain groups of people, that you tend to feel resentful towards. You will be an absolute winner in God’s eyes when you start doing this, and God will bless you. (3) Forgive the preachers who have used Luke 6:38 in an incorrect way, by using it to try and exact money out of you. That was wrong on their part, but it would be equally wrong for you to bear a grudge against them. Release them, and carry on.

Modified July 22, 1998