“When you give a lunch or a supper, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbours, in case they also invite you in return, and then you have your repayment. But when you make a big meal, invite the poor, the injured, the disabled, the blind, and you will be blessed that they can’t repay you, because you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)
There is a commanding quality in Jesus’s words. It’s as if he’s saying, “I know this might not make total sense to you now, but trust me this is important. Do what I say, and you will see what I mean.”
Jesus is recommending that we throw parties for those in need rather than our friends and family.
When we do anything with the expectation of being repaid in the forseeable future, we are working to advance ourselves in this world. That means we are accumulating perishable rewards. But Jesus tells us to accumulate only imperishable rewards.
He never tells us not to seek rewards. He says what matters is the kind of reward our heart is set on.
Sometimes we are told we should be selfless and give up wanting any reward.
But Jesus tells us to accumulate treasure in heaven—and to seek the blessing that comes from being repaid at the resurrection of the just.
Jesus himself is fully alive because he does what’s right. Being fully alive is the natural reward for doing what’s right. And so, we can expect a reward for every act of justice.
And for Jesus, giving to those in need is justice.
Jesus wants us to give freely—meeting someone’s need because that need matters to us—without any expectation or demand that they will repay us.
Jesus wants us to give as God gives.
One of the rewards for generosity is learning to care for others in a pure and simple way. Being able to truly care for others is an imperishable reward, and I cannot imagine a better one in this life or the next.
I’ll be happy to spend quality time this Christmas with friends, family, and acquaintances, including some who I know are especially in need of connection and belonging.