Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

Luke 6:24-36
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (ESV) Luke 6:24-36

The coming Kingdom of God in his life, ministry, death, and resurrection is Jesus’ theme. His awesome arrival on earth makes possible our entrance into his kingdom and the transfer of kingdom life qualities and character into our mind, body, and soul.  Yes, Jesus means for powerful, spiritual qualities to be alive in us for our good, the good of others, and the glory of God.   

This transformation is what we really need for our sinful flesh to be changed by the Spirit’s power into the likeness of Christ.  Not only is this what we need it’s a reality that Jesus desires for us with a passion!  He longs for us to be free from our sinful ways and this chain-breaking freedom is truly possible through Christ!

But, Jesus knows that there are obstacles in our way and like a loving shepherd he points out those obstacles to us, his sheep, for our good.  These obstacles are deceiving because they don’t look like obstacles at all.  In fact, they are all celebrated as desirable qualities of those who have achieved success from ages past until now.

In this list of woes, Jesus is compassionately warning us that people who can pay their bills and have money in the bank, are well fed, who live a carefree life, and are spoken well of by others are in danger of missing the kingdom.  How could having these celebrated material and status blessings serve as obstacles to kingdom life? It’s possible because material and status blessings can easily become idols that we pursue instead of Jesus and his kingdom.  

The constant press of our surrounding culture makes it easy to slide into a security found in the good life of net worth, full pantry, constant entertainment and the praise of others.   All of these conspire to erode our hunger and thirst for righteousness and the urgency to love our neighbors as ourselves. To this Jesus says “Woe”!

Another way to translate, “Woe” is with the phrase “how terrible” (Good News Bible).  Try reading these four woes with the phrase “how terrible” in place of “woe.”  Can you imagine the love of Jesus as he raises the warning flag to spare us the pain of regret, should we live our entire lives under the deceptive lure of riches and comfort?

How can we avoid living a woeful life?  Jesus says we do it by loving people who don’t love us.  This means doing good to them, expecting nothing in return.  Leading our lives with kindness and mercy is the kind of life that is rewarded for all of eternity, not one filled with self sufficiency and the praise of men.  Today, let’s agree together and with the Lord that we will be a people who are generous, kind, merciful, and loving to everyone and leave the woeful life behind for good.

Dear Lord, thank you for teaching me through your word.  I find it so easy to be caught up in the false gods of materialism and the praise of people. Please forgive all of the ways that I place my plans, comfort, and social status before your kingdom plans and purposes.  I need your grace today Jesus to reorient my life away from myself and onto those around me who aren’t easy to love.  People just like me before you broke my own bonds of sin and shame.  Thank you Jesus.  In your name I pray, Amen.

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God