Jesus began instructions to his followers with some confusing contrasts.
Wealth and Poverty
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6.20, 24)
Are all rich people in trouble? On the other hand, are all poor people blessed?
Do the contrasting ideas make you think? They should. That’s why Jesus said them.
I know some wealthy people who use their wealth to the glory of God. In today’s YouTube video I talk about one of them and how he was a humble servant of God.
It is reasonable to believe the mere fact of being poor doesn’t qualify someone for God’s blessing.
The point of Jesus’ message is that he is present. How people respond to Jesus will determine blessing or woe.
When poverty drives someone to Jesus or when riches don’t prevent someone from following Jesus, blessing is the result.
Woe to the person who allows poverty to produce bitterness and envy, or the rich person who is full of pride and self-sufficiency.
Hunger and Well-Fed
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.” (Luke 6.21, 25)
The singer and song writer, Harry Chapin, devoted half of his income to fund causes that attempted to end world hunger. I have printed the lyrics to one of his songs that describes the utter pain of hunger.
I am born today
The Sun burns a promise
In my eye
Mama strikes me
And I draw a breath and cry
Above me a cloud
Slowly tumbles through the sky
I am glad, to be alive
It is my seventh day
I taste the hunger
And I cry
My Brother and sister
Cling to Mama’s side
She squeezes her breast
But it has nothing to provide
Someone weeps, I fall asleep
It is twenty days today
Mama does not hold me
I open my mouth
But I am to weak to cry
Above me a bird slowly crawls across the sky
Why is there nothing
Now to do but die? (The Shortest Story by Harry Chapin)
To be honest I don’t know how the hungry can be blessed. I do know this. God chooses to bless hungry people.
If God chooses to bless the hungry, should I not do the same?
I am full and need to lose some weight. Should I not find ways to support people whom God says are blessed?
I will close the article today with Jesus’ counsel that is directed to people like me.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets” (Luke 6.26).
For everyone who is like me and wrestles with pleasing people, Jesus wants us to know that we share the applause of the crowd with the false prophets.
I recall a time as a young pastor, when I was caught between two powerful individuals who were attempting to steer the church according to their own preference.
When I left that meeting I said to myself, “The hard part of this job is you can’t tell everybody ‘yes.'”
If we are to help people live a Jesus-kind-of-life, we will not be to always tell them “yes.”
Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy has several insights on the verses that you will want to hear. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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