“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38
In many parts of the world, open-air markets are still the primary way grain is sold. An honest and generous merchant will take a basket, pour some grain into it, and press it down to make room for more. He will shake the basket from side to side to help all the tiny grains fill in any air pockets. And, then he will press it down some more, adding grain as he goes. This pressing down and shaking process allows the basket to be completely full of grain- no air pocket is left unfilled. A VERY generous merchant will go a step further. He will take the grains into his hand, and when the basket is complete, he will begin to funnel the grain through his hand. By doing this, he adds an upside-down cone of grain to the top of the basket. Now the basket is packed to the brim with a lovely peak of grain on top. When the basket is picked up and carried, the grains shift, and the overflow can pour into the carrier’s lap. What a fantastic image!
This verse from Luke 6:38 is only found here in the Scriptures. Jesus himself said these words as part of the Sermon on the Mount.
The context of Luke 6:38 is the topic of judging and forgiving others. Jesus wanted us to know that the way we treat others, by forgiving them or not forgiving them, will be the standard by which we will be judged. He wanted us to understand that our treatment of others is important and has definite consequences in our lives. In a sense, this verse is telling us we will reap what we sow. This idea of being held to the same standard should be a powerful motivation for us to forgive, knowing we will be judged the way we judge. So be generous with your judgment and forgiveness of others!
A story is told of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross; a friend reminded her of an especially painful thing that someone had done to her some years before. Barton appeared like she didn’t remember it, and the friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her well-known reply was, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.” This is what generous forgiveness looks like!
Monday night Bible study at the Smith’s house was one of my favorite nights of the week. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were retired missionaries and were gifted in hospitality. On Monday nights, Mrs. Smith always had a meal prepared for anyone who might come to the study. Of course, she never knew if there would be 10, 20, or even 30 crammed into her small living room for a time of fellowship. Regardless of the number that arrived, the food always seemed to stretch to meet the need. Many times, I heard Mrs. Smith quote this verse from Luke 6:38. Mrs. Smith would say, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return.” Of course, she said it in the KJV.
I loved hearing her say this verse when people would say to her, do you think there will be enough food? I didn’t completely understand what the verse meant at the time but hearing this godly woman say these words brought great comfort to me and inspired me to learn Scripture for myself.
Does this verse about pressing down and shaking together apply to all types of generosity, including giving food, money, and time? Or is forgiveness its only application?
This principle applies to every area of life, including God’s provision of food. A principle is thought of as an idea from which other truths can come. The basic principle is that if we are generous, the generosity will be returned. This principle is true of life, money, forgiveness, time, and even giving our home to hospitality. Just try smiling at a stranger and see what happens (especially in the south)!
We know from Scripture that God loves generosity and especially when employed cheerfully:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:6-8
So, here is a second thing we must understand when we study God’s word. Context is essential, but we must never forget to interpret Scripture in light of itself. In other words, when we read a verse, we must consider if there is any other place in Scripture that teaches the same principle. And if we find such a place, we can use those Scriptures to understand the overarching principle taught. Some people explain this principle this way, “you can never out-give God.”
When studying Scripture, look for context first and then consider if there is a central principle. By doing these two things, you will have a better and more complete view of Scripture.
So, today as you go about your day, consider how you can extend generosity to someone else. Maybe let someone else have the better parking place, perhaps allow a mom with a cartload of kiddos to go first at the cashier, maybe take a meal to a sick friend, or just think the best about someone else and offer generous forgiveness?
Today, keep in mind Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”