Summary: We are administrators of the grace of God. As followers of the Master, it is anticipated that we will reflect His compassion and generosity toward others.

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“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” [1]

Instant gratification marks contemporary society; people want immediate fulfilment. I have heard people complain because it required a full minute to reheat a cup of coffee in the microwave. A drive for instant wealth fuelled the stock markets to incredible heights in the late nineties and in 2008. Whereas Canadians were once a nation of “savers,” we have today become a nation of debtors.

Personal gratification appears to be the driving motive for far too many actions witnessed in contemporary society. Even Christians are caught up in this irrational exuberance. We worship, singing the songs we enjoy—selections chosen because of rhythm and melody instead of being concerned about their theological expression. We sing, seeking personal gratification rather singing from desire to honour the Lord. Participation in the work of the Faith is too often motivated by a desire for recognition. We give, anticipating that we will obtain some immediate benefit. Televangelists have taught us that rewards are our due and the rewards sought are immediate. Much of the labour of contemporary Christians is performed with an eye on the moment instead of looking toward eternity.

None should question that God is a gracious and a just Master; He knows our labours and He has pledged to reward those labours that are worthy of His Name. While we may argue that anticipation of rewards is not a proper motive for serving Christ the Lord, God seems to be unimpressed by our scruples. Nevertheless, some Christians have focused on serving solely for what they can receive, instead of focusing on the honour of service to God, as taught by the Master. Therefore, such Christians anticipate immediate repayment for their service. God alone is able to recognise motives for service, but we may be assured that He does know the motive for every service presented in His Name.

THE BACKGROUND TO THE MESSAGE — Since so many of the incidents recorded in the Gospel accounts are unfamiliar to newer Christians, and since it is always helpful to review familiar stories to ensure that nothing is neglected, it will no doubt be helpful for us to review this pericope in order to ensure that each of us fully understand the events that elicited this teaching from Jesus.

The ministry of the Master was marked by conflict from the beginning. Especially incensed at His teaching were civic and religious leaders. Divided by worldview, they were nevertheless united against every threat to their tenacious hold on power. Jesus, through His emphasis that man is created to be free before God, was a threat to their position and to their power. Therefore, they sought to discredit Him.

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