I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Common English Bible
Happy people and doomed people
20 Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said:
“Happy are you who are poor,
because God’s kingdom is yours.
21 Happy are you who hunger now,
because you will be satisfied.
Happy are you who weep now,
because you will laugh.
22 Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One.[a] 23 Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.
24 But how terrible for you who are rich,
because you have already received your comfort.
25 How terrible for you who have plenty now,
because you will be hungry.
How terrible for you who laugh now,
because you will mourn and weep.
26 How terrible for you when all speak well of you.
Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.
Behaving as God’s children
27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. 31 Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
There are two collections of Jesus’ teachings that are commonly called “sermons.” The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) and the much shorter Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49). Today’s reading is from the Sermon on the Plain. Both sermons begin with beatitudes or statements of joy. However, Luke’s Sermon on the Plain also includes “woes,” as in “woe to you.” The Common English Bible translates it as “how terrible for you.” These are warnings about the terrible cost of greed, gluttony, apathy, and living to gain everyone else’s approval.
As I read these words today, I can’t help but think of Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins—a list Mohandas Gandhi published in his weekly newspaper Young India on October 22, 1925. Later he gave this same list to his grandson, Arun Gandhi, written on a piece of paper on their final day together shortly before his assassination. The Seven Sins are:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Religion without sacrifice.
Politics without principle. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Social_Sins)
Think about Jesus’ warning and Gandhi’s list and how they go hand-in-hand. Then, imagine
Wealth with work.
Pleasure with conscience.
Knowledge with character.
Commerce with morality.
Science with humanity.
Religion with sacrifice.
Politics with principle.
Verse 31 is where we find the Golden Rule in Luke: “Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.” It is Matthew 7:12 in that gospel. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a form of the Golden Rule from Leviticus 19:18 that Jesus quotes in part of his answer to the question, “Which commandment is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:39)
It is fascinating how the Golden Rule is part of the teachings of virtually all the world’s other religions. Here are some examples:
Judaism – In addition to Leviticus 19:18, there is this teaching in the Talmud: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” — Babylonian Talmud, Hillel the Elder (c. 110 BCE – 10 CE)
Islam – “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.” (Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146)
Baháʼí – “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” (Bahá’u’lláh)
Hinduism – “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udanavarga 5:18)
Jainism – “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. (Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33)
Confucianism – “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.” (Confucius, Analects XV.24)
Taoism – “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” (T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien)
Zoroastrianism – Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself. (Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29)
The “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic” from the Parliament of the World’s Religions (1993) proclaimed the Golden Rule as the common principle for many religions. The Initial Declaration was signed by 143 leaders from all of the world’s major faiths, including Baháʼí Faith, Brahmanism, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Neo-Pagan, Sikhism, Taoism, Theosophist, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian.
It is so simple and yet so profound. Imagine a world in which everyone followed the Golden Rule. You and I can’t make that happen, but we can choose to do our best to follow it in our own lives.
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Where Charity and Love Prevail”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
Brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound.
With grateful joy and holy fear
God’s charity we learn;
Let us with heart and mind and soul
now love God in return.
Forgive we now each other’s faults
as we our faults confess;
And let us love each other well
in Christian holiness.
Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
Be God’s the glory that we seek,
be ours God’s holy peace.
Let us recall that in our midst
dwells God’s begotten Son;
As members of his body joined,
we are in Christ made one.
No race or creed can love exclude,
if honored be God’s name;
Our family embraces all
whose Father is the same.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster