Luke 14:12-14

What Does Luke 14:12-14 Mean?

Warren E. Berkley

“Then He also said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

Like any other passage in the Bible, this one cannot be understood or applied if contextual information is ignored. The scene is Jesus in the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and challenged the religious experts regarding their enforcement of the Sabbath (based on human tradition). Jesus observed how the guests “chose the best places,” and in response to this practice He “told a parable” to them. The point of the parable was: “For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” (see all of this in Luke 14:1-11).

Beginning with verse 12, be sure you don’t miss who Jesus was speaking to! “Then He also said to him who invited Him.” This took place in “the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees.” Jesus observed the guests and their motives (see verse 7). He also witnessed the host and his motives. Luke gives us this information. It is apparently useful and necessary in understanding the teaching and making any application. When we read the opening of the paragraph, “when you give a dinner or a supper,” we ought to understand that as Jesus speaking to the Pharisee who hosted the feast. This is what Jesus said “to him who invited Him.”

Jesus admonished the host: “Do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors.” If we had only this prohibition, we might be tempted to conclude that nobody should ever entertain or feed their friends or relatives, nor share their table with someone classified as “rich neighbors” (economic discrimination). This conclusion would come in conflict with other teachings we know to require that we afford care and hospitality toward others, without discrimination (Rom. 12:20; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 2:17, etc.).

Hence, this is not just a stand-alone prohibition! It has context. Remember, Jesus has observed the motives of both host and guests; the teaching springs from this scene! Apparently, the host invited guests to this feast with selfish expectation of his own future social advantage. That’s the meaning of the phrase, “lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.”

I believe Jesus spoke this saying to an audience who needed to be admonished about their motives (both in hosting and attending a feast). The guests were guilty of choosing the best places to exalt themselves (read vss. 7-11). The host was guilty of inviting people, with selfish expectation of his own future social advantage. He invited people expecting future favor (“lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid”).

To stress the lesson this host needed to learn, Jesus stating the opposite; the greater motive: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Jesus is not forbidding us to feed or entertain our relatives, friends or neighbors; nor is He recommending social/economic discrimination. He is stating the case against the kind of “hospitality” which finds its purpose in expectation of personal favor (hoping your guests will return the favor; reciprocating).

W. Clarkson well states the matter in Pulpit Commentary: “THE CORRECTION OF A COMMON FAULT. Jesus Christ did not, indeed, intend to condemn outright all family or social gatherings of a festive character. He had already sanctioned these by his own presence. The idiomatic language, ‘do not, but,’ signifies, not a positive interdiction of the one thing, but the superiority of the other.”

But may the lesson not be lost on us! To seek the best places; to exalt ourselves; to offer hospitality and blessing to others, with the motive and anticipation of our own social or financial gain is short-sighted and misses the purity of the generosity of the Lord. Our good works should, everyone, be motivated by the greater, eternal reward. There is recompense far higher than the earthly benefits of throwing a party for our own temporal advantage.


Gratitude, in Phil. 1:3-11

Warren E. Berkley

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Phil. 1:3-11

One of the attractive attitudes God wants to see in His people is gratitude. It should not be a challenge to nourish, cultivate and express gratitude, when you consider how richly God has blessed us. Especially, when the gift of His Son and the revelation of the gospel is seriously and personally encountered, gratitude should be a natural product of such consideration.

In this passage and its’ historical context, Paul – with each thought of the Christians in Philippi, reacted to those thoughts with gratitude to God. He was thankful to God for the good brothers and sisters he knew in Philippi. The text conveys to us the impression, Paul could not think of these people without saying thanks to God, over and over.

This ought to be real for us. Each time we remember people who serve God and encourage us, those memories should lead us to gratitude. That gratitude can cleanse us of unconstructive memories and temptations to bitterness. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”

This good-memory-gratitude was not a singular thought or an occasional thought. “…always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy,” (v.4). Paul had developed – through Christ – this healthy attitude of thankfulness to God for good people. It was a constant with him. Once this good-memory-gratitude is created within us through the discipline of God’s Word, it becomes a part of us, not just something we do occasionally. It is a pattern. Thoughts of good people cause us to be thankful to God.

In Paul’s experience with the Christians in Philippi, he remembered specific gestures and actions of their kindness toward him. “Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” A friend sticks closer than a brother; relationships that are based on fellowship with God continue to the end. The Christians in Philippi had helped Paul, to the best of their ability, throughout his life’s work. This enriched his joy, strengthened his sense of closeness with them and was the basis for continued, unbroken gratitude toward God. When you find Christians who help you – not just once – but are always there, ready to help and encourage and enrich your life – stop now. Thank God for those folks. And tell them that you thank God for them.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul was certain. He wanted the Christians at Philippi to be certain of this: God doesn’t start something in people that is good, then walk away or just stop! When you obey the gospel, God begins a good work in you. As you continue to live in a manner worthy of the gospel, God continues that work (see Phil. 2:13). As we trust in God and let that trust find expression in obedience, we can say what Paul said: “I am sure!” We have this blessed certainty, that what God started in us when we were baptized – is continued to perfect completion – so long as we live in a manner worthy of the gospel (Phil. 1:27).

Paul’s certainty of faith led him to add: “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” What a good example of a refreshing, peaceful and joyous relationship in God’s family. No matter what happened to Paul, what risk or danger or location, the Christians in Philippi stood by him as they partook with him in the grace of God. It was right for Paul to have these warm feelings about these people, considering the specific interchange of their good relationship. This is one of the reason why Christians should never seek isolation from other Christians. We need each other. We help each other. We encourage one another and foster long term relationships of value, pleasing to the Lord.

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” It was not ordinary, worldly sentimentality. Paul’s attachment to these people was “with the affection of Christ Jesus.” That is to say, Paul’s affections were learned and modeled after the Perfect, Jesus Christ.

What did Paul want for these Christians in Philippi? He wanted their already valuable love, to “abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” When we have true Christian friends, we never want them to stay the same or stagnate! We want them to grow, to abound, to do better and help us do better. Love, as God defines it in His Word, is something within us that is guided by the knowledge and discernment of the Word. I pray this for you and ask that you pray this for me – that we might abound in love, but “with knowledge and all discernment.”

“…so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Everything before this verse (v.10) lead to this. That is to say, gratitude to God for good people; praying that good people become better, etc. – all of this is “so that” we may all be daily approvers of what is morally excellent. Ultimately, “so that” we may be “pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

Where did David take it?

I’m back writing for my blog, perhaps not daily. I took a few days to get caught up. I want to resume posting something here to help me and I hope you.

I’m doing some reading and work in Psalms lately. In this captivating work of divine origin, there is such a balanced variety. There is history, prophecy, vivid portrayals of enemies of God, rich statements of trust, commitment, hope and frustration. Yes. Frustration. You know what I mean. David encountered pain and frustration. The Holy Spirit enabled him to write that. We identify with it.

But where did David take it? When deeply hurt and frustrated, where did David take it?

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress: I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1,2.

I’ll preach on that next Sunday. It must, however, me more for me than just something to preach and for you to read or hear!

Do It Now

Alexander MacLaren > Quotes > Quotable Quote

“No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.”

― Alexander MacLaren

Part 3 – Zeal without Knowledge

(Zeal Without Knowledge Rom. 10:1-3)


Their Condemnation: They were not submitting to God’s righteousness. Strange how people think sometimes. Here are people who believe in God, say they want to obey God and they demonstrate sincerity, zeal and passion for God. But instead of submitting to God’s plan, they come up with their own plan; their own creed; they write their own doctrine! Instead of obeying God, they obey men. Instead of respecting and obeying the Word of God, they respect and obey the doctrines and commandments of men.

This was their condemnation. Instead of submitting to God and participating in the righteousness He offers in Christ, they devised their own religion, with their own rituals and traditions, insisting that everybody submit to their system (see Acts 15:1).

But zeal did not justify their disobedience. Their sincerity and passion did not excuse their ignorance and disobedience.

And I believe there is something very basic here, and this is something that crosses over all dispensational lines and applies to every one of us à We cannot save ourselves by ourselves! We cannot solve our own problem (sin). We cannot perform or work our way out of sin and into heaven, without submitting to God’s plan (Rom. 1:16,17). There are two things we must have – and these two things are not of human origin: (1) The blood of Christ to forgive us, and (2) All the instructions from God about what we must do to have the salvation purchased by that blood! It is essential for us to trust, surrender, believe and obey God, to be personal recipients of His grace in Christ. We cannot save ourselves by ourselves; we need the blood of forgiveness, and we need God’s instruction to guide us to the blood!

Displays of emotion and zeal do not compensate for ignorance or disobedience! Our zeal must be directed by the wisdom of God’s instruction in the gospel.

You see, it is possible to be sincere, zealous and even militant and passionate about God and religion, and yet be wrong . . . and lost! How could this happen? By not submitting to the righteous plan of God.

Finally, I want us to think about the order of things: Knowledge, Submitting to the righteous plan of God, and then Zeal! Knowledge – Submission – Zeal.

If you know what God’s Word says – and you submit to God’s word in your heart and life – your zeal is grounded where it should be!

Contrary to this pattern or order – what often happens in modern religion is this. You become involved with some denomination, or attached to some preacher – – you find your excitement, your emotion and zeal in this. You develop a team spirit and zeal that is human in origin.

The zeal is there, but it is not according to knowledge. If you know what God’s Word says – and you submit to God’s word in your heart and life – your zeal is grounded where it should be!

Our plea to you is not to criticize your zeal, but to ask you to examine the basis of your zeal! Is your zeal according to knowledge?

Part 2 – Zeal without Knowledge

(Zeal Without Knowledge Rom. 10:1-3)

PART 2 – They had zeal but “not according to knowledge.”

They thought that zeal for God meant following all manner of tradition and ritual which God never commanded. Jesus said this about them: “…you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition…in vain [you] worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,” (Matt. 15:6,9).

In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul and without any doubt in our age, there are those who sincerely think they are serving God, but they are acting (though with zeal) against the instructions of God. Paul said, in Acts 26:9, “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Paul had zeal, but he wasn’t acting on correct knowledge.

So in Romans 10, Paul is talking about his countrymen who were lost. They had not obeyed the gospel, according to verse 16. They had zeal, but that emotion and passion was not based on, not directed by a knowledge of the truth of God, imparted in the gospel.

Paul does not deny their zeal. He exposes their ignorance: “for I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”

Now we have considered the context of this passage; the concern of the apostle, and the condition – their zeal without knowledge. Next we ought to think about . . . their condemnation.

Three Part Series, Rom. 10:1-3

Zeal Without Knowledge

Rom. 10:1-3

Three Parts

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Rom. 10:1-3

This was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Rome. To learn what this means and therefore make proper applications, please consider The Context, The Concern, The Condition and the Condemnation.

PART 1 – The Context

The tenth chapter of Romans is part of a section in the book of Romans that begins with chapter nine and ends at the end of chapter eleven. These three chapters deal with a problem both Jews and Gentiles in the church faced. It is a problem that we may not immediately identify with. But it was reality for both Jews and Gentiles who sought common ground in the church, though their background differed significantly. Gentiles struggled with the pride of some Jews who maintained loyalty to their traditionally conceived theocratic status. Jews had lingering questions about the annulling of the Mosaic law, the end of their theocratic status and the inclusion of Gentiles. These three chapters in Romans are concerned with these very real problems and questions in churches established by people obeying the gospel in the first century.

God doesn’t confer salvation on nations, but on individuals who choose to obey Christ, Jew or Gentile. If there are individual Jews who are lost, they are lost because of their own unbelief and disobedience.

The Concern expressed by Paul in this passage is, a concern for the lost; specifically, his Jewish countrymen who had not obeyed the gospel. His desire and prayer was, “that they may be saved.”

This is worthy of note. The tenth chapter of Romans begins the same way as chapter nine. Paul expresses his personal pain and concern for his Jewish countrymen. This was on his mind; this was a heavy weight on his heart. His people were lost! In chapter nine he said: “…I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Then chapter ten begins: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

Paul was bothered by the fact that people were lost! They were not lost because God had rejected every single Jew. They were not lost because God favored Gentiles over Jews. They were not lost because God had cast away His people.

If you want to know why these Jews were lost, stay in chapter ten; look at verse 16 à they had not obeyed the gospel. The problem for all men (Jew and Gentile) is sin. The solution is the gospel of Christ, heard, believed and obeyed. Many of Paul’s own kinsmen “according to the flesh” were lost, because they had not obeyed the gospel. This caused great grief and sorrow for Paul.

Next, consider Their Condition. Let us carefully observe, Paul had no doubt about their sincerity, their emotion and enthusiasm about God! He knew what he was talking about. Because he himself, before obeying the gospel, was extremely zealous.

In his career as a militant, Pharisee and persecutor of the church, he proved himself to have extraordinary zeal for what he believed was right. Galatians 1:14 says, he was “more exceedingly zealous.” In Philippians 3:6, “concerning zeal,” Paul admits his activity “persecuting the church.” And in Acts 22:3, he says that at that time he was “zealous toward God.” Therefore, in writing about lost Jews in Romans 10, Paul expressed no doubt about their sincerity, their emotion, their enthusiasm. He knew their condition, because he had been there.

They had zeal. There was a fervency and passion about their religious beliefs and behavior. Who could claim to teach the Jews anything about zeal! They had it. Paul displayed great zeal in his career as a Pharisee. Paul admits the zeal of Jews who had not obeyed the gospel.

More in next post


Many years ago – a noteworthy French Poet wrote this piece:

“Bring me,” quoth one, “a trowel, quickly, quick!”

   One brings him up a hammer.  “Hew this brick,”

   Another bids; and then they cleave a tree;

  “Make fast this rope,” and then they let it flee.

   One calls for planks, another mortar lacks;

   They bear the first a stone, the last an axe.

   One would have spikes, and him a spade they give;

   Another asks a saw, and gets a sieve.

   Thus crossly crost, they prate and point in vain:

   What one hath made another mars again.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

   These masons then, seeing the storm arrived

   Of God’s just wrath, all weak and heart-deprived,

   Forsake their purpose, and, like frantic fools,

   Scatter their stuff and tumble over their tools.                            

DU BARTAS. – Babylon.