“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” – Psalm 33:4.

When Luke 6:38 is talked about, it is most often in the context of money. But it’s a mistake, in my opinion, to think that Jesus is only talking about money in this verse. I believe He is revealing a principle that applies to every area of our lives.

For the purpose of context, it helps to back up and read verses 36 and 37: “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Then, in verse 38, Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you.” Yes, the verse does apply to money, but it also applies to forgiveness, mercy, understanding, and patience. Jesus is simply talking about the broad principle of giving. Whatever you give is going to be given back to you in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

The terms “good measure,” “pressed down,” “shaken together,” and “running over” don’t make a lot of sense the first time you hear them. But they make perfect sense to the people Jesus was talking to in Biblical times.   

According to instructions in the Old Testament, farmers in Israel were to leave the grain in the corners of their fields for the poor. So, each year at harvest time, the poor people worked in the corners collecting the grain in order to feed themselves and their families. The poor people most likely walked some distance to get to the field. They needed to maximize what they brought back to feed their families. They would press it down to create more room, shake it to remove any air and then pour more grain into the basket until it began to spill over the sides. It is one thing to receive a basket of free grain. It is a far better thing to receive a good-measure, pressed-down, shaken-together, and using every inch of space in the basket of free grain.

Jesus used these terms because He wanted to communicate that whatever you give, you’re going to get a lot more of the same in return. If we are critical of others, then it’s likely we will receive criticism. But if we treat others graciously, generously, and compassionately, these qualities will come back to us in full measure.  Jesus used these terms because He wanted to communicate that whatever you give, whatever the “it” is, you’re going to get a lot more of the same in return.

James 3:2 lays out the human condition as clearly and as succinctly as anyone can: “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” Think about the impact of the words “all” and “many.” Some negative is inevitable in most relationships. No one of us is “on our game” every day. The spiritual challenge is to give even when your spouse or other person in the relationship is having a bad day.  Because when we give, we get more back in return.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does give and it will be given you mean to you?
  2. What are some of the things you can give in a relationship?
  3. How can we improve our give versus get ratio this week?