Updated: Feb 2
What does Luke 6:38 mean?
Luke 6:38 means that you will reap what you sow, both here on Earth and in Heaven, but only with a sincere heart. You will be rewarded for the good things you do with your time, money, resources, actions, and the words you speak. The reward may or may not be on earth, but for sure in heaven.
Luke 6:38 Explained
In order to understand what Luke 6:38 means and if it's misinterpreted you have to look at what the general context of the writing is. Jesus just came from spending the night praying to God. In the morning He went to a high place and began speaking to a large crowd of His disciples. There was also a bunch of people from different cities that wanted to be healed and to hear Him speak, who were not His disciples.
Now that we have the scene painted and know who the audience is, we can dive in to the preface of what Luke 6:38 means. Looking back to verse 20 through 22, we see that Jesus was speaking to His disciples. He told them they were blessed because of the various hardships they were facing.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
In verse 23 we can see how they will be blessed. They will have a great reward in heaven. He doesn't say they will be blessed on Earth. He only talks about heaven, so we can conclude that these will be "spiritual" blessings.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Looking at verse 24 through 26 we can deduce that He turns away from speaking to His disciples and speaks to the rest of the crowd. It's almost the direct opposite of how He just described His disciples. He explains that their "worldly blessings" are actually negative things.
The word "woe" is an exclamation of grief, disappointment, and a warning. Jesus uses this word in front of each sentence regarding being rich, well fed, and likable. Most people view being rich, well fed, and being liked as a good thing. Jesus is warning everyone that these things seem good now, but will be bad for them in the future.
You may be thinking thanks for the info, but what does Luke 6:38 mean? Based on the pattern we are seeing we can almost deduce the meaning behind it, but we need to look at a few more scriptures before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Here in verses 27 to 31 Jesus talks again about doing the opposite of what "worldly wisdom" would tell you. Love those who hate you, let people slap and rob you, etc. Jesus must have sounded like a crazy person to a lot of people. All these things would cause harm to a person, but Jesus said to let them happen to you. He doesn't give any clues here to what benefit you gain from enduring these things, so let's move on to the next paragraph.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: 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 one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Here we can see some benefit to the strange things Jesus was saying. Verse 35 says that God will reward you greatly and we will be His children. It says God is kind to the wicked so we should be too. He wants us to do what He does and be merciful as He is. We can catch a glimpse of at least one reward He will give, which is mercy. All of us sin, so we can see here that He will give us mercy, but we still don't know if it will be here on Earth or if it's in heaven. Let's read on...
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Jesus then goes on to say that if we don't judge, we won't be judged. If we forgive others, we will be forgiven. He is taking about sowing and reaping. If you sow a seed of corn, you will reap corn. If you sow forgiveness you will reap forgiveness.
If we give, it will be given to us. He isn't specific, but if we give money, we should get money back. If we give time, we should get time back, etc. We can deduce we will get these exact things back because of how specific He was with the previous three things. If we do one thing we will get the exact thing in return. But based on the previous statements written by Him, most if not all of our rewards will be found in heaven.
It isn't fully clear whether He is talking about worldly and spiritual things or just spiritual things, but He is really specific about what we will get when we sow. We can conclude that if we sow forgiveness, we will get forgiveness, so theoretically if we sow money, we should get money, etc.
He really wanted to emphasize that we should give, because He elaborates on how much we will get back when we do give. He says we will get the exact same measure back and a good measure that will be pouring over.
Does this mean that if we give $10 we will get $100 back? Maybe. How about if you give $10,000, will you get $1 million back? Maybe, but most likely not, since He was just giving woes in verse 24-26 to those who are rich, well fed, and well liked.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
You shouldn't give money or anything just to get it back. Jesus wasn't giving investing advice for people to get wealthy. He was simply saying you will be treated the way you treat others. Based on this chapter, we might not actually reap everything that we sow in this life. Jesus did start out by saying that if we suffer now, we will reap rewards, but only later and in heaven.
Jesus promises us persecution and hard times when we follow Him, so why should we think that we will actually get money if we sow money? God is God and He can do as He wants. 1 Samuel 2:7 says "The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts." He is in control.
I believe that we can and do reap what we sow here on Earth, but when it doesn't happen, we shouldn't get upset at God because of it. I know from many personal experiences that God does give when we give.
My wife and I were in Israel doing some teaching. We both felt led to give the pastor some money. I don't remember the exact amount, but I wanted to give about $500 and my wife felt like we should give $1000. We went with what she heard and gave $1000. When we came home there was a check waiting for us that totaled just over what we gave. It was from an insurance company that said we had overpaid on a car we had 3 years back and they just found the mistake.
One other testimony of this is when we gave $500 to a needy person. We got a check in the mail a few days later from my mom for $800. She owed us $300, so I called her up and told her she paid too much. She said she wrote the check and saw the mistake, but felt like we should have the rest anyway. She had no idea we just gave $500 away!
We have many testimonies like this and know many people that have similar ones as well.