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What does Luke 6:38 mean?

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

what does luke 6:38 mean

What does Luke 6:38 mean?

The meaning of Luke 6:38 is a powerful example that emphasizes the principle of reciprocity. It suggests that one's actions and intentions in giving will ultimately determine what they receive in return. The verse highlights the significance of giving with a genuine heart, indicating that the measure of one's generosity will correspond to the measure of blessings they receive, both in this life and in the spiritual realm. This principle underscores the idea that giving, whether it's time, resources, or acts of kindness, will result in a return that reflects the sincerity of the giver's heart. While the immediate rewards may not always be tangible, the verse assures that the act of giving will be rewarded, echoing the broader themes of discipleship and ethical living conveyed in the context of Luke 6. It encourages a genuine and selfless approach to giving and emphasizes the spiritual blessings that await those who live by these principles.

Check out our comprehensive article with frequently asked questions on tithes and the different types of giving article to learn more.

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.

Is Luke 6:38 misinterpreted?

I would say yes and no. Yes, because there are many ministers and preachers that use this scripture just to get people to tithe more. Some teach that if you tithe more you can actually get rich. This is definitely wrong since Jesus warns people about being rich. It can happen, but it's the exception and not the norm.

I say it's not misinterpreted to those that give with a genuine heart and do not expect anything in return. I personally know that this works and have seen it many times. It surprises me every time though because I am not expecting anything in return.

God is good and just. He knows your heart and your motives. Seek God and His righteousness and everything will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Check out our comprehensive article with frequently asked questions on tithes and the different types of giving article to learn more.

Looking for a place to give? We have 5000 underground churches that have been planted in some of the most remote and persecuted parts of the world. Learn more at the One Way Ministries home page.

More Information on the meaning of Luke 6:38

Summary of Luke Chapter 6

Luke 6 delves into two significant sections, primarily focused on Jesus' teachings and calls to discipleship. The initial segment, Luke 6:1–16, carries forward the themes established in Luke 5. Jesus challenges conventional traditions, notably concerning the observance of the Sabbath, while simultaneously extending his call to the Twelve disciples. The subsequent part, Luke 6:17–49, presents Jesus' teachings on the "level place," also referred to as the "Sermon on the Plain," emphasizing ethical and moral principles for daily living and discipleship. While much of this content is parallel to the teachings in Matthew 5 through 7, the exact correlation between the two accounts remains unclear, suggesting the possibility that Jesus reiterated similar messages in different contexts.

Luke 6:38, within this broader context, embodies the idea that the measure of one's generosity and giving corresponds to the measure of blessings one receives in return. It emphasizes the principle of reciprocity, highlighting the significance of sincere and genuine intentions in one's actions and attitudes. This concept is intricately woven into the broader narrative of discipleship and the ethical teachings of Jesus.

Luke 6:38 Context Summary

In Luke 6:37–42, Jesus concludes his detailed explanation of the expectations for those who choose to be his disciples. His teachings begin with a series of blessings that await his persecuted followers. He also outlines the potential repercussions for those favored by the ungodly world (Luke 6:20–26). Encouraging a radical approach, he urges his followers to demonstrate love towards their enemies through prayer and acts of generosity (Luke 6:27–35). Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of displaying mercy (Luke 6:36) by exercising compassionate judgment and forgiveness. Concluding his address, Jesus calls upon the crowd to cultivate virtuous hearts and to build their lives on the firm foundation of his teachings (Luke 6:43–49). These themes find echoes throughout the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, underscoring the consistency of Jesus' message across different contexts and audiences.

Luke 6:38 in Different Bible Versions

Amplified Bible (AMP):

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.

English Standard Version (ESV):

give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

New International Version (NIV):

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.

New American Standard Bible (NASB):

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB):

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 back to you.

New Living Translation (NLT):

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full — pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

King James Version (KJV):

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

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Jan 14, 2023

I woke at 3:00 am and I heard Luke 6:38 ringing in my mind. I immediately ran to read and research the meaning. Your spiritual commentary shedded the light and more that the Holy Spirit is revealing to me. I am on a 31 days Fast. And GOD is calling for TIME…MORE TIME IN HIS PRESENCE. I never put sowing TIME with GOD is a seed. I just want to OBEY GOD and trust that what He is saying and calling for will be revealed as I go deeper in the fast. Thank you and GOD Bless you.


Jan 13, 2023

Like this explanation


Dec 29, 2022



Dec 21, 2022

Very credible explanation. God bless.


Dec 10, 2022

Thanks for the beautiful explanation. Amen.