Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 15:1-16:20 / Luke 13:31-14:14 / Psalm 44:1-12
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Electrical workers used this phrase in 1914 in their ongoing battle with management over working conditions and hiring procedures. Today, success and employment opportunities are often determined less on a person’s knowledge and skills than on the network of their personal contacts.
People use their relationships to position themselves for greater financial, social and employment gain. Jesus addresses this type of relational mentality and says, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.” (Luke 14:12)
On the surface, it would seem Jesus was against family gatherings and dinner with friends. Jesus did not say to disassociate or break ties with friends, family or neighbors. The phrase Jesus used, “Do not invite”, actually means, “do not habitually invite.” Jesus wasn’t against meaningful relationships but against exclusive and self-serving relationships.
God is the designer of relationships and establishes them for the purpose of edification and encouragement. Man twists that divine purpose and establishes relationships based upon “what’s in it for me.” Christ’s reference to “rich neighbors” exposes man’s selfish motive. Some are calculating and will befriend others because it will be advantageous for them in some way.
It is sad but there are those in the world who are only interested in reciprocal relationships. They gravitate to the rich and famous, seek the popular and powerful and coddle the egotistical and influential. They establish superficial relationships in order to pursue a self-seeking and self-gaining lifestyle.
Jesus said relationships are not to focus on “taking or gaining” but to be rooted in “giving” without any motive of selfish gain. “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (vs.13,14) When we reach out to the unfortunate, needy and battered; God takes notice! When we enlarge our connections to include those who the world dismisses and rejects; eternal rewards await us!
God brings people in our lives that have the ability to be a great blessing. He also brings people in our lives where we can be their great blessing. We should never misuse or manipulate people for our gain. Remember, the greatest “who you know” is the author of life and the greatest “what you know” is God’s design for your relationships. God’s divine purpose for our relationships…has eternal rewards!