Can you be generous with those who oppress you?
Think about it. Luke 7 opens with a Roman centurion. A centurion was a commander in the Roman army. His responsibility was to keep order among the Jews, to quell uprisings. The Jews paid their taxes to Rome. To the Jews, the Romans represented an unwanted authority—oppressors.
But this centurion is desperate. His servant is ill, his beloved servant. As the servant nears his end, and the centurion reaches out to their last hope—Jesus. His appeal comes with a preface: “I’m a good guy; I helped build your synagogue.”
Why does he make that preface?
The centurion realizes that Jesus may not want to come and help an oppressor. In fact, Jesus has every reason not to go and help the Romans and what they stand for.
But that’s the thing about generosity. It cuts across race, ethnicity, and culture. In fact, we see no hesitation on the part of Jesus. He goes, and the servant is healed.
There’s a bit of a sidelight of course. While he’s going, the centurion says, “Look you don’t need to come into my house [and thus defile yourself]. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus is astonished by such faith, and he lets the crowd know it.
Here’s the punchline: generosity is like faith—it’s found in a select few, but sends profound impact to the many.
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Published October 27, 2016