Lesson: The New Value System


Love Your Enemies (Luke 6:27-38)

Jesus said, "Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for the happiness of those who curse you; implore God's blessing on those who hurt you.
"If someone slaps you on one cheek, let him slap the other too!  If someone demands your coat, give him your shirt besides.  Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don't worry about getting them back.  Treat others as you want them to treat you.
"Do you think you deserve credit for merely loving those who love you?  Even the godless do that!  And if you do good only to those who do you good -- is that so special?  Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that?  Even the most wicked will lend to their own kind for full return!
"Love your enemies!  Do good to them!  Lend to them!  And don't be concerned about the fact that they won't repay.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as sons of God: for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are very wicked.
"Try to show as much compassion as your Heavenly Father does.
"Never criticize or condemn -- or it will all come back on you.  Go easy on others; then they will do the same for you.  For if you give, you will get!  Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.  Whatever measure you use to give -- large or small -- will be used to measure what is given back to you."

Note to teacher:

This is a passage that can take weeks to go through.  There are lots of room for debates and practical applications.  The objective of this lesson, however, is to focus on the difference between the world's moral system and the value system Jesus introduced into the world.

The Three Value Systems

World's legal system
- Don't do these bad things...
- If you do, you'll get these punishments
== dictating what NOT to do, with the goal of preventing people from hurting each other excessively --> reactive, prohibitive

The Ten Commandments
- Three main parts:
  * Love God & do these things
  * Honor your parents & you'll be blessed
  * Don't do these bad things...
== advises action/attitude toward God & family --> pro-active
== still dictating what NOT to do, but now covering actions that are not directly harmful (e.g., do not covet your neighbor's wife) --> reactive, prohibitive, and a bit preventive (e.g., lust leads to sin, and so don't lust)

Jesus' New Value System
- Love God
- Love people, even your enemies
== no need to mention what NOT to do, for when you love people, you will not harm them or sin against them mentally --> pro-active and philanthropic

Compare the Confucian Golden Rule and Jesus' Golden Rule:
Confucius: Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you -- avoiding injury  --> what I call a "Do No Harm" system; a passive system
Jesus: Treat others as you want them to treat you -- promote active engagement to love others --> an active system

What's wrong with a "Do No Harm" value system?  The world would be a horrible place if that's all the value we aspire to, consider:
- kids dying of hunger in Africa:
     "Do No Harm" system: Do nothing. You didn't cause their famine and there's no rule saying you must feed them.
     Jesus' value system: Help them.
- a stranger falls on the street and is seriously injured:
     "Do No Harm" system: Do nothing.  You didn't harm him and you are not going to hurt him by kicking him.  There's no rule that says you must call the ambulance.
     Jesus' value system:  Check it out and call ambulance.

Pay It Forward (based on the movie Pay It Forward)

In Pay It Forward, the kid came up with the idea that instead of paying back someone for good deeds done unto him, the beneficiary should pay it forward to three other persons, and when that chain reaction is continued, it can reach more and more people each time it gets passed on.  Just how fast can this spread?  Here's a quick calculation:

Pay foward to 3 people, everyone follows the lead:
Level   No. of beneficiary   Total no. of
           at that level     beneficiaries
                           since the beginning

1:                3                3
2:                9               12
3:               27               39
4:               81              120
5:              243              363
6:              729            1,092
7:            2,187            3,279
8:            6,561            9,840
9:           19,683           29,523
10:          59,049           88,572
11:         177,147          265,719
12:         531,441          797,160
13:       1,594,323        2,391,483
14:       4,782,969        7,174,452
15:      14,348,907       21,523,359
16:      43,046,721       64,570,080
17:     129,140,163      193,710,243
18:     387,420,489      581,130,732
19:   1,162,261,467    1,743,392,199
20:   3,486,784,401    5,230,176,600
21:  10,460,353,203   15,690,529,803

Think of it this way: if all the beneficiaries are people who have never been touched by this scheme before, by level 21 you would have reached everyone on the planet twice over!

Of course, not everyone will follow.  This is what happens when only two people follow the lead:

Level   No. of beneficiary   Total no. of
           at that level     beneficiaries
                           since the beginning

1                3                 3
2                6                 9
3               12                21
4               24                45
5               48                93
6               96               189
7              192               381
8              384               765
9              768             1,533
10           1,536             3,069
11           3,072             6,141
12           6,144            12,285
13          12,288            24,573
14          24,576            49,149
15          49,152            98,301
16          98,304           196,605
17         196,608           393,213
18         393,216           786,429
19         786,432         1,572,861
20       1,572,864         3,145,725
21       3,145,728         6,291,453

Much smaller but still very significant.  That's a lot of good deeds just from each person doing three good deeds.  Kids will be amazed at what they can do once they see this demonstration.

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 8/6/2002