1. This love gives up its right to get even or get revenge; it forgives all for everything; it treats people not as they deserve, but as we want to be treated and as God has treated us.
a. This love is not a feeling. It is an action based on a decision you make about how you are going to treat someone.
b. As branches of the Vine, as new creatures, the potential is there for you to love like this. Rom 5:5; John 15:5; Gal 5:22
2. This love “thinks” rather than “feels” or “reacts”.
a. When you interact with people, you must become aware of, think about:
1. Why are you saying / doing what you are doing — your good or theirs? 2. How would you want to be treated in that situation?
3. Their perception of the situation and their problems are just as real and valid to them as yours is to you — right or wrong.
b. Then you must decide to treat them as God tells you to treat them.
3. We can learn general principles from the Bible which the Holy Spirit will specifically apply.
4. We could say the Bible gives us one great positive and one great negative as far as how to treat people.
a. Positive = Treat people the way you want to be treated. Matt 7:12
b. Negative = Don’t return evil for evil. Rom 12:17; I Thess 5:15
5. In this lesson we want to deal with some things Jesus said about love in the Sermon on the Mount which raise questions for Christians. Matt 5:38-48
a. Do I have to be a door mat? Should I let someone beat me up?
b. Is it wrong to have police, soldiers, or to fight for your country?
c. If someone asks me for $5.00 should I give him $10.00?
d. If someone sues me for $10,000 should I give him $20,000?
e. If someone asks for all my money should I give it to them? Even if I know they are going to misuse what I give them?
1. One of the main things Jesus is doing in the Sermon on the Mount is telling the people that their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. Matt 5:20
2. So, His remarks must be read in that light — the Pharisees and what they did and said contrasted with what God really wants from us.
3. Jesus is not setting up a list of strange rules for Christians to follow, or a new law, or a code of ethics.
a. It is not a list of dos and donts, but rather it is an illustration of the spirit behind the Law. Matt 5:18
b. The Pharisees had established rules and regulations and had missed the whole point of the Law. Matt 23:23-28
4. One of the things Jesus has been going up to this point is illustrating how the Pharisees had misinterpreted and perverted the Law.
a. You have heard it said = the Pharisees say. v21,27,33,38,43
b. Each time Jesus corrected their misinterpretation of the Law of Moses by illustrating the spirit behind the Law = what God really wants.
5. God’s main purpose was and is to turn man from focus on self to God.
a. Man’s problem is that he is self focused and Jesus came to change that. Isa 53:6; II Cor 5:15; I Cor 6:19,20
b. Focus on self was responsible for the fall of the human race.
c. satan attacked God’s character, but he also drew Adam and Even to self — you’ve been treated unfairly. Gen 3:4,5
d. Followers of Christ are to deny self, no longer live for self. Matt 16:24
6. In v39-42 Jesus is dealing with attitudes toward self.
1. The statement an eye for an eye was given in the Law of Moses to control excess. Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21
a. Human tendency = you hurt me, I’ll kill you. The Law was meant to restrain that impulse in people. The punishment must fit the crime.
b. You don’t have to have an eye for every eye — just don’t exceed it.
c. The instruction was meant for judges, not for individuals. But, the Pharisees used it as a personal application = I get to take an eye for an eye.
d. Jesus is not talking about capital punishment — He is dealing with how individuals treat each other.
2. v39–Jesus then explains how God wants His people to respond when hurt or injured. Turn the other cheek means give us the desire for revenge.
a. “Do not repel one outrage by another.” Adam Clarke
b. Jesus is not setting up a new rule = be a door mat; let people beat you up. He is illustrating the spirit behind the law. Don’t get revenge.
c. I Cor 13:5–It (love) is not conceited — arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love [God’s love in us] does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self – seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it — pays no attention to a suffered wrong. (Amp)
d. Yes, but who will see that justice is done if I don’t punish this wrong doer? God will, out of perfect love, justice, and the facts. Rom 12:19-21
3. v40–Jesus isn’t making a rule if someone asks for clothes you give all you have.
a. According to Jewish law, a man could not be sued for his outer coat, but he could for an inner one. But, Jesus said if a man wants one, give both.
b. Jesus isn’t making a rule, He is illustrating a principle. How do we know? Such a rule would be ridiculous. If our interpretation of the Bible is ridiculous, it isn’t right. God is not ridiculous.
c. We have a tendency to insist on our rights = you can’t do that to me. That puts focus on self.
d. Jesus says take the focus off of you and your rights by letting it go.
e. I Cor 6:7–To have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you as Christians Why not just accept mistreatment and leave it at that? It would be far more honoring to the Lord to let yourselves by cheated. (Living)
f. Who will defend my rights and take care of me if I am cheated? The God of Jacob will. Laban cheated Jacob (tried to), but God protected Jacob and restored to him what he lost. Gen 31:4-13;41,42
4. v41–Jesus is not making a rule that you have to do twice as much as you are asked to do. He’s illustrating a principle, the spirit behind the example.
a. In the ancient world, the government had the right to commandeer people. b. By telling us to go the second mile Jesus is telling us His people are to do their duty cheerfully, heartily, without complaining.
c. Col 3:23–Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters. (Living)
d. We are to have a servant’s heart — just like Jesus. Matt 20:28; Phil 2:5-7
e. Gal 5:13– For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. (Living)
f. Phil 2:3,4–Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. (Living)
5. v42–Jesus is not making a rule that you have to give all to anyone who asks.
a. He is dealing with those who are selfish and want to hold on to their own
1. Pharisees (the “righteous ones”) were self focused. Mark 12:38-44 2. In the parable of the good Samaritan, it was the religious, “righteous” people who refused to help the man in need. Luke 10:31,32
b. Human tendency is to put self first and not help those in real need whom we can truly help. A Christian gives if he can. I John 3:16,17
c. God’s love gives for the good of the one in need.
6. The point or theme in these passages is: where is your focus, what is your response when a demand is made on self? What is your attitude toward self?
a. Is it to protect self, save self, avenge self?
b. Or is it to love (obey) God and love your neighbor as yourself?
c. Jesus is turning us away from self toward others.
7. The greatest commandments are love God and love your neighbor. The Law and the prophets are summed up in those two points. Matt 22:37-40
a. It has always been about love — that is the spirit (meaning) behind the commandments and rules. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18
b. In the NT, God doesn’t give a list of rules and regulations, He puts His love in us and tells us to love God and each other and thereby fulfill the Law = the spirit of the Law. Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14
c. This new law, the law of love fulfills all the old law, the royal law. I John 2:7; James 2:8
1. To the Pharisees, neighbor meant only a Jew.
a. They taught it was a right, almost a duty, to hate non-Jews.
b. Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies and then tells us how. v44
2. v45–You will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. (Living)
a. Jesus has not set up a list of impossible rules — He is telling us how to act like God, how to demonstrate our Father.
b. That is the point!! We were created and recreated to be sons of God conformed to the image of Christ. Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29; John 14:9
c. Matt 5:16–Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble and good deeds, and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Amp)
3. v45–Jesus then explains that God the Father acts the way Jesus has just told His followers to act. God gives rain and sun to the evil and the good.
a. In other words, He does not deal with them based on who they are, what they deserve, or what they have done to Him.
b. His love nature moves Him to be kind and merciful to all. Luke 6:35,36
1. Kind = having the will to do good and bring happiness to others.
2. Merciful = show mercy = kindness and compassion that withholds punishment when it is due.
c. We are to love people the way God loved us.
1. God treats us on the basis of who He is and what He has done, not on the basis of us and what we have done.
2. God’s concern is not what men have done to Him but what He can do for them.
4. The way we treat people is one of the ways we show God to others.
a. v46,47–If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? (Living)
b. v47–If you salute your friends, what is special about that? (Moffatt)
c. Is there something about you and the way you treat people that we would not find in the best unbeliever?
5. Jesus then sums up what He has been saying about how to treat other people.
a. v48–You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect [that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity]. (Amp)
b. Do you resemble your Father in the way you treat people?
1. God doesn’t tell us these things about loving others to hurt us, harm us, restrict us, or make it hard for us. He tells us these things because He want us to fulfill our created purpose, our destiny.
2. God wants you to take the focus off of you and put it on Him — the source of all joy, peace, and meaning. From there, He wants you to look at others.
3. Ask Him to show you areas where you are self focused so you can correct them.
4. Become aware of how and why you treat people the way you do and begin to put into practice what we are learning.
a. Don’t retaliate, get back, or get even.
b. Think in terms of how you can be a blessing to people — what would help you most, what would you want in their situation.
c. Don’t treat people based on your mood (how you feel), treat them the way God treats people.
5. Let this be your goal — be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven.