Matthew 6:25-34

Sermon on the Mount        Matthew 6:19-24
Prayer
Intro
What do you think about most of the time?  What is most important to you?  On what do you spend most of your money?  Who do you think about most of the time?  Who is most important to you?  On whom do you spend most of your money?  What or who, if lost or destroyed in some way, would lead you to feeling life is not worth living?

I believe this passage today is really not complicated to understand in theory.  But it is more difficult to understand how it works in every day life.  We may know the answer to all the questions I asked earlier.  The answer is Jesus and a personal relationship with God.  But how does this really work?  Lets try to answer this last question.

But before we get practical, lets make sure we understand the principles Jesus was teaching.  To do so we need to look deeper into a few words and ideas verse by verse.

19“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Jesus didn’t say we can’t collect or save money, or baseball cards, or clothes and shoes, or toys, cute little souvenirs, or even memories and experiences.  But all of these things are on earth.  These are truly the earthly thing Jesus is describing are not to be our treasures.  These are all items that moths and rust can destroy and thieves can steal.

Think for a few moments.  What are the things on earth that you collect or save?  These are things that are probably very important to you for one or many reasons.

Unless you collect or save bad things, Jesus is not saying any of these things are bad to collect or save.  If you collect “bad” pictures, stolen items, slaves, or weapons of mass destruction then you have a big problem and you are collecting truly evil things.  But if you collect figurines, stuffed animals, books, watches, old pictures, or even rocks and hello kitty items then you may not have a problem.

But Jesus taught that if these are your treasures, then you have a problem.  These treasures are not just things that make you happy, a hobby that brings you pleasure, or items that remind you of special places or experiences.  Treasures are those things that you depend on for your happiness, pleasure, or sense of value.
20But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
Our treasures are only to be collected in heaven.  The idea of collected is literally the idea of getting as many of these treasures as possible and keeping them in a safe place.

Jesus taught that what we most rely upon or depend upon for our happiness, pleasure, or sense of value can only come from heaven.
21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Because what we treasure are those things and people that are most important to us.  Many things in our lives are important, but few things are truly in our hearts by Jesus definition.  To Jesus and the Jewish culture, the heart is not only what pumps our blood.  The heart represents our being, it defines what we can not live without, our identity, who we truly are.

What or who we most rely or depend upon is our treasure and our heart is connected to our treasure.

(An interesting fact, the word heart is used over 800 times in the whole Bible and yet not one time is it describing the organ that pumps our blood.  It is always used in the Bible to describe a spiritual principle.)
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.   23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness  —  how deep is that darkness!
At first it is not easy to connect the earlier verses with these next two.  But there is a logical connection.  For now we are just trying to understand what Jesus is teaching and not yet how it works practically.

We don’t have time to explore all the details of these two verse, but here are a few.

Jesus already taught the disciples to remove their right eye if it is leading them to sin.  And Jesus will soon teach more about specks and eyes in chapter 7.

When we think of lamps we think of what shines out to spread light.  What Jesus seems to be teaching is how this is a two way principle.  An eye with a single clear focus receives the light and the body is filled.  This same kind of an eye also shines the light that is from within.

This seems to fit well with Jesus later teaches that “out of the heart the mouth speaks”  Matthew 15:18.  Our treasures indicate what is in our heart, our being.  Our heart is full of something as our being, our treasure.  So is our treasure light, or dark?

Jesus taught a totally new idea with these verses.  The eye or eyes are often talked about in the Bible, about 400 times, but not as Jesus is describing in these verses.

“If your eye is good, healthy, generous, single (KJV)”.  The word Jesus used to describe this kind of eye is based on the word meaning – being unfolded.  Theologians and translators believe this was how they described how something had a single focus or was clear.

So an eye that is good has one single clear focus.  Jesus may have had Proverbs 4:25 in mind when He taught this principle?  Proverbs 4 25Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.

Bad eyes are based on the idea of “pain-ridden”.  Being “pain-ridden” in the Bible is nearly always related to bad or evil.  And bad and evil are characterized by darkness.  Proverbs 17 24Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.

24“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Now what do slaves and masters have to do with eyes and treasures?  I am glad you asked.  But we don’t have time to answer all our questions so here are a few important details before we bring this all together and make it practical.

Jesus taught this is just how things work, how God made things.  “no one can be”, this is based on not having enough power or ability, it is the same word from which we get dynamite.

Love in this verse is God’s love, agape.  This is sacrificial love, the love that is given freely as God did to us through Salvation.  Hate is not necessarily what we commonly think.  Hate in the Bible is often a word based on comparing one thing or person to another also found in Luke 14:26,27.  Hate can mean that we love one thing less than another.

Lets try to act this out for a few minutes.

Last is this word money, you may have heard in the past this is the word mammon, and it is.  This word is nearly always translated as money as it should be.  But not all money is mammon because this word is based on the root word trust.  Literally our treasure is our mammon when it is things on this earth.  Money that we depend upon to make us happy, bring us pleasure, or define our identity will be our treasure, our mammon.  When our treasure is stolen or disappears our life collapses.

But when our treasure is in heaven, there is no possibility that our lives will collapse.  As a mater of fact, our lives will never end if our treasures are in heaven.

19“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness  —  how deep is that darkness!
24“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Application
Ok, lets put this together and make is practical.

What or who are your treasures?  I hope you have a pretty good idea what treasures are earthly treasures.  If you don’t then I strongly suggest you read Galatians 5:16-21 later today and call me or someone else who can help you this week.

The following are ways I believe we can collect treasures in heaven, lets call them Heavenly Life Disciplines.  There are many more, but here are some ideas.

Heavenly Life Disciplines
Salvation                Orienting the eye
It all starts with a personal relationship with God through Jesus.  If you have never repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus then you need to start here.  Please come and see me after the service or ask someone else you know who can lead you to follow Jesus.
Love God with everything
Prayer                Reorienting the eye constantly   (1 Thess. 5:17)
Personal Bible Study    Focusing the eye
Obeying God’s will        God’s slave
Love people by serving
Obeying God’s will        God’s slave

References: Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 25:31-46.

I believe heavenly treasures are collected as we grow in our relationship with God and when we obey His will.  John 14:14  “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.
1 John 5: 1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God,a and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. 2This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. 3For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

If we will focus our eyes on God through Jesus and serve people, we will be building treasures in heaven.  Serving people both in their physical and spiritual needs.  See James 2.

How this works in daily life.
Starting right        being filled, power source
Prayer and Bible study
Seeking God’s will at all times
People        putting others needs first     Philippians 2:4
Decisions        Yes and No
Representing the Kingdom of God well
This all come from our being.

Is there anything that is holding you back from serving God totally?  Are there treasures you have on earth that keep you from gathering treasures in heaven?

I have many things that I continue to try to give totally to God.  These are things in my life that are too much like treasures in my heart.  They are not necessarily bad things if I let God have control of them.

Starting Monday I tried to identify my treasures.  I found this wasn’t as easy an experience as I had expected.  It was difficult to not try to answer what I knew was supposed to be true.  It took prayer and honest searching to find the danger areas in my heart.

One is pride as the pastor of a successful new church.  This is partially true as I realize my worth as a missionary is too dependent on being successful in the eyes of the world.  I like too much to eat.  I also like to rest.  Ok, I like being a bit lazy.  I like not being busy all the time and like doing things I want to do and sometimes not what maters most.  I also want people think I am a great man and spiritual leader.  Back to another area of pride I guess.  I want people to think I can do nearly anything and everything well including that I am an insightful spiritual leader.

I did find two treasures I am proud of, but I realize I deserve no credit for either treasure.

The first is a treasure that I too often fail to value as God expects, is the gift of Denise.  She is truly a heavenly treasure that I both don’t deserve or treasure enough.

The second treasure is also a gift.  This gift was given to me by my Father.  It was a gift I did not deserve.  It is a gift that I can never give back, give away, or loose.  It is the gift of salvation because of my Father’s Grace.

Pray

Psalm 25 12Who is the man who fears the LORD?  He will show him the way he should choose.  13He will live a good life, and his descendants will inherit the land.  14The secret counsel of the LORD
is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.  15My eyes are always on the LORD, for He will pull my feet out of the net.
Psalm 123 1I lift my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven.  2Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the LORD our God until He shows us favor.

Matthew 6:19-24

Sermon on the Mount        Matthew 6:19-24
Prayer
Intro
What do you think about most of the time?  What is most important to you?  On what do you spend most of your money?  Who do you think about most of the time?  Who is most important to you?  On whom do you spend most of your money?  What or who, if lost or destroyed in some way, would lead you to feeling life is not worth living?

I believe this passage today is really not complicated to understand in theory.  But it is more difficult to understand how it works in every day life.  We may know the answer to all the questions I asked earlier.  The answer is Jesus and a personal relationship with God.  But how does this really work?  Lets try to answer this last question.

But before we get practical, lets make sure we understand the principles Jesus was teaching.  To do so we need to look deeper into a few words and ideas verse by verse.

19“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Jesus didn’t say we can’t collect or save money, or baseball cards, or clothes and shoes, or toys, cute little souvenirs, or even memories and experiences.  But all of these things are on earth.  These are truly the earthly thing Jesus is describing are not to be our treasures.  These are all items that moths and rust can destroy and thieves can steal.

Think for a few moments.  What are the things on earth that you collect or save?  These are things that are probably very important to you for one or many reasons.

Unless you collect or save bad things, Jesus is not saying any of these things are bad to collect or save.  If you collect “bad” pictures, stolen items, slaves, or weapons of mass destruction then you have a big problem and you are collecting truly evil things.  But if you collect figurines, stuffed animals, books, watches, old pictures, or even rocks and hello kitty items then you may not have a problem.

But Jesus taught that if these are your treasures, then you have a problem.  These treasures are not just things that make you happy, a hobby that brings you pleasure, or items that remind you of special places or experiences.  Treasures are those things that you depend on for your happiness, pleasure, or sense of value.
20But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
Our treasures are only to be collected in heaven.  The idea of collected is literally the idea of getting as many of these treasures as possible and keeping them in a safe place.

Jesus taught that what we most rely upon or depend upon for our happiness, pleasure, or sense of value can only come from heaven.
21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Because what we treasure are those things and people that are most important to us.  Many things in our lives are important, but few things are truly in our hearts by Jesus definition.  To Jesus and the Jewish culture, the heart is not only what pumps our blood.  The heart represents our being, it defines what we can not live without, our identity, who we truly are.

What or who we most rely or depend upon is our treasure and our heart is connected to our treasure.

(An interesting fact, the word heart is used over 800 times in the whole Bible and yet not one time is it describing the organ that pumps our blood.  It is always used in the Bible to describe a spiritual principle.)
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.   23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness  —  how deep is that darkness!
At first it is not easy to connect the earlier verses with these next two.  But there is a logical connection.  For now we are just trying to understand what Jesus is teaching and not yet how it works practically.

We don’t have time to explore all the details of these two verse, but here are a few.

Jesus already taught the disciples to remove their right eye if it is leading them to sin.  And Jesus will soon teach more about specks and eyes in chapter 7.

When we think of lamps we think of what shines out to spread light.  What Jesus seems to be teaching is how this is a two way principle.  An eye with a single clear focus receives the light and the body is filled.  This same kind of an eye also shines the light that is from within.

This seems to fit well with Jesus later teaches that “out of the heart the mouth speaks”  Matthew 15:18.  Our treasures indicate what is in our heart, our being.  Our heart is full of something as our being, our treasure.  So is our treasure light, or dark?

Jesus taught a totally new idea with these verses.  The eye or eyes are often talked about in the Bible, about 400 times, but not as Jesus is describing in these verses.

“If your eye is good, healthy, generous, single (KJV)”.  The word Jesus used to describe this kind of eye is based on the word meaning – being unfolded.  Theologians and translators believe this was how they described how something had a single focus or was clear.

So an eye that is good has one single clear focus.  Jesus may have had Proverbs 4:25 in mind when He taught this principle?  Proverbs 4 25Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.

Bad eyes are based on the idea of “pain-ridden”.  Being “pain-ridden” in the Bible is nearly always related to bad or evil.  And bad and evil are characterized by darkness.  Proverbs 17 24Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.

24“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Now what do slaves and masters have to do with eyes and treasures?  I am glad you asked.  But we don’t have time to answer all our questions so here are a few important details before we bring this all together and make it practical.

Jesus taught this is just how things work, how God made things.  “no one can be”, this is based on not having enough power or ability, it is the same word from which we get dynamite.

Love in this verse is God’s love, agape.  This is sacrificial love, the love that is given freely as God did to us through Salvation.  Hate is not necessarily what we commonly think.  Hate in the Bible is often a word based on comparing one thing or person to another also found in Luke 14:26,27.  Hate can mean that we love one thing less than another.

Lets try to act this out for a few minutes.

Last is this word money, you may have heard in the past this is the word mammon, and it is.  This word is nearly always translated as money as it should be.  But not all money is mammon because this word is based on the root word trust.  Literally our treasure is our mammon when it is things on this earth.  Money that we depend upon to make us happy, bring us pleasure, or define our identity will be our treasure, our mammon.  When our treasure is stolen or disappears our life collapses.

But when our treasure is in heaven, there is no possibility that our lives will collapse.  As a mater of fact, our lives will never end if our treasures are in heaven.

19“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness  —  how deep is that darkness!
24“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Application
Ok, lets put this together and make is practical.

What or who are your treasures?  I hope you have a pretty good idea what treasures are earthly treasures.  If you don’t then I strongly suggest you read Galatians 5:16-21 later today and call me or someone else who can help you this week.

The following are ways I believe we can collect treasures in heaven, lets call them Heavenly Life Disciplines.  There are many more, but here are some ideas.

Heavenly Life Disciplines
Salvation                Orienting the eye
It all starts with a personal relationship with God through Jesus.  If you have never repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus then you need to start here.  Please come and see me after the service or ask someone else you know who can lead you to follow Jesus.
Love God with everything
Prayer                Reorienting the eye constantly   (1 Thess. 5:17)
Personal Bible Study    Focusing the eye
Obeying God’s will        God’s slave
Love people by serving
Obeying God’s will        God’s slave

References: Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 25:31-46.

I believe heavenly treasures are collected as we grow in our relationship with God and when we obey His will.  John 14:14  “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.
1 John 5: 1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God,a and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. 2This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. 3For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

If we will focus our eyes on God through Jesus and serve people, we will be building treasures in heaven.  Serving people both in their physical and spiritual needs.  See James 2.

How this works in daily life.
Starting right        being filled, power source
Prayer and Bible study
Seeking God’s will at all times
People        putting others needs first     Philippians 2:4
Decisions        Yes and No
Representing the Kingdom of God well
This all come from our being.

Is there anything that is holding you back from serving God totally?  Are there treasures you have on earth that keep you from gathering treasures in heaven?

I have many things that I continue to try to give totally to God.  These are things in my life that are too much like treasures in my heart.  They are not necessarily bad things if I let God have control of them.

Starting Monday I tried to identify my treasures.  I found this wasn’t as easy an experience as I had expected.  It was difficult to not try to answer what I knew was supposed to be true.  It took prayer and honest searching to find the danger areas in my heart.

One is pride as the pastor of a successful new church.  This is partially true as I realize my worth as a missionary is too dependent on being successful in the eyes of the world.  I like too much to eat.  I also like to rest.  Ok, I like being a bit lazy.  I like not being busy all the time and like doing things I want to do and sometimes not what maters most.  I also want people think I am a great man and spiritual leader.  Back to another area of pride I guess.  I want people to think I can do nearly anything and everything well including that I am an insightful spiritual leader.

I did find two treasures I am proud of, but I realize I deserve no credit for either treasure.

The first is a treasure that I too often fail to value as God expects, is the gift of Denise.  She is truly a heavenly treasure that I both don’t deserve or treasure enough.

The second treasure is also a gift.  This gift was given to me by my Father.  It was a gift I did not deserve.  It is a gift that I can never give back, give away, or loose.  It is the gift of salvation because of my Father’s Grace.

Pray

Psalm 25 12Who is the man who fears the LORD?  He will show him the way he should choose.  13He will live a good life, and his descendants will inherit the land.  14The secret counsel of the LORD
is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.  15My eyes are always on the LORD, for He will pull my feet out of the net.
Psalm 123 1I lift my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven.  2Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand, like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the LORD our God until He shows us favor.

Matthew 6:5-8

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 6:5-8

Pray
Read

Introduction
Jesus has shifted in chapter 6 to some very practical issues related to righteousness and who we are to be as God’s children.  Last week giving to the poor, this week and next teaching about prayer.  In all there are six major themes.

It has been a long time since I commented why we are studying the Sermon on the Mount.  After praying for a while I went back to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20.  We had just baptized Rafal and Chelsea so we had done the first of the two elements of making disciples.  The second element is to “teach them to obey all that I (Jesus) have commanded you”.
It just made sense to start studying what Jesus taught or commanded by starting in the beginning.  So, here we are, studying to understand what Jesus commanded or taught in the Sermon on the Mount.  I encourage you strongly to keep in mind what Jesus teaches at the end of the Sermon.  Chapter 7: 24“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock..
Jesus made is clear that He expected the original listeners to “act on what He taught them”.  Jesus is teaching us as well how to be like Him as He is like our Heavenly Father.  He is teaching us how to be the children of the living God.

Now it is time to learn about one of the most important parts of our lives as a child of God.  Talking with our Heavenly Father.  This week we learn truths about how to pray.   Next week it will be what to pray.

I believe Jesus started teaching prayer as He did, because He knew He needed to deal with two false traditions.  It is likely that the disciples and the crowds believed that real heart-felt and amazing prayer was how the religions leaders modeled prayer.  They also might have been amazed at how some non-jewish cultures prayed to their “gods”.

The written Law, the Torah does not teach how to pray as if it is a formula or pattern.  It teaches it is a daily duty, but not how or how often or when.  The oral or spoken law from the Rabbis taught to pray three times a day.  This tradition is  still continued by many Jews.  I gave you two good links to more information on the Jewish culture and prayer.
http://www.mayimhayim.org/Hebrew%20Perspectives/D.Pryor1.htm
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/682091/jewish/The-Three-Daily-Prayers.htm

Lets see what Jesus taught.

5“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!  6But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

It is quite clear in this verse and 7 that the issue is not if we are to pray.  He taught when we pray!  Prayer come from two words = exchange and to wish.  Prayer is exchanging wishes.  Most scholars don’t believe this means we share wishes with God and He with us.  But it is more the idea that we give up our wishes for His.  We exchange our wishes for His wishes.  Prayer is a two way communication, but is more about our listening to Him than telling Him.

And when we pray it matters to God how we pray.  We are not to pray like hypocrites, but instead we are to pray in secret.  The word hypocrites comes from the theater.  A hypocrite is a performer, a pretender.  Actors normally wore a mask and therefore they pretended to be someone they were not.  So when they stand in the synagogues or on the street corners they are pretending to pray, not really praying.  Therefore they earn their reward, the praise of other people.  The word reward is based on what a person earned.  They performed and were rewarded for that performance.

What they love is not the intimate communication with God that prayer is to be.  The word love in verse 5  is the love between brothers or friends.  This even further emphasizes their love is for the praise of people, not God.

When we pray we are to pray in secret.  To be perfectly honest I have more to learn about this verse than I believe I understand.  Jesus did pray over the loaves and the fish in the feeding of the multitudes (John 6, Mark 8).  He also prayed with the disciples in John 17, Jesus High Priestly Prayer.  But normally He prayed alone (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46).
So are we never to pray with other people around us?  After praying in secret I still have no conviction that we are never to pray with others or in groups.  I sense no conviction that we are not to pray in our services.  But we are at the same time not told we should pray in groups or even with any other person.
Jesus prayed with the crowds before feeding them so praying together for meals in public seems covered as ok.  But it does not seem like praying in the Rynek is likely to be God’s will.  Maybe we are just too tempted in these situations to perform.  Ok, lets keep moving on.

There is one more aspect of verse six that is clear and insightful.  The word used for reward in this verse is different than in verse five.  This reward is based on giving back, returning, or restoring.  It is the two combined words = from & given.  So it is the idea that God gives something back to us or restores us.

This reward is still based on something we have done, prayer, but according to our need and not our want.  This fits also well with verse eight.

I believe we have many unanswered questions related to these verses.  But here is what I believe I do understand.  Why we pray is critical.  Praying for others to hear us is not prayer at all, it is a performance.  God will not reward us for our performances.  He will only reward us when we are in true conversation with Him through prayer.  We need to pray and I believe that is based on God desire to communicate with us through prayer.

Then Jesus taught against vain repetition – babbling.  7When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.  8Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.

Idolaters is actually the word for gentiles, but specifically pagans.  These are people who worship false gods.  A great example of this is the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20- 46.  It is an amazing story.  Elijah proposes a competition of who’s god is real.  The contest was who’s god can burn the offering by sending down fire.  For the prophets of Baal there was lots of babbling, 27At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up! ” 28They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them.

Thankfully we don’t have to “wake up God” with our prayers.  He is always listening and always answering.  We will see this in chapter 7 starting in verse 7.  The truth is that God already knows what we need.  And He rewards us based on what we need and not what we want.

Paul also taught about this principle in Romans 8: 26In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So is Jesus saying spending a long time in prayer is out of God’s will?  If so then Jesus was a bad son.  Jesus prayed all night in Luke 6:12 before choosing the 12 apostles from His disciples.  Mark 1:35 He got up before the sun rose to pray.  Matthew 14:23, and most of the night before being falsely arrested before His crucifixion.

I love another passage where Jesus taught us how to pray.  Luke 18:1He then told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged: 2“There was a judge in a certain town who didn’t fear God or respect man. 3And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
4“For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.’ ”
6Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? 8I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth? ”
Application
Jesus taught us to pray!  He even taught to be persistent in prayer, never give up.  But prayer is not so much what we do, but who we are to be.  Paul taught to pray constantly in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  After salvation we are always a child of God.  So why not pray constantly, or be always ready to pray.  Let God interrupt at anytime during the day or night to remind you of something that needs prayer.

Isn’t it wonderful that if we are prompted to pray we don’t have to go through some rituals or say 1000 words before being heard.  We can pray what comes on our heart and trust God with the results.

If you don’t want to pray, I believe something is wrong with you spiritually.  But don’t believe that you have to set aside an hour or two aside before the sun rises, or any other time, for real prayer.  Real prayer is basically a conversation with God that can happen, I believe, at anytime and place.  And you don’t have to wear special clothing or do certain actions to pray.  Nobody around you even needs to notice you are praying.

Jesus finished the parable of persistent prayer with the following statement – Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth? ”    Will He find that faith on earth.  Does He find it in the InterNational Church of Wroclaw?  If He is going to find that faith in the InterNational Church then He must find it in you and in me.

Well, does Jesus find that faith in you?  Do you pray and in doing so Jesus finds that faith in you?  For the next few moments I encourage you pray and talk to your Heavenly Father.  What does He want to reward you with as you pray?  Let Him reward you according to your need and not merely your wants.

We will now transition to the Lord’s Supper.

One of the disciples was a pretender, a hypocrite.  He went through the motions of being a disciple, but his love was for a different reward than truly following Jesus.  Likewise, I encourage all of us to check our hearts.  Jesus tells us why we are to continue to observe the Lord’s Supper, “in remembrance of Him, of Jesus.”  Please take a few moments to prepare your heart.

Luke 22:19And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”
20In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.
Pray

Matthew 5:43-48

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:43-48

Pray
Read
43“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Testimonies?

Introduction
As we end chapter 5, Jesus teaches one last comparison – “you have heard that it was said”, “but I tell you”.  Jesus is refocusing on an eternal truth from our Heavenly Father.  From the beginning God established everything according to His standards, His will, according to righteousness.  Unfortunately God’s will had become a bit blurry and out of focus.  Jesus is teaching us how we are to be which leads us to know how we are to live.

Lets dig into these challenging verses one at a time.

43“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
Jesus is quoting the Old testament and teaching of the scribes.  It is likely that the disciples and crowds on that hillside listening to Jesus were very familiar with these ideas.  It is also very likely that they all thought this is how God wanted them to think and to live.

“Love your neighbor” would have been a well know principle of faith from     Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  But if you try to find “hate your enemy” in the Old Testament you won’t find it.

Sadly the teachers of the law, the scribes and the Pharisees, had added to God’s true law according to their own ideas.  But lets not be too hard on the teachers of the law.  This is a very natural way of thinking.  My enemy is – well – my enemy!  The enemy is out to hurt me in some way so naturally I won’t like them and maybe even “hate” them.

Their enemy was anyone who was God’s enemy, anyone who was not a Jew.  And there were only rare times in the history of Israel that their enemies were not trying to destroy them.  So hating those who want to kill you seems to make sense.

The only problem with this natural thinking is that it is wrong for the children of God.  God wants His children to be supernatural, to be like Him.  Even in the Old Testament they were taught a different way of thinking in Proverbs 25: 21If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  22In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Therefore when Jesus taught:

44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Jesus is reteaching God’s righteousness and who the true children of God are to be that leads to what they do and how they are to do what they do.

True children of God “love their enemies”.  This is Agape love which is how God’s loves us.  This version of love can be translated as: I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of esteem.
We could easily spend weeks talking about God’s love.  I strongly encourage you to study this further yourself in the Gospels, 1 Corinthians 13, and 1 John 4.  To summarize God’s love = Jesus.  John 3:16.  God gave His best because of His love.  Jesus gave His life because of His love in obedience to His Father’s will.  We are to love in the same way, giving our lives to others.  In giving our lives, our love, to others we are obeying also God’s will.

Love is not about receiving.  Love is about giving!  When we serve others, when we focus on others and their needs above our own, then we are loving.  And God will fill us with His love as we love others.

“Love your enemies”, it seems crazy, but Jesus did it.  Remember when you were an enemy of God?  Romans 5:10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!  And because Jesus loved us with His very life, we are to love others likewise.

Jesus then gives one very clear example of how to love our enemies, “pray for those who persecute you”.  Clearly anyone who is persecuting us is a type of enemy.  Then what kind of prayers do we pray for our persecutors?  Father, please make them stop, maybe make them get a boo boo.  You don’t think whining is the type of prayer Jesus was thinking?  How about – Father, burn them, burn them bad!  Or I like this idea, Heavenly Father, may the flees of 1000 camels infest their armpits!  No, you don’t think so.

“39But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Matthew 5:39-41

But why would God want us to love our enemy and pray for our persecutors?

45so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

This is a core principle in this passage and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.  Being – “sons (and daughters) of your Father in heaven”.  God cares who you are more than what you do!  Because what you do comes from who you are!!!

And the children of God are to be like our Father in heaven.  Jesus is teaching about our spiritual character.  Our spiritual character is based on who our spiritual Father is, based on His character.  Have you heard the expression – “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”?  The children of God are to be and will be like their father because they are His spiritual offspring.

“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  To state it plainly, Jesus is teaching that God provides the essentials for everyone equally on earth.  Duh!  Which must mean, I believe, that He loves everyone equally.  So if we are to be like Him, then we need to love everyone equally as well.  There is so much we do not have time to say about how this works in our lives, but later I hope to provide some practical application.

Jesus is now going to give us a few examples of what sons and daughters of God do as a result of who they are to be.

46For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
Jesus again uses the word LOVE that means how God love us.  Jesus could have used three other words for different types of love.  But Jesus continues to use God’s love as the standard for the kind of love we are to have for others.  God’s love is a giving love.  This type of love is not based on the other person’s deserving or worthiness of receiving love.  Romans 5:8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!   We are not worthy of God’s love, but that is not the point.  God loves us because He is Love (1 John 4:8).  He chooses to love us because of how He is!

Nothing is wrong with loving those who love us back.  This is great and how things ought to be with everyone.  But it isn’t always what happens, an understatement.  And by our fleshly nature or thinking, we believe we should only have to love those who love us back.  If someone rejects my love, why should I every bother to try loving them again.  Or if I think they should love me first and then I will love them, we are being normal.

But Jesus is teaching that the tax collectors, who were essentially considered the “scum of the earth”, were also normal.  The last thing a disciple or follower of Jesus might want to be is like a tax collector.  Oh, but wasn’t one of the disciples a tax collector?  Oh, Matthew.  A bit of irony here don’t you think.

47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?

Greetings were a bigger deal in Jesus time than it is today.

Let me illustrate.

It was obviously a more meaningful exchange at that time than just a handshake.  Shalom was the common greeting among Jews which means “peace” from the idea of completion or wholeness.  It was a form of blessing that was often followed by verbal blessings.  But it also included a kiss.

Practically speaking it makes sense that we would not kiss, men to men, a complete stranger that is wearing unfamiliar clothing and obviously “not from around here”.  But I don’t believe the point Jesus is making is related to the kind of greeting.

I think we get a better idea of what Jesus was meaning in the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, and the Woman at the Well, John 4:1-26.  In both of these examples Jesus intentionally breaks cultural norms and Jewish traditions.  With the woman at the well Jesus didn’t just greet a woman, but He further talked to her, asked her for water, and drank it.

To us this seems normal or ordinary.  But to the disciples this would have been inappropriate and abnormal.  What the disciples didn’t realize at first is that Jesus was actually being extraordinary, not inappropriate or abnormal with the woman at the well.

“what are you doing out of the ordinary”     a better translation What have you done that is extraordinary?

The word can also be translated as: more, greater, excessive, abundant, exceedingly, vehemently.  The original word expresses the meaning of something or someone that goes past expectations.

The bottom line is that Jesus is teaching the children of God are to be more than ordinary, they, we are to be extraordinary.  True children of God go past what is expected, go beyond what is normal.

This is all true because God is beyond average – He is perfect.

48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock–His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true.
2 Samuel 22:31 God–His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.     Psalm 18:30

And Jesus is sinless, perfect as well.  Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 1:19, Hebrews 9:14

So because God and Jesus are perfect, make yourself perfect!  “Be perfect”.  Enough said and let’s go home.  Since we can’t make ourselves perfect, lets dig into this amazing statement from Jesus.

The word here for perfect is not limited to or specific to the idea of character, morality, or spirituality.  The word means: perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.
The root word is based on the idea of a completed goal.  It can apply to practical things that have many parts – such as a table.  When all the parts are assembled and the table is finished it is = perfect or complete.   This also applies to people related to our physical bodies.  The goal of a baby is to grow into an adult.  From Rider the baby to Rider the full grown professional athlete.

But this also applies to the whole of a person, not just our physical attributes.  Because Jesus uses the same word to describe God, it must be more than just about our bodies.  This must apply to every part of us.  God is complete, perfect in every way.  And His children are to also be complete in every way.

Ok, the bottom line is that I don’t know exactly what this means, I am still a work in progress.

But I believe we can learn more about how this really works through Hebrews 12:1-2 and Philippians 3.  Paul describes in Philippians 3 that his righteousness does not come from the Law, but from his faith in Jesus.  And then he continues in verse 12Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

The verb Jesus used, be perfect, tells us that this is a future reality that must really happen and is based on our own action.  I believe Hebrews 12 describes this idea as “fixing our eyes on Jesus”.  Philippians 3:12 “I make every effort to take hold of it”.  But this verse also makes it clear Paul knew that taking hold was based on “because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus”.

We can’t make ourselves perfect, but our perfect Savior Jesus Christ can make us perfect.  He first must take hold of us as we must never quit “making every effort to take hold”, to follow Him.

So lets try to wrap this all together.

Application
In general I believe this whole Chapter 5 of Matthew is Jesus teaching what it means to be a son or daughter of God.  And I don’t believe He is teaching how to be a baby of God, or a 5th grader of God, but a completed adult in God’s family, the Kingdom of God.

He is teaching us to be like champions, champions of the faith, champions in the Kingdom of God.  This term comes from the medieval days.  The champion was the “best of the best”.  But in the Kingdom of God I believe all of God’s sons and daughters are to be His champions.

One of the most important roles of a true champion was to defend the honor of the king and the Kingdom.  Therefore he or she represented the king and the kingdom at all times.  The champion was prepared at ALL times to die for king and kingdom.  This was essentially true because the champion had given his life to the king and the kingdom.  When knighted he gave up everything as symbolized in the knighting ceremony.

In a similar way I believe Jesus is teaching us one more way in which we are to be God’s champions.  He has already taught the BeAttitudes of a champion.  He has also taught us that champions of the faith are spiritual salt and light.  He has taught us how to deal with murder, adultery, and divorce.  Then He taught us as God’s champions we are to “go the second mile”.  Now Jesus is teaching us how to be extra-ordinary.

Ordinary people love their neighbors and hate their enemies.  Normal people love those who love them.  Average people greet only their brothers and sisters.

But sons and daughters of God are extra-ordinary.  We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  We seek to love everyone and we greet everyone.  Why do we do all of this?

Because God loves everyone and we are to be like Him, His champions, His ambassadors 2 Corinthians 5:20.  We do this because it is our new nature to do these things, because our nature is that of Jesus.

So it is self-check time.  Ask yourself as I ask myself before the Lord.  What are you?  Are you ordinary or are you extraordinary.  Are you average or are you growing to be like Jesus.

Do Paul’s teaching in Philippians 3:12 describe you as a extraordinary followers of Jesus?  12Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
We must be aware that we will never attain perfection on this earth, but we must strive for it.  Not with our own strength, but with God’s strength in us, Colossians 1: 29I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.

A critical factor is if we have Jesus strength working powerfully in us?  This must start with our own spiritual death, poor in spirit, Matthew 5:3.  Once we die to the flesh we can be born again, born of the spirit, John 3:5-8.  When we are born of the spirit we receive the Helper, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,  John 14:16.  This process is the Good News of Salvation through Jesus, God’s grace.  If you have not receive God’s grace through Jesus then that is the first step and you can make that today.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus, but realize something is not right and you are living an ordinary life then I encourage you to spend time seeking the Lord right now.

And if God is working mightily through you, Praise the Lord, and I encourage you to be available or someone who may need encouragement or council in the next few minutes.

Lets pray.

Notes
From verse 43
Love        Definition: I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem.
Cognate: 25 agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to “live through Christ” (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. 25 (agapáō) preeminently refers to what God prefers as He “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). See 26 (agapē).
With the believer, 25 /agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True 25 /agapáō (“loving”) is always defined by God – a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection” (WS, 477). 1 Jn 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving (“preferring,” 25 /agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.
Neighbor    Matthew 19:19   NAS: and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
Matthew 22:39   NAS: it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
Hate        Definition: I hate, detest, love less, esteem less.
3404 miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another.  Lk 14:26: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (3404 /miséō, ‘love less’ than the Lord) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (NASU).  [Note the comparative meaning of 3404 (miséō) which centers in moral choice, elevating one value over another.]
Enemy    Definition: hated, hostile; subst: an enemy.       2190 exthrós – properly, an enemy; someone openly hostile (at enmity), animated by deep-seated hatred. 2190/exthros (“enemy”), implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a “personal” hatred bent on inflicting harm (DNTT).   [2190 (exthrós) describes a person resolved to inflict harm (see DNTT, Vol 1, 553) – i.e. driven by irreconcilable, deep-rooted enmity.]

Key Points
Love your neighbor
Hate your enemy

From 44
King James Bible  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Pray        Definition: I pray, pray for, offer prayer.
4336 proseúxomai (from 4314 /prós, “towards, exchange” and 2172/euxomai, “to wish, pray”) – properly, to exchange wishes; pray – literally, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion”). Accordingly, praying (4336/proseuxomai) is closely inter-connected with 4102 /pístis (“faith”) in the NT. See: Ac 6:5,6,14:22,23; Eph 6:16-18; Col 1:3,4; 2 Thes 3:1,2; Js 5:13-15; Jude 20.
Persecutors    Definition: I pursue, hence: I persecute.
1377 diṓkō – properly, aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a catch (prize). 1377 (diṓkō) is used positively (“earnestly pursue”) and negatively (“zealously persecute, hunt down”). In each case, 1377 (diṓkō) means pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend).
Key Points
“I tell you”    God’s unchanged will, the way of the Kingdom of God, the way of righteousness
Love your enemies
Pray for persecutors
How about your neighbor?

From 45
Children of God    Definition: a son, descendent.
5207 hyiós – properly, a son (by birth or adoption); (figuratively) anyone sharing the same nature as their Father. For the believer, becoming a son of God begins with being reborn (adopted) by the heavenly Father – through Christ (the work of the eternal Son). In the NT, 5207 /hyiós (“son”) equally refers to female believers (Gal 3:28).
5207 /hyiós (“son”) emphasizes likeness of the believer to the heavenly Father, i.e. resembling His character more and more by living in faith (“God’s inwrought persuasons,” see 4102 /pístis).
Righteous        Definition: just; especially, just in the eyes of God; righteous; the elect (a Jewish idea).
Cognate: 1342 díkaios (an adjective, derived from dikē, “right, judicial approval”) – properly, “approved by God” (J. Thayer); righteous; “just in the eyes of God” (Souter). See 1343 (“dikaiosynē).   [“Righteous” relates to conformity to God’s standard (justice). For more on the root-idea see the cognate noun, 1343 /dikaiosýnē (“righteousness”).]   1342 /díkaios (“righteous, just”) describes what is in conformity to God’s own being (His will, standard of rightness); hence “upright.”
Unrighteous        everyone that is not righteous

Key Points
Sons & Daughters of God        Princes and Princesses         (Image of the King)
God’s grace is for everyone    But we must choose His grace or reject it
This is in contrast to the old understanding of neighbor, everyone is to be considered my neighbor

From 46
Reward        Definition: (a) pay, wages, salary, (b) reward, recompense, punishment.
3408 misthós (a primitive word, so NAS dictionary) – a reward (recompense) that appropriately compensates a particular decision (action).
Tax Collectors    Definition: a publican, collector of taxes.
5057 telṓnēs – a publican; a tax-collector, gathering public taxes from the Jews for the Romans.   [5057 /telṓnēs (literally, “paying-at-the-end”) referred to the toll-house where the Romans collected taxes from the public. “Publican/tax-gatherer” (5057 /telṓnēs) is derived from telos (“a tax at the end”) and ōneomai (“to buy”).]
Key Points
God ‘s love is extended to everyone        But it must be accepted?
We are to love everyone as does God

From 47
Brothers & Sisters    Definition: a brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian.

1 John 4:21
And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Ordinary        Definition: more, greater, excessive, abundant, exceedingly, vehemently
Cognate: 4053 perissós (an adjective, derived from 4012 /perí, “all-around, excess”) – properly all-around, “more than” (“abundantly”); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; “more abundant,” going past the expected limit (“more than enough . . . “). See 4052 (perisseuō).   4053 /perissós (“all-around, equidistant”) in John 10:10
Gentiles        Definition: pagan, heathen, gentile; subst: a Gentile, non-Jew.
Cognate: 1482 ethnikós(from 1484/éthnos, “nation”) – Gentile; heathen, usually referring to non-Israelites; a pagan, a “non-covenant person,” standing outside God’s covenant (salvation). See 1484 (ethnos).
We are to be extra-ordinary!  This in the spiritual sense, like Jesus, who is like the Father.

Key Points
? Why is greeting so important?
We are to greet everyone and anyone?

From 48
The writer of Hebrew stated it this way; 12:1-2      1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Perfect        Definition: perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.
Cognate: 5046 téleios (an adjective, derived from 5056 /télos, “consummated goal”) – mature (consummated) from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, i.e. developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process (spiritual journey). See 5056 (telos).   [This root (tel-) means “reaching the end (aim).” It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]
Future Indicative Middle        “I shall/will complete myself”
God & perfection        barrier of sin?

http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp147.htm

Key Points

We are “to be” the image of our Heavenly Father
Our being God’s children leads to righteousness, doing God’s wil

Matthew 5:38-42

Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:38-42

Pray

Read
38“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6 27“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. 32If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 36Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Testimonies?

Introduction
Jesus continues His teaching by contrasting the previous standards and traditions to God’s original intent.  I believe when Jesus is saying, “but I tell you”, He is teaching according to God’s will.  Jesus is bringing the children of God back to God’s standards, God’s righteousness.  Let’s see what Jesus has to teach us through these verses.

V38    38“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Reference    Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus 24:19- 22
Deut. 19:15-21    19you must do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from you. 20Then everyone else will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything evil like this among you. 21You must not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot.

Because God was in the process of creating a nation for Himself, Genesis 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”, His standards were absolute and may even seem harsh.  He was leading them to be held to a different standard than the rest of the nations.  I believe one of the standards He was establishing was purity.  We see this in the Deut. 19:19 “purge the evil from you” statement.  God is Holy and He was leading them to be a holy nation – set apart for His purposes.  But He also established these standards as a deterrent for others who might do evil Deut. 19:20.

A second standard God was setting was justice, Ecclesiastes 3:17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
If a person injured another then justice based on fairness was to be the goal.  This mentality of justice was intended to maintain peace.  If you do something to me, it is to be done to you as well.  Now we are both = even.  This is only fair or what is right = righteous.  The case is closed and everyone moves on with life.

V39    39But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

The old system still had it’s merits.  But Jesus taught a new standard for what is right, righteousness.  Or did He teach a new standard?  Proverbs 20:22  Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.  You see it was not always required by the one harmed or offended in the Old Testament times to enact his or her rights of equal harm or offense.  It was a choice to forgive.  As we see in this verse of Proverbs, mercy was understood as a godly standard.

God is still making a people set-apart = holy for Himself.  He always has been and He always will be.  Jesus is teaching that justice is the Lord’s.  Deuteronomy 32:28-43.  Verse 35Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay,.  And now God’s justice is based on His grace through Jesus.

Resisting the evildoer is like this – turn away from the evildoer.  We aren’t to do this.  We are to do something more like this – move to them.

We have a few great examples of this in the new testament.  Peter, Paul, Silas, Stephen, and the greatest Jesus.  Jesus did not resist the evildoers who tortured Him, insulted Him, and crucified Him.
1 Peter 2:23        When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

We are not to resist people who harm us, but instead we are to extend grace, just as God had extended grace to us through Jesus.

Jesus gives four examples of how we are to be gracious, to serve others, when they harm us.
This first example is an interesting one.  By the way, Jesus was slapped repeatedly when He was taken before the Sanhedrin in Matthew 26:67, John 18:23.

On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

In the past I have been told that a slap on the cheek was an especially serious insult.  But I could find little evidence in middle eastern materials or teaching.  In the Indian culture using the back of the left hand to the cheek is considered an insult.  But the Hebrew culture did not seem to have this same understanding.  But there is no question that this is a serious offense.

Jesus is using a common, every day, harmful gesture to illustrate His point.  I believe the simple point Jesus is teaching is that when we are harmed unjustly, our response is to forgive the offense and continue to pursue the relationship.  Instead of our fleshly response, we are to let the Holy Spirit lead us to respond according to God’s will.  Instead of slapping the person back or turning around and taking offense, we are to offer ourselves for further harm.

No mater how strong this insult may be, Jesus expectation is clear.  So lets practice!!!

Jesus expects us to respond in meekness.  Meekness is not at all passiveness or weakness.  Meekness  comes from strength under control, under spiritual strength and control.
Bible Exposition Commentary had a great statement.   “Psychologists tell us that violence is born of weakness, not strength.  It is the strong man who can love and suffer hurt: it is the weak man who thinks only of himself and huts others to protect himself.”

V40    40As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.

With this second example Jesus moves to a more official illustration, but with still the same general teaching point.  Apparently law suites were common during Jesus time.  And many of the law suites were based on broken commitments or contracts.  This ties in to last week very well!

It was common at that time to offer items of clothing as compensation for loans of small amounts that go unpaid.  Clothing at that time was much more expensive and valuable than it is today.  But there was abuse of the system and some people were falsely suing for other people’s clothing.

Jesus used this example to teach in a very practical way how forgiveness and grace works.  Even when unjustly accused we are to not “resist the evildoer”, but offer even more than expected.  I believe Jesus is teaching us that even in a court of law we as followers of Jesus have given up our earthly rights.  Now, more important than our rights, is God’s glory.  We become living testimonies of God’s work in our lives when we forgive others, extend grace and even more.

By the way.  The shirt or tunic is the garment warn closest to the skin.  The coat or the cloak was a common outer layer.  The average person would have only a few shirts, maybe two or three even.  And they would often have only one coat.  So if you give the person both, you are just about naked?  Lets move on quickly from this thought.

V41    41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

This next example was very specific to the time of Jesus.  Rome controlled the land of Israel and a Roman soldier or government official had the legal right to force a Jew to help them travel one Roman mile, measuring 1478.5 meters or 5820.9 feet.  The most common occurrence apparently was the Roman “postal and communication system”.

Well, as you can imagine, the Jews were not happy with this arrangement.  Just like Jesus, He taught His point using another common and controversial illustration.  My understanding is everyone tried to avoid the situation of being forced to go one mile, and Jesus is teaching go two.

Thankfully we can say, whew, we don’t have to bother with this example?  Right?  Or how might it apply today.  How about at the office?  Maybe going the “extra” mile for your boss with an assignment.  Or at home – do the dishes without grumbling and offer to do them for a week.  Or you see someone carrying a big pile of books, and you offer to take half of them even when it isn’t convenient.

We probably rarely are “forced” to do much of anything these days.  But I am confident that God provides opportunities on a regular basis, if we are looking, to “go the second mile”.

V42    42Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
And here is the toughest one for me.  This week this verse has really convicted me of my attitude related to money in general and giving specifically.  There is no question that giving and generosity are part of our being followers of Jesus.  For example Paul taught Timothy this in 1 Timothy 6:10.

I searched this week to see if there were any “loop holes” for this verse.  Like do we only have to only do this between Christians in our own faith community?  Deuteronomy 15:7-11 teaches when giving to the poor, it applies to “one of your brothers”.  In Acts 2:35 we are told that believers 45They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.  This was in the context of fellow Christians.  And Peter did not give money to the lame man in Acts 3:6, he healed him instead, so maybe I don’t have to give money as long as I can help them in another way.

But then I found Matthew 25:31-46 about the sheep and the goats, and Jesus did not specify to whom we serve, believers only or any and all people in need.  Or Luke 12:33-34, 14:12-14, but especially 6:38    38Give, 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.”  It continued to be clear that the true issue is not about money.

The true issue is about who I am.  The true issue is what is more important to me, helping someone in need or keeping what is mine.  By the way, Romans 11:36 tells us  36For from Him and through Him
and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen.  So really nothing is mine anyway.  And when I try to keep things the Father wants to give away, I am resisting Him, disobeying Him.
We are to use wisdom in dealing with people who will ask us for money or to borrow from us.  If giving into their request will ultimately hurt the person more than saying no, we need to say no.  For example someone wanting to buy alcohol and they are already drunk.
But it seems like the best policy will be the simple one.  When people ask us for money or other things our first response should be to give them if we have them.  Next would be a prayer asking for God’s direction and wisdom.  Then proceed according to what you believe is God’s will, what will bring Him the most honor.
Application
Here are what I believe are 10 key points, two per verse, from these verses.
God requires purity in His children.  Thankfully by God’s grace, He sent Jesus to purify us of our sins when we repent and surrender our lives to Him.
God cares about justice, but it is not based on how we think or want with our human minds.  True justice is based on righteousness.
We must given up our own rights so that we will become righteous and represent our Heavenly Father.
Gentleness is the opposite of weakness, it is strength under control.  We must be under God’s control by the work of the Holy Spirit in order to be gentle with those who persecute us.
God’s children will be unjustly persecuted in many ways because of righteousness, because of Jesus.
Everything we think we have, is actually not ours.  We are caretakers of what God has given us, everything.
Social humiliation can be an opportunity for God’s children to be Salt and Light.  How we deal with every situation, especially negative ones, is a godly testimony.
Inconvenience is not a good reason not to serve others, no mater what their motivation may be.  Serving others requires intentionality, boldness with kindness, and a bit of risk on our part.
When in doubt, give generously both time, skills, knowledge, and material resources.
Lending for the children of God is the same as giving.  If the person returns what they borrowed, that is between the borrower and our Heavenly Father.

I believe Paul took Jesus quite literally when he wrote the following instructions to the children of God in Rome.  Romans 12:9-21 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.  21Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

You might be wondering, how can this really happen in my life?  What do I have to do to make this real in my life?  I am glad you asked.  You really can’t do anything yourself!  None of us can change ourselves in any of these areas.  The only way it is possible to become a child of God is through God’s control.  Only when the Holy Spirit is filling our lives to overflowing is it possible to grow spiritually.

Lets take a quick self test.  Lets use the verses for today for the test.
38“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Is this how you think it should still work?  If so, something is wrong with your heart spiritually.  If you really believe this should still be the standard for righteousness then you are rejecting Jesus teaching.
39But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Be honest, what would you really probably do if someone slapped you on the cheek and you didn’t believe you deserved it?  Are you ok with your answer or are you convicted that you need to let God work on your heart in this area?
40As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.
If someone were to sue you unjustly for all of your shirts.  How would you probably really feel about giving them all of your coats as well?
41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Do you honestly avoid situations where you might be asked to do something you might not want to do?  Or when you are asked to help with something do you offer to do more than asked?
42Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
When was the last time you gave to someone who asked you for something?  How do you really feel about letting other people borrow “your” stuff?

I believe one of the key aspects of all of the Sermon on the Mount so far have to do with the word Trust.  I don’t mean trust in others, I mean trust in God!  Do I, do you trust God to be the judge who rules justly.

I believe Jesus is not teaching that we are to just offer the other cheek, or my shirt and coat that is worn out and too small, or to just help a tiny bit more than required, or to give the very minimum to the one who asks, or to lend only what we don’t really care about.

I believe Jesus is teaching we are to give our best, our all, and without reservations or conditions.

The bottom line may be if I trust God to take care of me through any and all situations.  What about if I am a journalist taken captive in Iraq?  Or a doctor treating Ebola patients?  Or …

Confession time.  I don’t mind giving my time as I love to serve people.  I don’t mind getting slapped around a bit.  I don’t mind justifying what is comfortable or convenient for me.  But I do have a problem giving my very best.  I believe Jesus is teaching we are to give our best, our all, and without reservations or conditions.

Jesus is teaching us how God wants to change our character, our being.  God requires that He be able to change us into new creations, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

I encourage you to spend time in prayer dealing with God in the areas He is convicting you.  If you need me, I will be over here dealing with my own areas with the Lord