Sunday, February 20, 2011

Loving Your Enemies Matthew 5:43-48

What?        Matthew 5:43-44       I say to you, love your enemies”      (Unconditional love) 
·         The Mosaic Law commanded that we love our neighbors (Leviticus 19:18).
·         But it raises the question… who is our neighbor?  
o   What does Jesus say?  Luke 10:25-42  The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
o   All people are our neighbors, even our enemies.
·         Does Jesus say we will not have enemies?
·         In the Kingdom of God, is our love conditional on others loving us in return?
·         Does Jesus expect our enemies will return love with love?
·         In telling us to love our enemy, is Jesus saying we should condone and not confront evil?

The Greek word that is used in v.43 is agapeo (noun- agape)… as opposed to other words translated out of Greek as “love,” such as: storge- family love; eros- sexual love:; or philia-love of a friend (brotherly love).  Agape is an unconditional, benevolent, selfless love. 
·         “No matter what that person does to us, no matter how he treats us, no matter if he insults us or grieves us, we will never allow any bitterness against him to invade our hearts…” (Agape Love-William Barclay).

Why?                     Matthew 5:45             “…so that you may be children of your Father in heaven,”
·         In other words, this mirrors God’s love toward us.
o   Do you treat God appropriately?                              Does He not love you anyway?
o   Do you insult God through your behavior?                Does He not love you anyway?
o   Do you grieve God with your disobedience?             Does He not love you anyway?
o   Are you too often the enemy of God, rebelliously opposing his sovereignty in the world?
·         In loving unconditionally, we are imitating God, who loves unconditionally.
o   Who sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous alike.”
·         The ultimate mark of Kingdom Living…       The imitation Christ.
o   We know that we are People of the Kingdom when our words and actions reflect Christ…
§  In this case… Christ’s unconditional, benevolent, selfless love.

How?                        Matthew 5:48             Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,”
·         But how?  There is only one man who has lived perfectly: Jesus Christ.
o   What about the rest of us? Does this bar us from Kingdom Living?
·         These words from Jesus reveal God’s ultimate standard, and we must take them to heart, but they also make clear that we need a righteousness apart from the Law, a righteous imparted to us that we cannot reach on our own… (Romans 3:21-22).
·         We also need God working in our lives to set our feet on the path to perfection.
o   This is called Sanctification… the journey into holiness.
o   The perfecting presence of God among His people is the Holy Spirit.
·         The answer to how, therefore, is two fold:
o   Accept Jesus’ offer to cover us with grace through faith.                  Come, Lord Jesus, come!
o   Relinquish our lives to the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit.          Come, Holy Spirit, come!

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