Faithlife Sermons

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Intro- Recap Thanksgiving weekend, Haleigh and I had a great time in Pittsburgh with her family.
Yesterday was the Michigan-Ohio State football game, her whole family is Ohio State fans.
I’m happy to report that, for Haleigh, the combination of marrying me and her working at Michigan Medicine has turned her into a UM fan.
But I spent the game yesterday in enemy territory, rooting for Michigan while the rest of her family was rooting for OSU.
It was a sweet victory yesterday.
You could say I was in enemy territory, today we are going to see Jesus’ command for his followers on how they are conduct themselves in regards to their enemies.
Let’s Dive In
Matthew 5:43-45 - Selfless Love is demonstrated by Loving Enemies
Matthew 5:43 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’”
Jesus is continuing in the way he has been teaching… “You have heard that it was said...”
Jesus is fulfilling and explaining the law, not destroying it.
Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.
He clarified what it meant and showed what the Pharisees and teachers added to it.
“You shall love your neighbor”
Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
“…and hate your enemy.”
The scribes and pharisees added onto the law with this tag, not found anywhere in the OT
Passages like Psalm 139:19-22 “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
Judicial judgments on their character, not personal vengeance.
But the scribes and pharisees took it as permission to hate anyone that looked different than them or offended them.
The scribes and pharisees thought they were honoring God by looking down on anyone who wasn’t Jewish.
All they while, they were way off.
We want to point a finger at them and say “how could they?”
But it’s more natural than we want to admit
Driving home from Pittsburg, at the rest stop in Ohio, wearing my Michigan jersey, high-fiving fellow Michigan fans.
How often do we do this though?
Someone looks different than us so we look down on them, think they are less than us, they offend us so we write them off.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
Jesus’ Rebuttal
“Love your enemies..”
Jesus dispels the idea of hating enemies.
This is not the heart of God or the way his Children are to live.
He is preaching against the scribes and pharisees.
He takes the negative element in the last section - Matthew 5:39 “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.”
And calls his follower to the positive, “…Love your enemies...”
It’s not just “don’t slap back.”
It’s the positive attitude, “Love them.”
Good Samaritan- Luke 10:29 “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?””
Who do I have to love?
We so often want to do the minimum that God requires.
The neighbor of the lawyer was even the man that he was “supposed” to hate, the last person he wanted to love.
Yet Jesus required him to take positive action, be a good neighbor
Who is your neighbor?
Even the last person you think deserves love.
“…and pray for those who persecute you...”
What does it mean to love your enemy?
Jesus here gives one application of this.
Pray for those who persecute you.
It’s not just not retaliating but humbling yourself enough to bring them before the Father in prayer.
Luke 23:34 “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
God does not ask his followers to do something that he doesn’t do.
While Christ was on the cross, being crucified, he prayed for those who were crucifying him.
Jesus is our greatest example
Kent Hughes says, “When you pray for someone while they are persecuting you, you are assaulting the throne of God on their behalf: ‘God, help this person.’”
Matthew 5:45 “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
“So that...” would be understood by the Jewish hearers as “So that you may be like your Father who is in heaven.”
This was a common way of speaking.
This is not a condition here.
Reason - Because this is how God, our Father, loves.
Example of This - God sends sun and rain on those who deserve it and those who don’t.
“His sun” - God is in control of it and it belongs to him.
Everyone one of us was once an enemy of God because of our sin, yet we still saw and felt the warmth of the sun and the cooling rain on our face.
God didn’t have to do that.
To take it further, God’s love for us, expressed in Christ Jesus has nothing to do with our good will or anything we’ve done.
It’s based on his self-governing will and love.
Rather, God’s love is in spite of us.
Point #1 - Selfless Love is Demonstrated by Loving Enemies
This is how God loves and we are called to do the same.
When have you met someone who doesn’t know Christ who loved his or her enemy?
You haven’t!
Your natural ethics and morality can make a passive resister; but the Christian is a man who positively loves his enemy, and goes out of his way to do good to them that hate him, and to pray for them that use him despitefully and malign him.
How is this possible?
Selfless love is love that is not based upon what someone does or has.
It is based upon our view of them.
Are they made in the image of God?
Are they doing this because they are a sinner in need of a savior?
Are they bound in sin, following the way of their master, the evil one?
Then we should go on thinking, until we see them in such a way that we become sorry for them, until we see them as going to their terrible doom, and at last become so sorry for them that we have no time to be sorry for ourselves, until we are so sorry for them, indeed, that we begin to pray for them.
We must take pity on them as Christ took pity on us and chose to redeem us.
Their salvation must be at the forefront of our mind.
Introduce Selfless Love - Agape Love
Jesus is not asking us to have a romantic love or a buddy love or a family love or an emotional love for our enemies.
What he commands is an agape love—that is, a deliberate, intelligent, determined love—an invincible goodwill toward them.
C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.
Do not waste your time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.
As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.
When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
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