Kingdom Love

February 18, 2024 | Brandon Cooper

Brandon Cooper preaches on loving others as Jesus loved us through honesty, self-denial, and enduring insults without retaliation. Jesus teaches illustrations of kingdom living through generosity, abandoning rights, and loving enemies through service without expecting anything in return. True love means loving without conditions as Jesus loved without expecting love in return. Having an undivided heart to love others perfectly is only possible through the power of Christ’s love and salvation. Christians are called to deny themselves daily and love others through the reminder of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.


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If you want to go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Matthew chapter five, we’ll be starting in verse 33. This morning, Matthew 5:33, we’ll get through the end of the chapter today. As you’re turning there, 19th century, Scottish theologian and preacher, Alexander White, was involved in very bad accident when he was a child, they’re actually getting ready to take him to the doctor to amputate his arm. That’s how bad it was. But a kindly neighbor kind of knew what to do and agreed to nurse him back to health so that he could keep his arm and all that. So he was, you know, lying in bed for weeks, slowly, a healing and all of that. And if you can imagine 19th-century medicine, all that intense pain, and not much to do about it, not taking Tylenol or anything like that. But he used to as he was lying there, you know, feeling this pain, he would say over and over again. I liked the pain. I liked the pain, I liked the pain. Why would you say that? Because he knew what it meant. He knew that it meant that his arm had feeling and was healing. And plus, he had an arm. So you know, like good things all around? Well, so we learned some lessons there that he actually brought into his preaching, when he was in a convicting tax, he used to say, you know, to the congregation, get them to say as well, I liked the pain. I liked the pain. Why? Because it means then that our hearts have feeling and are experiencing healing. I bring this up, because of course, the sermon on the mount can be incredibly discouraging. The greater righteousness that Jesus is asking of us here feels impossible feels out of reach. It’s actually interesting. At one point, C. S.  Lewis was criticized publicly, because it seemed like he didn’t like the Sermon on the Mount. And he responded by saying like, right? What do you mean by like, exactly. He’s like, if you mean, I enjoy reading it, like I get a warm feeling in my heart when I read it. No, I don’t have that. And the same way that I don’t like being knocked flat by a sledgehammer. He said, I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of a man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. That’s about right. If you can just read and listen to me nicely, you’re probably not hearing it right, are you? And this is a good reminder, though, then for us. Because there is a good chance that you’ve been feeling knocked flat, as by a sledgehammer, and a few points in this series. And we’ll continue as we go, especially as we hit today, kind of the climax of this section, these these six illustrations of the greater righteousness that Jesus demands of us. And today, it’s going to strike right at the heart, right at our innate selfishness. You know what I mean by innate, right? Like it’s there from the beginning, you have to teach it. Few years back, the kids did a song up here based on Philippians, two, and at one part, the two sides of the the kids were supposed to kind of yell back and forth, it was this cute little thing where they go, you know, you first you first No, really, you go ahead. It was really cute. Some of you remember that. Well, we talk about that song a lot in our home, especially with certain small, masculine members of the family who need the lesson quite a bit. So we’ll kind of say, you know, what do we say, and they will literally go me first me first. didn’t teach them that, right didn’t have to teach them that that’s what I mean by innate selfishness, that just causes us to take from others as much as they possibly can for the sake of our souls. But Jesus came to heal our hearts, so that we could be truly selfless, and actually get to that you first you first mentality so that we could love as He loved us. And that’s very much what we’re talking about today. That is the big idea. Just right up front, nice and simple to read it not as simple to do, but it’s this love holy, just as Christ wholly loved you. As we’ll see, near the end of the sermon, we could actually say love perfectly, just as Christ perfectly loved you. Those are big words, the big idea we’re going to dig deeper as we do this kind of like going through three layers of an onion here, we’re gonna start off with almost an example of what I mean. And then we’re gonna kind of look at the negative vision for what’s the don’t the put off and then we’ll get to the center. But what is the positive vision? Put on the the do that’s where we’ll go. So let’s start with this almost example of what I mean by loving Holy Jesus Christ holy loved us to love, we must first of all deal truthfully. That’s where Jesus begins may read verses 33 to 37. For us. Again, you’ve heard that it was said to the people long ago do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made. But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all, either by heaven if it is God’s throne, or by the Earth versus footstool, or by Jerusalem. versus the city of the great king, and do not swear by your head, but you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply yes or no, anything beyond this comes from the evil one. So once again, we begin with the You have heard that it was said, and this time it is not a direct quote from the Old Testament, although it is a pretty good summary of Old Testament teaching. Most likely the third commandment especially right, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. One of the places you’d be tempted to do that is in making oaths, I swear by God, I’m going to do this or I’m not going to do this. So most likely dealing with vows at least a huge part of that. So the teaching the Old Testament comes out lots of places, Leviticus 19, verse 12, would be a really good example here just says Do not swear falsely by my name, and so profane the name of your God, I am the Lord. So you can see again, there’s the concern with profaning and profaning, God’s name, that’s the danger with with breaking these vows. Now, before we dig a little deeper on that, we might want to ask the question up front, just kind of what’s the deal with vows anyway? Why are they such a big deal where they show up over and over and over again, in the Old Testament, we’re not really a vow culture in a lot of ways today. Most likely, this is coming from the fact that back then, especially in the Jewish context, there was a strong belief in the power of words to effect reality. That is, you’re not just talking about reality, you are almost making reality. And the act of speaking you could think of blessing and cursing as being some good examples of what I mean there. And proverbs affirms this idea, the tongue has the power of life and death, like the tongue can create life or create death. And this all makes sense, because of course, these are good people who worship a God who created simply by speaking I mean, there’s the power of words right there, let there be light and there was light. So vowels are then ubiquitous in this culture, because they were believed to truly guarantee what was being said to make a guarantee. Unless of course they don’t, because you can imagine how easily that would get abused. Which leads to later warnings again, Jesus drawing on Old Testament teaching here in so many ways. Here’s just as an example, Zachariah eight do not plot evil against each other and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this, declares the Lord. Gotta say warnings like this, because there is a temptation to deal deceitfully with people, deceive them, for our sake, so that we can get what we want. You can imagine how this might work, you’ve probably experienced this temptation you maybe you’re gonna deal the seat fleas that you get out of trouble. Did you take the last cookie? No, I swear, I didn’t know. Or to win a claim for yourself. Yeah, that was that was my idea. I came up with that. Or to avoid some hard conversations, does this dress make me look fat? All these kinds of things. You could almost say the existence of oaths, proves the existence of lies. The only reason we have oats is because we know we lie to each other, again, in order to take advantage of each other. You know what happens when a when a teenager is saying to his or her parents, I swear, I swear I’m telling the truth. They’re saying, I know I’ve lied to you before. You know, I’ve lied to you before. But this time, I’m not. I promise, except of course, that is so quickly abused again. Because if you know when you say I swear they go, Oh, must be telling the truth. Because now she’s swearing. We’re gonna go oh, so if I say I swear that I can get away with the lie. So imagine now you’re a religious Jew, in the first century context right there with Jesus, you’re in a bit of a bind, then, humanly speaking, because you need to take owes in a culture that loves owes in order to show that you’re not lying. And you also want to lie. There’s the bind that you’re in. You don’t want to do things like break the third commandment though breaking the commandments is bad because then you wouldn’t be faultless as regards the law. You know, when you go up to Jesus and say, What must I do to enter the kingdom and he’ll say, you know, you know the commands you can say I kept all these. I kept all these you want to be one of those people. And so what do we need that? We keep seeing in this section of the Sermon on the Mount, we need some leave loopholes? How can we swear without swearing.
And so what they came to, at this moment when Jesus is responding here is that the rabbi’s began to argue that with a third century, the third commandment really prohibits is profaning. Not perjury, the problem is messing with God’s name, not deceiving your neighbor so that you can take advantage of her. So you just need to be careful that you don’t implicate God, you know, involve him in your oath, when you’re getting ready to lie. Now, of course, this is evading the whole purpose of vows, isn’t it? You know, it’s all in the name of self preservation and, and self advancement. So it kind of feels icky to begin with, right? Like, I need to know how to cheat my neighbor is not a great place to be. But there is actually a bigger problem that Jesus points out here. And that’s that you can’t actually swear by anything that doesn’t involve God. Because it’s all his, you’re gonna swear by Heaven. Well, that’s where God dwells. That’s where he sits on his throne. And it’s where by Earth that’s his footstool, you gonna swear by Jerusalem? Well, that’s, you know, the Kings city right there, you’re gonna swear by your head? Well, okay, you think that’s mine, for sure my hair, except that you actually have no power over your hair, believe me, if we had power over our hair, I would have more of it. You can’t turn it brown, you can’t turn it blonde or red or white or anything, you can dye it, but that’s cheating, that’s faking, we know that you can’t actually change the color of your hair. So whatever you swear by, you are swearing by something over which God and God alone has sway. And so he’s always involved in the process. Which means Jesus says this is the conclusion he draws. If you’re going to use oaths to get away with lying, then it’s just time to abolish oaths altogether. Because now you got no legal loopholes, because there are no vows to manipulate here. Now, I got to say here that this is not universal, I don’t think. And I mentioned that because of course, there have been traditions that have taken this as a universal prohibition. So the Anabaptist trend, the like, what is the word I’m looking for? The descendants the Anabaptist, the like the Amish and the Mennonites, you know, they would still do this part of the reason why there’s a very countercultural element, they’re not totally part of society, because they can’t take, oh, they won’t take owes because of this passage right here. And you see what that would mean, of course, but is that what Jesus is saying? I don’t think so. Not necessarily, like if you’re, you know, called as a witness in court, you put your hand on your Bible, can you say I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Could you take a vow of service if you were going to go into the military or politics, political office or something like that? You know, I think so. Yes, if your heart is right, because of course, we’re dealing with the heart here. And so my intention is not to deceive. And so if you need me to go through a formality of saying, yes, right, I agree to tell tale tell the truth and only the truth, then. Fine. The point is, it shouldn’t even matter. Really? Because whatever you say, your yes is your Yes. And your no is your No, that’s the kingdom standard. And anything beyond that is evil. Because the intent is to deceive. And that’s like Satan, who is the father of lies. So our standard should be absolute truthfulness, no matter the matter. Absolute truthfulness, because we follow one who is himself the truth, capital T, we have to ask ourselves, why would we lie? If we know the gospel? Would we lie to look better? By hiding some fault in ourselves? Look, the cross has already exposed you are you’re not fooling anybody. You are so bad, that you couldn’t even save yourself. So Jesus had to come and save you. So who are your kitten? Hiding your faults? They’re there for everyone to see. Are you going to lie to be liked better to win the acclaim of people but God has already set his approval on you. When you come to Christ. In faith, he has set his love on you what better liking do you need than that? Here’s the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it he says the cross is God’s truth about us, the bad truth and the good truth and therefore it is the only power which can make us truthful. When we know the cross, we are no longer afraid of the truth. We need no more owes for we live in the perfect truth of God. That’s the kingdom standard. But we can probably admit that that’s not always how we live, it’s just so easy to fib, you know, the fish gets a little bigger mistake gets a little smaller, that weight gets a little lower, the score gets a little higher, we will say that we will do something, knowing that we have absolutely no intention of following through on it, retell that story. So we look a little better in it, or even something as foolish as just laughing along with everybody else, even though we didn’t get the joke. Because we don’t want to look like we’re out of it. And all that is without talking about social media, and all the filters, literal or otherwise that we apply to our lives in order to deceive. So if that’s our culture, if that’s our ethos, it’s just so easy to tell little eyes, lies Think of how powerful the truth becomes Helmut tilaka puts it like this. He says the avoidance of one small fib may be a stronger confession of faith in the whole of Christian philosophy, because it would be so powerfully countercultural. So we so often deal deceitfully for the sake of self, to cheat people, or when something for ourselves that isn’t really ours. But if we love the holy as Christ loved us putting others first, we’ll deal truthfully. Now, this raises the question, though, of course, why am I not putting myself first? What is the problem with that, if I don’t put myself first nobody else is gonna put me first so I’m not gonna get taken care of. Why would I care about others more than myself, that’s where Jesus heads next, because we’re gonna have to get over ourself if we’re going to learn how to love and so that’s the second point. We’re gonna love like Jesus will to love we must deny self. They keep reading verses 38 to 42. You You’ve heard that it was said eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek. Also, if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt handle your code as well. No one forces you to go one mile go within two miles, give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Alright, the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth is a direct quote from actually a couple of different places in the Old Testament, Exodus 21, verse 24, for example. And here’s the thing, Jesus is not saying that that quote is bad. Like in this part of the Old Testament, God got it wrong. And we need to correct this, we need to give a new and better way of handling insult. That’s not it at all. So the phrase eye for an eye a tooth for tooth is so badly misunderstood. Today, you may have heard the quote before it’s attributed to Gandhi, although he most certainly did not say it an eye for an eye leave the whole world blind. And that’s kind of the problem people have with this quote. That gets it exactly wrong. That is exactly backwards. Because the purpose of this language I fry tooth for tooth is to prevent excessive punishment, and vigilantism got cycle of retribution and violence that happens so often, especially in societies where there’s not a strong rule of law. And that law piece is key. This phrase is given in the context of the courts. This is a judicial standard, it might almost say it’s a little bit like a minimum and a maximum sentence. Today, you want to make sure it gets in that sweet spot where it isn’t excessive punishment. The other person, though, will feel like justice has been done so they don’t take matters into their own hands. Because that’s the issue right in a society we need to ensure that justice is done that wrongs are redressed imperfectly sure we’re human, but you know, to the best of our ability, so that if someone steals from you, you know, they’re gonna have to pay you back, and maybe a little extra to, you know, pay for the hassle of all of that. Because if that doesn’t happen, people will begin to take matters into their own hands. You can think of a good biblical example, this would be the violation of Dinah by one of the men of Shechem. And what happens I think it’s Genesis 34. Somewhere about there, two of her brothers, I think it’s Levi and Simeon, but I could be wrong. Go and trick the men of Shakha all the men, not just the one rapist but all the men and so that they’re wounded and then they murder them all. So look what just happened took matters into their own hands. And it was excessive punishment, because they killed innocent people in that process, not just the guilty.
That’s what we’re trying to avoid. We’re ensuring that judicial punishment happens but is fair. So if you got an eye or a tooth, don’t take ahead in response. Even then, though, in its Old Testament context, this was all not always meant to be literal. So again, we’re in Exodus 2124, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Verse 25 says burn for burn wound for wound install for install. And then the very next verses verses 26. And 27. Say this, they deal with slaves being injured. I’m not getting into all the slavery stuff right now. Okay, no, slavery is very different from what most of us think about it. That’s a different sermon, we will deal with that another time. Just look at the legal standard here. So what it says an owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye, and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave muscle of the slave go free to compensate for the tooth? Isn’t that interesting? Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth? Here’s somebody who lost an eye and somebody who lost a tooth like that’s not coincidental, right. And what happens, they don’t knock out the owner’s tooth, and pluck out the owner’s eye. But there’s justice, justice is done, still. And so what’s the the point of all of this? Well, the issue is that by Jesus’s day, this phrase had become license to exact personal vengeance was no longer being applied in a courtroom setting. And so that’s why Jesus says, When this happens, don’t resist an evil person. In other words, don’t take matters into your own hands. Let God be judged, because there will always be perfect justice done. And that view is consistent with a whole of the Old Testament Paul probably summarizes it best but even then note that he’s quoting from Deuteronomy 32. He says this Romans 1219, do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath for it has written it is mine to avenge, I will repay the you don’t have to take matters in your own hands, you can let me deal with it, justice will be done. Now, quick aside, we got to say this one, of course, is we’re about to see, as we look at these four illustrations, we are dealing with personal injury and insult. This is not dealing with watching somebody else be harmed. Like if you were to see abuse happening in the church, for example, you should resist that evil person. And of course, there’s a whole lot of Scripture about that. There’s not what we’re talking about. Here, we’re talking about personal insult. What does Jesus say about it? The point Jesus makes in these four quick illustrations is that it’s often right to be wronged. And we might even say just to endure injustice personally. And in this, of course, he’s he’s echoing what he’s already taught in the Beatitudes. That eschatological vision, that vision of the future that is coming, when Christ comes again, blessed are those who are persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless it are the meek. Why? Because they will inherit the earth, right? Like, that’s what’s going to happen. So we can bring the Venn in there into how we act in the here and now. And here are some examples. Now, these examples do get a bit tricky, especially if we are trying to apply them a little too, literally. And so what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna get some context, just what exactly Jesus is saying. And then let’s come back and draw some conclusions. So first illustration, if somebody slaps you on the right cheek, now, we got to think about this. Most people in the world are right handed. So if you’re facing somebody, and you’re right handed, how do you slap their right cheek? back of your hand, back of your hand is not meant to physically injure so much as to insult. You want to injure somebody you swing this way. Will Smith at the Oscars, am I right? Okay, so this is just meant as an insult. What Jesus is saying is that kingdom, people can suffer insults, just like Jesus suffered insults. And frankly, the Cross says worse about us anyway. Second example. Basically, if somebody Sue’s you for your suit of clothes, go ahead and throw in your overcoat, too. And this one’s interesting, because that’s actually explicitly prohibited in Exodus 22. very next chapter. There aren’t chapter divisions back then. So it’s like just a couple of sentences later, after I fry tooth for tooth, and it says you cannot take somebody’s overcoat, because that’s their blanket. And so you’d put them at risk of death from exposure and that’s not just a you can’t do that. And yet here the per or somebody is like, Fine, have this too. We could say there, they’ve decided not to insist on their rights. Third one very similar. Someone asked you to go a mile. This is the Roman occupying army, it was legal for them, if they were passing through a town to just grab a townsperson, and make them carry their pack, but only for one Roman mile. And then you could drop the pack. And there’s nothing they could do you you had fulfilled, you know, the legal law. So what did Jesus say, and again, you could go with them longer. You don’t have to insist on your rights. You don’t have to say, you know, the law says you could just serve. And then the last one, lending, giving to those in need. Now, a whole lot of teaching in the Old Testament about this, do you read the book of Proverbs, there’s a lot of wisdom about, you know, don’t just lend to anybody kind of thing. But still, what Jesus is saying here is, don’t be tight fisted, be liberal, and generous, even if it ends up costing you. And you can think of how this works, perhaps you’ve given to people begging on the streets before. And you kind of think yourself, I don’t know where this is going. This could be going to buy booze or something like that, probably not best. And yet you go, you know, I would rather be wrong on the side of generosity than wrong on the side of miserliness. That’s what Jesus is saying. So here’s the thing, we look at these four, these are not meant as laws for life. Because if these were laws, we will get right back to legalism and loopholes. Like take that third example. Well, so now, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to carry the pack two miles, and then you’re gonna drop it down and go get it. That’s what I was supposed to do. That’s the law. That’s what Jesus told me. No, that would be completely against the spirit of what he is saying here. These are meant as illustrations, and giving guidelines principles for life, what is the overarching principle, Christians yield their rights, freely surrender their rights to things like vengeance, get to slap them back, or possessions, that’s my overcoat, or time, it’s gonna take me a little while to carry this pack a couple of miles and money, we yield our rights, we might even on occasion, find it wise to abandon our legal rights for the cause of Christ, in order to love God, and love our neighbor. This is really different. Now we normally work, we often treat people how they treat us. That’s the law of the land. That’s the law of the human heart. So you got a roommate or a spouse. And let’s say you got a late meeting, and you come back and you discover they left all the dishes in the sink. And so here you are exhausted and up late, and now you got to do the dishes and start the dishwasher before you go to bed. What happens the next time they’ve got a late meeting. Eye for an Eye tooth for tooth dishes for dishes, you get to leave in there, right? This is how we treat each other and this household, apparently. But not in the kingdom. In Christ’s kingdom, the norm is personal self sacrifice. We deny ourselves and serve others, even those who persecute us, like an occupying Roman force. Now, how are we going to do that? Let’s think about this for a moment. I think it begins by when you start to feel annoyance, or defensive, or something like that. stop and ask yourself, why? Like, what’s my real concern here? Am I actually concerned about justice? Or am I really just concerned about myself? What I want in this moment, we’ll see how often the route is self centeredness. Alright, it’s about wounded pride or pleasure denied. Also think about, by the way, just how irritable and unhappy we become. When we’re constantly keeping score. We’re constantly expecting people to do things for us, and they don’t do it and it just ruins the day over and over and over again, what is the solution to that unhappiness, self centered unhappiness, we must look to Christ. Christ who denied himself, and who took up the cross for our sakes in order to provide us with true and lasting happiness. We need that reminder of Christ because we will not deny ourselves without regular gospel preaching. And I don’t mean this moment right here me preaching to you. I mean, preaching the gospel to our selves. As we dig into God’s word daily.
Why do we Because Jesus says the model, Jesus was slapped and insulted, and yet he repaid in salt, not within salt, but with blessing. Jesus was robbed, Jesus’s rights were denied it was a travesty of justice, the trial that led to his crucifixion. And yet, he did not open his mouth. He didn’t protest. And because of that, he’s given us all the things that we try to get when we don’t deny ourselves, like vindication, which is already ours in glory. Somebody’s going to steal money for us, guess what? My inheritance is secure in heaven. Already. He has given us justice and even better than justice, He’s given us grace. So we have all of this in Christ, it’s untouchable in Christ, which means we’re free to yield in this life. Someone cuts in line. Or you’re serving a thankless task, and sure enough, nobody’s thanking you for it. Nobody sees where you’re mocked for your faith, at work, or at school, or wherever it might be. And you can just keep on loving. You can just keep on loving, but because we insist on our rights when we’re self centered, but when we see Christ’s love for us, we are free to love also by denying ourselves. But one more question, what does that look like? Practically? Like, we’ve kind of gotten the idea, okay, so don’t choose yourself. But what do we do then? What’s the positive vision, that’s the last point to love, we must do more. We must do more. We’ll see what that means in a moment. Let me keep reading though. Verses 43 to 48. You’ve heard that it was said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his son to rise on the evil and the good. sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? are not even the tax collectors doing that. And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? You’re not even pagans do that. Be perfect. Therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Love your neighbor, hate your enemies. I want to be really clear here. hate your enemies is not a quote from the Old Testament. It’s there it was said commonly at this time. But this comes from drawing profoundly unbiblical implications from the command to love your neighbor, as opposed to love my neighbor. But that means a whole lot other people I don’t necessarily need to love, along with some other Old Testament texts that deal with God’s treatment of Israel’s enemies, because Israel did have enemies, and God did fight against them. might think of the Egyptians the Exodus, or the Canaanites, with the conquest. But even then, you know, this is God’s perfect divine justice, he goes out of his way to ensure that, for example, the Israelites are left in slavery in Egypt for close to 500 years. Why so that the sin of the Canaanites would reach its full measure, that when Israel conquered the land, it’s because it was just, of course, you’re gonna understand why there might be some of this thinking, though, that’s kind of like Canaanite Egyptian thinking, when again, you’re looking at an occupying Roman force all around you. What would happen in that situation, you would develop a legal loophole mentality. In fact, we actually see this mentality in a different scene with Jesus, one of the scribes coming up to Jesus, you know, what must I do to be saved another one of those kind of situations? And, you know, what does the law teach? And Jesus kind of throws the question back at him, what do you think the law teaches? And he says, I think love God and love your neighbor. And Jesus says, You’ve answered Wow, that’s pretty good, actually. And what does he say next? Who then is my neighbor? That’s a loophole mentality. Could you draw a circle around the people I’m supposed to love Jesus, so that I know which people I am free not to love. And that would mean I could be faultless yet again, because I’ve made the commands easy, yet again. This was very much the mentality though. So we’ve got documents from the Qumran community, the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, that will talk about how the sons of life sons of light should must hate the sons of darkness. But this is interesting. Again, this is not Old Testament teaching. We read things in the Old Testament, like Exodus 23. We’re just kind of hanging out in this one section of Exodus, right? 2122 23. Here’s Exodus 23, four and five and look at how it talks about how you should treat your enemy. And you know, when someone who hates you it’s Is this if you come across your enemies ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey if someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there, but help it get back up. So what Jesus is saying here is really just in continuity with the Old Testament. He’s just saying, you know what you should be like God, you should love the way God loves you. God who loved and still loves his enemies. That’s the heart of the gospel. Right, Romans five, eight, we quote here, love God demonstrates His own love for us in this While we were still sinners, enemies, Christ died for us. And so you see now why this whole idea of love is really the culminating ethical command of this whole section that we started way back in verse 17. It’s the culminating ethical command Love is the big idea of the whole tax, not just my sermon this morning. But even then love is not the third point. It’s it’s all of it. Everything that we’re talking about is love. What does Paul say Romans 1310. Love is the fulfillment of the law. You want to keep the law of love. That’s what you got to do. You here’s the thing. It’s one thing to deny yourself and yield your rights so that you don’t retaliate. But again, that’s a negative vision. We need a positive vision. Also, what does it look like to love? sacrificially. Like the way Augustine said it he said, many have learned how to offer the other cheek, but do not know how to love him by whom they were struck. That’s what we’re asking right now. And that’s where Jesus goes. And he makes it tough, doesn’t he? Look at verse 46. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? I like how John Stott says it. Here’s he’s incisive, he kind of says, a lot of us learn not to retaliate evil, but we don’t learn not to retaliate. Good. Quid pro quo idea. Retaliation is the way of the world. You do me a bad turn, I will do you a bad turn. But on the flip side, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. And so we retaliate, good and evil. It’s like revenge and recompense. But Jesus is saying, Yeah, that’s not the way of the kingdom though. Ephesians five, one, and two kind of gives it to us nicely. Paul writes, follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering, and a sacrifice to God. Alright, so we’re supposed to love the way God loves us. What does that look like? God didn’t love us only after we loved him, we would never have loved Him unless He loved us first. He doesn’t love only those who follow Him. In fact, Jesus even says, He sends the sun on the good and the bad. He makes the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous sun and rain are really important in an agrarian society. So he’s blessing every one. That’s how we must live to loving only those who love you back is not the greater righteousness that Jesus demands of us. In fact, that’s just human. That’s what the tax collectors those tremendous sinners are doing. That’s what the the pagans who don’t even know God what they are doing. We can do that too, though. You think you know, am I gonna bring a meal to someone? Only if I know they’ll bring me a meal in return? Or if you invite somebody over to your home for hospitality, are you expecting reciprocity, I’ll get an invitation in return. When you hang out with people, only if you find their conversation stimulating. You know, they do something for you. As you hang out with them, you like the way they make you feel they’re not difficult. We’re regular people. That leads the penetrating question that that Jesus asked in verse 47, where our point comes from your greed owning your own people, what are you doing more than others? What are you doing more? We might say it like this. Is there anything different? Even special about you? Because you are a Christian? Do you stand out in any way in a world of retaliation? Because you know, Jesus,
Martyn Lloyd Jones, and I’m drawing a lot on him in this closing little section here. He points out that a Christian is someone who does what no one else can do. which is to love truly, without expecting a lot in return. That’s not just acting altruistically. A lot of people can do that. But truly loving going at the heart level, which is what we keep talking about truly loving others, above yourself, and even at cost to yourself. Because your heart has been subdued by Christ’s love for you, so that you have truly died to yourself, and have been raised with Christ to live and love as He did. Our treatment of others must never depend on how they treat us. Because that wouldn’t be Christlike. And so it requires denying ourselves. Because of course, you’re living for yourself, you will always be watching, and then reacting to how people treat you. But we don’t treat people how they treated us, we treat people how Christ treated us how Jesus treated us. Jesus loved us without any thought, as to what we had done to him, or how we would even treat him in the future. Because of course, we continue to sin against Him. So we love when we do more, more than what we would have done in the flesh more than we would have done in a quid pro quo world. When we do what Christ would do for us. That’s what it means to be perfect. Verse 48, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Man, that’s not a fun verse is it? You want a sledge hammer verse there it is, how you feel and who’s perfect. Like God is perfect. No one, okay, we’ll keep working. It’s interesting, the Old Testament quote is actually be holy. Because I am holy. The Lord says that Jesus changes it from a holy, I think, in part because holiness was kind of a train of the Pharisees, the little legal loopholes, I did it, I’ve gotten holy. So he gotta pick a new word to kind of shock people out of their stupor. But this word perfect, it has the idea of complete behind it. And so that’s why I keep using the word a hole. You may have heard me use that a lot in this series already. Because that’s what it is. So perfection, like without fault. Yes, absolutely. That’s coming in glory. You’re not going to get there. But hopefully we get closer and closer as we go, but a whole meaning the actions match the attitude, the hands meet the heart, so that you are truly a person of integrity. in the most literal sense. You’re you’re an undivided person. That’s what we are supposed to be. Can we freely admit that this is just impossible in the flesh, and just about impossible to sustain? Man, I think of how hard this is to do even in marriage. And this is like supposed to be the person you like best in this world. And how often we get back to well, you left the dishes, so I’m leaving the dishes. Like we are not good at that. And that should humble us. We talked about this last week greatly. There’s just a dropping of the head as we look at what’s expected of us. But that’s okay, because it humbles us in order to exalt us. God opposes the proud but it gives grace to the humble. Here’s the way Martyn Lloyd Jones puts it he says there is nothing more discouraging than the Sermon on the Mount kind of takes us full circle. That’s the introduction again, right? It seems to throw us right out into damn our every effort before we have started. But at the same time, we know of anything that pays us a greater compliment than the Sermon on the Mount. Why? Because if Jesus asks this of us, if he commands this of us, it means it is possible in him. Think of Augustine same as phrase command what you will give what you command. I can’t do this unless you give it to me. And so it is possible. But here’s the key. It’s only possible in Christ because of the gospel is the only way to be hold. To have an undivided heart. That the purity of heart that Jesus blesses in the Beatitudes. Remember, purity of heart is to will one thing, there’s the homeless. It’s possible you feel condemned. As you listen to this. You feel guilty and ashamed. You felt it already in the series, you will feel it again. In the series here is the word of comfort to you. We believe in a God who sends the sun and the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. But that God has done more than that. He hasn’t just sent the sun he has sent his Son to the cruel cross of Calvary so that you and I may be saved, even though we are not perfect. And love like that changes someone doesn’t change us in the sense where you go, I’m gonna, I’m going to earn this now I’m gonna live up to this and I’m gonna white knuckle my sin into submission. No, it changes us. Because it reminds us that we can be children of God, we have been adopted as God’s children. And so we begin to become like our father is nobody says that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Verse 45. That’s the heart of this living in relationship with a God who loves us. And who loved us when we were his enemies. Love like that would make us different, special, so that we stand out in a world like ours. So we love holy not so that God will love us. But because he loves us and just adds, he loves us holy and perfectly in Christ. Let’s pray.
Lord, we are not perfect as you are perfect. We stand before you humbled, and in awe of your holiness and perfection we we praise you as the perfect one. Who is wholly other who is transcendent. But you’re not just transcend it you are imminent as well. You have come near to us, by your son. You have loved us, even when we were your enemies, are reconciled us that we would be not just friends but even your children and as your children, Lord, when we come to you by grace through faith. Would you make us more like you? Would we really become true family members, with all the characteristics of the family, loving others, even those who hate us and persecute us, who wound us and insult us. Just as Christ has loved us. We can only do this by your power. And so we pray for that now fill us with your spirit to this good and we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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