Friday, December 24, 2010

Love Your Enemies


Matthew 5: 43-48

Story & Lessons

The Jews had narrowed down the meaning of ‘neighbor’ to those whom they loved.

But Jesus said, "Love your enemies" (44).

This is one of the most difficult commands to keep.

Satan has spoiled their lives and we must overcome their evil with good.

Remember that they are enslaved by Satan, lost and bound for hell.

Love has won many a hostile sinners to Christ.

Our attitude to others must not be determined by what they do to us.

"Love your enemies, etc… that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (44-45).

We must be like our heavenly Father who shows His love every day to his enemies.

If we only love those who love us, we are no different to the ungodly.

Reflection...

How are we to love our enemies?
- In our words : "Bless those who curse you."
- In our actions : "Do good to those who hate you."
- By praying for them : "Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you".

We must aim for perfection; we must not be satisfied with anything that falls short of it.

We are children of our father in heaven and we must reflect his love in our own lives.

Let us also remember that the Lord Jesus prayed for his enemies who nailed him to the cross.

The demand that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (20) is far reaching.

What is your attitude to your enemies? When did you last pray for those who have hurt you?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Love Is The Fulfillment Of The Law


Matthew 5: 38-42

Story & Lessons

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was given to ensure that the punishment was appropriate to the crime.

But Jesus warns us that we must not seek personal revenge when we are wronged.

This does not mean that when we are the victims of crime, we should not press charges against the criminal.

Evil-doers must be punished in the civil courts. When criminals are not adequately punished, law and order breaks down and criminals are left free to inflict their evil deeds on more victims.

To be slapped on the cheek was a great insult which could be punished by a very heavy fine.

But Jesus is not telling us to invite further suffering, but to respond to insults by being gracious.

Jesus said that we should not insist on our rights – “let him take your cloak also”.

The Jews hated the Roman practice which compelled them to carry a soldier’s load for a mile.

Jesus said that his followers should go the second mile with the load.

Reflection...

There is much talk today of standing on our rights.

Jesus calls us to self-denial in our reaction to those who have wronged us.

Did you turn the other cheek the last time you were wronged?

The Lord Jesus goes on to tell us to give to him who asks us and to freely lend our possessions.

This does not mean that we should encourage those who are lazy but that we must help those in genuine need.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Speak The Truth


Matthew 5:33-37

Story & Lessons

The scribes and Pharisees developed a perverse theology of oath taking.

They taught that certain oaths were solemn and binding; others were not binding.

They would swear by heaven, by earth, by Jerusalem, by the head, by the temple, etc.

This was an escape clause to allow lies and deception.

But Jesus forbade this evil practice.

*******

There is an epidemic of lies among us.

Young children resort to lies without shame or a blush.

Employees take paid sick leave when really they are quite able to work.

Many leading politicians are liars and deceivers.

Reflection...

Christians must be different!

Jesus said, "Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’"

We must always be truthful, honest and reliable.

We must never make promises that we know we cannot keep.

God sees us and hears us!

If you are deceiving others by duplicity, lies or half-truths, shame on you!

Repent of your sin and seek cleansing and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Divorce


Matthew 5:31-32

Story & Lessons

God hates divorce but he saves those who have been divorced and remarried. We must not treat them as if they had committed the unpardonable sin; rather we must welcome them into our church.

Moses allowed a man who found some uncleanness in his wife to divorce her. This was a solemn measure to protect the rejected wife and to prevent unlawful divorce. The man was not allowed to remarry the rejected wife if she was later widowed or divorced from the second marriage. Moses permitted divorce in such cases because of the hardness of their hearts, "but from the beginning it was not so" (19:8).

This concession was misused in New Testament times to allow for unlawful divorce and the Lord Jesus teaches here that divorce is only permitted when the spouse was unfaithful.

When adulterers were put to death under Jewish law the marriage was obviously terminated and the surviving partner was free to marry again. But the death penalty for adultery was not permitted under the Roman occupation of Palestine.

Jesus indicated that the wronged partner would be allowed to remarry just as if the guilty one was dead.

Marriage is a covenant in which solemn promises are made before God, including the promise to remain faithful until parted by death.

Whoever divorces his wife. . . (31).

Reflection...

The wicked influences of the world have crept into the church and divorce among professing Christians is becoming common.

What kind of spiritual state are we in if we can so lightly break these sacred promises and disregard God’s word?

Let us seek God’s grace each day to be faithful to his word and to the one to whom we have committed ourselves in marriage.