Sermon on the Mount – What’s Love Got to Do with IT?


Sermon on the Mount

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

 

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

 

Jesus asserts that a passionate follower of Christ must not only love their neighbor but they must also love those who are considered to be their enemies. What Jesus was saying is that we should love those that we find difficult and hard to love. The fact is that all of us will most likely have someone in our life that we will find it hard to love.

 

In the case of the Pharisees, they held a narrow view of who their neighbor might be and a narrow view concerning whom their love was to be shown as commanded by God in 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.”

 

In Luke 10:27, Christ poses a question to a lawyer who was most likely a Pharisee. Jesus asked him to define “what is written in the law?” The lawyer responded by saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus congratulated the lawyer for a correct answer. Then the lawyer in trying to justify himself asked the question of “Who is my neighbor?” You see this is an important question that must be resolved in our hearts. Jesus response was what we know now as the parable of the Good Samaritan. In essence Jesus was saying that anyone we come in contact with is my neighbor.

 

In the passage before us in Matthew 5 and Luke 6, Jesus says that we are not only to love our friends but we are to also to love our enemies. To understand this passage we must define who our enemies might be.

 

Who is our enemy?

  1. V44 – Those who persecute us. The scripture says “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” These people are those who oppose you or intentionally try to hurt you. The word “persecute carries with it the idea “to pursue with harmful intentions.” It might include hostility like Christ Himself experienced.
  2. V45B – Those who oppose you in less dramatic ways – These are the ones who resist your will. This might include the rebellious child or the cantankerous neighbor or the uncaring, non-listening, ill-tempered husband or wife. These can be the daily annoyances of our lives.
  3. V46-47 – The enemy can be anyone who doesn’t love us. It may be hard to believe but there are people out there that do not love you. We all have them.

 

The idea expressed by this passage is that we don’t stop loving because the person does things to offend us, dishonor us, hurt our feelings, disappoint us, frustrate us, threaten us or even kill us. But He says to love them and to keep on loving them.

 

How do we express love to our enemies? Jesus says that we are to “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” The result is that we will act like and be conformed to Christ’s image.

  1. We bless them – V47. “If you greet only your brethren.” When you think of the person who is slandering you, and saying untrue and nasty things about you, find ways to work blessing into your thoughts. Speak a blessing out loud. When you are with friends, instead of complaining about your unjust treatment, go out of your way (actively) to speak well of your enemies. Why? To shame them? No — though it will. But to find it in your own heart to love them.
  2. We do good to them. We find ways to practically meet their needs – V45. When you find a way you can do something good for one of your worst enemies, do it. Not to shame him, but because you are trying to find it in your own evil heart to love him for Jesus’ sake.
    1. Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
    2. Romans 12:19-21 – Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  3. We pray for them – V44 – Praying for one of your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something god happen to them. This goes beyond just wanting good things to being in the presence of God who knows our thoughts and the intent of our heart. When you’re praying, you probably pray for your family and your pastor, and your friends and family. Why don’t you begin to pray and intercede for your enemies? Actively. Start to ask God to help them. Ask God to heal the hurts in their lives that are some of the motivators of their evil actions. Ask God to bless them and show mercy to them. Why? To shame them? No, in order to find it in your heart to love them.

 

And if you’ll do good when you find opportunities, and bless when you think of them, and pray and intercede earnestly before the Lord, you’ll find that God will begin to put love in your heart toward your enemies. This will be actual love and at times it will sometimes bring loving emotions, too.

 

Why is this important?

It is amazing what happens when we honestly begin to pray and seek God on the other person’s behalf. Praying for others does the following:

  1. We show by example what Christ has done for us. We characterize what Christ does for us. He prayed for His enemies on the cross when He prayed forgive them for they don’t know what they do.
  2. We begin to see the other person as God sees them.
  3. We allow God to begin to change the way we think about the other person.

 

Where does this kind of love come from?

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we see that Paul explains the nature of love. He states that Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

 

In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul challenges the church to “Pursue Love” which in essence means to pursue God because God is love. As we know God we will know His love. You see we are powerless to accomplish these things apart from a work of the Holy Spirit.

 

What Paul in essence does is destroys the legalist act of trying to do these things. The fact it is love that does these things and it is only as we are consumed by God’s love can we accomplish these things.

 

1 John 4:16 – God is love and by pursing love we are in reality pursuing God’s love. Therefore any act of graciousness is actually a result of dwelling in and recognizing how powerful God’s love is.

 

Bertrand Russell a well known British philosopher noted that “The Christian principle, ‘Love your enemy’ is good… There is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practice sincerely.”

 

The Pharisees problem is that they were trying to keep the law rather than become the kind of person whose deeds are naturally conforming to the law of God. This kind of love is at the core of what we are or can become in fellowship, not something we do. Then the deeds of love, including loving our enemies, are what that agape love does in us and what we do as the new person we become.

So how do you do it? I don’t think we wait for emotions of love. Rather we start with actions of love, and emotions may follow later. We start doing what Jesus taught right here:

So “what does love have to do with it?” The answer is everything,,,,


 

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