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How we regard those who are hostile to us is the ultimate test of our spiritual health. We can intellectually agree with the concept of love and even profess it, but when confronted with hostility, how do we react? Can we look back this month, or week and truly say that we have shown the love of Christ even to those who were most hostile to us?
We must take care that we neither profess false expectations that everyone will be our friends or that we will not experience hostility. Often when we do the right things we experience such conflict. Jesus certainly did. When we focus on what our actions and what our attitudes must be, and not making excuses based on what someone else has done, then we show ourselves to belong to Godís kingdom.
How can we love those who are hostile to us? Jesus shows us how in looking at 1) The Misinterpretation: Matthew 5:43, 2) The Mandate Matthew 5:44, and 3) The Motive: Matthew 5:45-48
1) The Misinterpretation: Matthew 5:43
Matthew 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, íYou shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.í (ESV)
That phrase is the only part of the tradition that was adapted from the Old Testament.
Leviticus 19:18 requires that:
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. (ESV)
This command was often repeated in the New Testament (Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8). Love for others, shown in sympathetic concern and actual care for them, had always been Godís standard for human relations.
As in all the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking here about personal standards of righteousness, not civil law. In the fullest sense an Israeliteís neighbor was anyone in need whom he might come across in his daily living. (See our Lordís answer to the question, ďWho is my neighbor?Ē in Luke 10:30Ė37.)
As in each of the five preceding illustrations, Jesus repeats the essence of the contemporary traditional teaching, in this case the teaching about love. Love, said the ancients, was to be reserved for those you get along with. Enemies were to be hated.
Satanís perversions of Godís revelation almost always touch on the truth at some point. A little truth makes deception more believable and acceptable. The rabbis and scribes had kept a part of Godís truth about love. In spite of such clear revelation, rabbinic tradition had perverted Old Testament teaching both by what was omitted and by what was added.
A) PERVERSION BY OMISSION
Omitted in the tradition was the phrase ďas yourself,Ē which was a key part of the Leviticus text but
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