Kid’s views on Love: What do most people do on a date?
• On the first date they tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. Mike, 10
• I’m not rushing into being in love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough. Regina, 10
Some surefire ways to make a person fall in love with you.
• Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores. Del, 6
• Don’t do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain’t the same thing as love. Alonzo, 9
• One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it’s something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me. Bart, 9
How can you tell if two adults eating dinner at a restaurant are in love?
• Just see if the man picks up the check. That’s how you can tell he’s in love. John, 9
• Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food. Brad, 8
• It’s love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it’s just like how their hearts are . . . on fire. Christine, 9
What most people are thinking when they say ’I love you’?
• The person is thinking: Yeah, I really do love him. But I hope he showers at least once a day. Michelle, 9
How a person learns to kiss.
• You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you. Doug, 7
• It might help to watch soap operas all day. Carin, 9
• When you think about love, what comes to mind? Pictures of romance, family, children?
• We picture love as something that is feeling based or emotional based.
• Every day couples who once were “in love” will say that they no longer “feel” like they are in love with their spouse to the point of wanting to end the marriage. Boyfriend and girlfriend relationships end every hour because that feeling that once was there is lacking.
• For most people, it is easy to love people close to them. We can love our children, our spouses, our family and friends. We can love people who are good to us, or people who do things for us.
• In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is going to give us one of the most difficult things for us to do, love our enemies, love people who are mean to us or who persecute us for doing the right thing. Why would Jesus expect such a thing out of us? How many of you want to love someone who is mean to you? There has to more to love than just a feeling if Jesus is commanding us to love?
• Today the title to my message is, “I Have to Love WHO?”
• I hope that after today’s message that if you are struggling with loving people you may not like, or if you are having trouble loving a spouse, child or someone who used to be close to you, that this message will help you.
• For everyone else, we all need some help and encouragement loving people who have wronged us or who are not too nice to us.
I. THE OLD WAY (VERSE 43)
• This is the sixth way that our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, the way that we choose to love.
• Jesus is quoting in part Leviticus 19:18 which says, “’You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
• You will notice in verse 43 that there are a couple of differences between what Jesus says and what Leviticus says. Notice two things. First, there is no reference to hating anyone and notice that God told the people that they were to love their neighbors as they loved themselves.
• What Jesus has done in this instance is He has combined the scripture with the commonly taught practice of the day.
• In the context of Leviticus 19 and other Old Testament passages, the Jews understood their neighbor being fellow Jews. They were under the false impression that they did not have to love those who were not Jews.
• The part about hating an enemy came from an inference that the Jews made from the Old Testament. When the Israelites were taking possession of the Promised Land, God told them to kill EVERYONE and not to make treaties with many of the inhabitants of the Promised Land (Ex 34:11-16 as an example). They drew the inference that God hated these people and therefore the Jews were to hate them as enemies.
• The Jews considered all the Gentiles to be their enemies.
• The truth of the matter was not that God hated these people, but they along with their false religions would drag the Israelites away from God.
• In the Jewish writings there were all kinds of disparaging things said about the gentiles. The Jews felt that they could hate these people and that they did not have to save one of them if they were dying. They people had an utter contempt for the gentiles. This is one of the reasons that the story of the Good Samaritan had such a stinging message for the religious leaders.
• The Jews of Jesus day were bent of revenge and justice for anyone who wronged them. Remember the context of last week’s sermon on going the extra mile.
• God never intended for His people to be a people of hate, they were to be an example to the rest of the world as to how God’s people were to conduct themselves, much like the church is today.
• Jesus is going to tell us that there is a better way for those who belong to His kingdom. (ISN’T IT EASY TO HATE PEOPLE?) Life is short.
• The natural way for us the deal with people is to basically treat them the way that they treat us; Jesus will tell us that His people will act in a different manner.
II. THE NEW WAY (VERSE 44-45A)
A. Love your enemies.
• Love’s question is never who to love—because we are to love everyone—but only how to love most helpfully. We are not to love merely in terms of feeling but in terms of service. God’s love embraces the entire world (John 3:16), and He loved each of us even while we were still sinners and His enemies (Rom. 5:8-10). Those who refuse to trust in God are His enemies; but He is not theirs. In the same way, we are not to be enemies of those who may be enemies to us. From their perspective, we are their enemies; but from our perspective, they should be our neighbors.
• Jesus’ command for unrestricted love is grounded in one’s relationship to the Father, which necessarily demands a love surpassing conventional standards or expectations.
• A little girl one day went to her mother to show some fruit that had been given her. "Your friend," said the mother, "has been very kind." "Yes," said the child. "She gave me more than these; but I have given some away." The mother inquired to whom she had given them. She answered, "I gave them to a girl who pushes me off the path, and makes faces at me." When asked why she gave them to her, she replied, "Because I thought it would make her know that I wish to be kind to her, and she will not, perhaps, be so rude and unkind to me again."
• The natural response is for us to repay evil for evil. To bless and pray for those who persecute you is to align yourself with the character of God. Evil for good is evil, good for good is human, good for evil is divine.
• ROMANS 12:17-18 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
• In a parallel passage in Luke 6:27-ff we find that our enemies are those who injure and persecute us for righteousness sake. These are people that we need to love.
• The type of love that we are to have for our enemy is not the same type that we have for our spouse or children, but it is to be the same type of love that God has for us. We do not deserve God’s love and our enemies do not deserve our love.
• We are to love our enemies in such a way that we may cause them to change their ways and turn to God. If someone is your enemy that is one person you will never have a chance to win to Christ.
• Remember when we talked about going the extra mile? It takes love to do that. It took a lot of love on Jesus part to go the extra mile for you and me!
• Luke tells us in Luke 6:28 to bless those who curse us. To bless means to speak well of them. Instead of exchanging insult for insult we are to speak well of those who curse us.
• In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they treat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an- eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what’s reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions. General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed. "General," he said, "I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you." "I know," answered Lee. "But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!"
• The second thing that Jesus tells us to do is to:
B. Pray for those who persecute you.
• Have you ever had a person that you had trouble with, maybe you really dislike them in a big way because of something that they have done to you?
• Our have you had a person who just gives you a hard time all the time?
• Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us.
• One of the reasons for that is that pray may be the most powerful weapon that we have to change them and their attitude towards us.
• It is hard to hate people that you pray for. Try it.
• By the way, we are not to pray that God zaps them into hell immediately.
• Stephen, while being stoned to death said, ACTS 7:60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep.
• Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him in Luke 23:34.
• Stephen did not like what was happening to him, but he loved his persecutors enough to want to see them saved
• In events following the tragic bombing in Oklahoma City, anger often was met with love, even among Christians grappling with both. Callers swamped Oklahoma City radio talk shows. Those callers who insisted that the perpetrators be shot on sight were followed by others who pleaded for prayers for the bombers’ salvation. The desire to forgive rather than seek revenge, which was expressed by many people in the Bible-Belt city, impressed reporters. An atheist told a local pastor he had never experienced such love.
• Read 1 Corinthians 4:10-14
III. THE REASON FOR THE NEW WAY EXPLAINED (45-48)
A. The Example of the Father (45, 48)
• The first part of verse 45 says that we do this so that we can be sons of God who is in heaven.
• Loving as God loves does not make us sons of the Father, but gives evidence that we already are His children. When a life reflects God’s nature it proves that life now possesses His nature by the new birth.
• One of the commonest and most damaging criticisms of Christianity is the charge that Christians do not live up to their faith. Even though the world has a limited and often distorted idea of what the gospel is, they know enough about the teachings of Christ and the life of Christ to realize that most people who go by His name do not do all that He commanded and do not live as He lived.
• When love and pray for our enemies, we are showing the world who we love and that we will do some of the craziest looking stuff for the God that we love.
• EPHESIANS 4:31-5:2 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
• Look at verse 48. The perfection that is God is utterly impossible in man’s own power. To those who wonder how Jesus can demand the impossible, He later says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). That which God demands, He provides the power to accomplish. Man’s own righteousness is possible, but is so imperfect that it is worthless; God’s righteousness is impossible for the very reason that it is perfect. But the impossible righteousness becomes possible for those who trust in Jesus Christ, because He gives them His righteousness.
• That is precisely our Lord’s point in all these illustrations and in the whole sermon—to lead His audience to an overpowering sense of spiritual bankruptcy, to a “beatitude attitude” that shows them their need of a Savior, an enabler who alone can empower them to meet God’s standard of perfection.
B. To be different than the world (46-47)
• READ VERSES 46-47
• If the scribes and Pharisees were certain of any one thing it was that they were far better than everyone else. But Jesus again cuts through their blind hypocrisy and shows that their type of love is nothing more than the ordinary self-centered love that was common even to tax-gatherers and Gentiles—to whom the scribes and Pharisees thought they were most undeniably superior.
• Those were probably the most devastating and insulting words these religious leaders had ever heard, and they must have been enraged. Tax-gatherers were traitorous extortioners, and almost by definition were dishonest, heartless, and irreligious. In the eyes of most Jews, Gentiles were outside the pale of God’s concern and mercy, fit only for destruction as His enemies and the enemies of those who thought they were His people.
• The citizens of God’s kingdom are to have a much higher standard of love, and of every other aspect of righteousness, than does the rest of the world. Christians should be noticed on the job because they are more honest and more considerate. Christians should be noticed in their communities because they are more helpful and caring. Christians should be noticed anywhere in society they happen to be because the love they exhibit is a divine love. “Let your light shine before men,” Jesus had already said, “in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). As J. Oswald Sanders comments, “The Master expects from His disciples such conduct as can be explained only in terms of the supernatural.”
• Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, The Hiding Place: It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there -- the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!" His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile; I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
• Forgiving people, loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you will be some of the hardest things for most of us to do.