Summary: When we more deeply understand the phrases that guide our lifestyle, we can become godlier followers of Jesus Christ.
Deuteronomy: Foundation for The Sermon on the Mount
(Deut. 15:7-11; Matt. 5:42; Deut. 18:13; Matt. 5:48, Deut. 4:5-8; Matt. 5:14-16)
1. In the trenches of life when decisions need to be made quickly, we often depend upon short principles that offer us immediate direction and give us spiritual instincts.
2. Example: C. Everett Koop is a great medical ethicist; when addressing end of life decision-making in a booklet he wrote for pastors--because people often ask our opinion in these sorts of situations -- he said something like, "you need to decide whether you are extending someone’s life or extending their death."
3. Other quick-reference sayings might include, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," "talk is cheap," "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," "more is not always better," and "you can’t believe everything you read."
4. For believers, the source for many of these "near at hand" principles is the Sermon on the Mount, such as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," "turn the other cheek," and "walk the extra mile."
6. The many succinct statements in the Sermon on the Mount hit us like the rapid fire of a machine gun. But I believe that many of these statements are conclusions, separated by perhaps 10 minutes of teaching before reaching those conclusions; yet the conclusions might make us wrongly conclude that nothing came before them. I believe that the starting point for each set of conclusions is the Old Testament, and, in many instances, Deuteronomy. Yet the way Jesus distilled the principles of the Torah is masterful.
Main Idea: When we more deeply understand the phrases that guide our lifestyle, we can become godlier followers of Jesus Christ.
I. Lending and POOR Friends (Deut. 15:7-11, Matt. 5:42)
A. Not INDISCRIMINATE But Responsible Financial Help
B. UNFORTUNATE people "in the land"
C. Despite the COMPLICATION of the Sabbath Year
Note a more literal translation of Deut. 15:9, "Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you." (NKJV)
Matthew 6:21-23 continues the idea of this passage: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Contrast Jesus’ teaching with later rabbinic rulings:
If a man repays another money which he owes him in the seventh year, the other should say to him, I remit it.1 If the debtor then says, ’All the same [take it]’, he may take it from him. [This rule is based on] the text, Now this is the word2 of the release.3 Rabbah said: The creditor may tie him up4 till he says so. Abaye raised an objection [from the following]: When [the debtor] offers him the money he should not say, This is in payment of my debt, but, ’It is my [money] and I make you a present of it’? — Rabbah replied: Yes; he ties him up until he says so.
Hillel came up with a procedure to work around the Sabbath year called the Prosbul
Jesus is saying, in essence, "If you just trust God and do what He says, God promises to bless you if you honor the Sabbath year and the unsecured generosity it brings." Avoid the complications through simple obedience.
D. Jesus applies the underlying PRINCIPLE: Compassion
Compassion means helping people we know
• There is an ethic in Scripture about strangers, but that is not in view here
• We miss the boat when we think compassion means primarily helping the homeless and the addicted
• Example: Jeff worked with a homeless person…suit….job….eventually back to gutter; occasionally a success story here; but what is lacking is what we see in Deuteronomy: helping people we know who have fallen on hard times…
• Compassion needs to be a habit, not an event! Sometimes it means being patient and understanding; sometimes it means being generous; sometimes it means being friendly to someone who is alone and without friends; it always means concern.
• Compassion is not something you can always do in a controlled environment; it might take unscheduled time…an interruption in routine…
• There are people in this building today who might need special compassion
When we more deeply understand the phrases that guide our lifestyle, we can become godlier followers of Jesus Christ.