Summary: There are times it’s worthwhile to figure out what Jesus "didn’t mean."
OPENING: A woman read ahead as we were going through this text and was troubled by the phrase: "do not turn away from the one desiring to borrow from you." It wasn’t that she didn’t give to those in need... her problem was that she was giving so much away, that she barely had enough left for herself and her family. Clearly, she wanted to show love, but she was afraid that she was misunderstanding something. So first we need to deal with what Jesus DIDN’T MEAN.
WHAT DID JESUS "NOT MEAN"?
1. Did Jesus mean for us to "give to everybody?"
Well, there are certain priorities in "giving." For example:
· If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Tim. 5:8). That’s one of our 1st priorities as a believer.
· Don’t give what is sacred to the dogs or cast your pearls before swine. There are certain people that you know are going to abuse or misuse your "gift" and so you need to be careful about giving to them.
ILLUS: Several years ago at this congregation, there was a regular attender at worship who was down on his luck. Repeatedly, the congregation would help him out with financial gifts because he was part of their church family. Then it became known that he was visiting one of the local porno shops in the area. It was apparent that their financial gifts were going toward supporting his "habit" and they changed how they helped.
2. Did Jesus mean that we shouldn’t "resist Evil" at all?
There are other scriptures that show us that this may be an oversimplification. For example:
· Jesus clearing the temple courts. There were probably no more imposing sights than when Jesus turned over the tables of the marketers in the Temple - twice. What was He doing? He was resisting the evil of men within a sacred setting.
· Proverbs 25:26 declares that "like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked." The lesson there: there are times when we need to confront and resist evil.
· Romans 13:1ff even tells us one of the ways we can resist evil - through government.
No, Jesus wasn’t talking about walking away from evil. He was not talking about the idea that we shouldn’t oppose all evil. Rather He WAS addressing the way we should deal with personal confrontations. Note the emphasis: "strikes YOU... sues YOU... forces YOU.…
These were incidents where personal space is invaded by others who make us mad. In those settings, our temptation is to strike back and return blow for blow.
JESUS WAS ADDRESSING THE "FAIRNESS DOCTRINE"
ILLUS: Tell me: when you enter a restaurant, what do you do when the waitress doesn’t bring you an item you had paid for?
You might complain, talk to the manager, or at the very least not leave a tip.
1. We expect to get what we pay for & pay for what we get
2. We tip in accordance with what the waitress deserves
3. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Fair is fair.
ILLUS: You tell me what’s fair: If someone strikes you, what should you do? Or, more honestly, what do you WANT to do? You want to "hit ’em back!" don’t you? It’s only right isn’t it?
When I was in High School, we played a game of dodge ball in the school gym. It had its own set of rules that everyone seemed to be ignoring. Such as: when a ball rolled up along the bleachers (where all the "out" people were sitting) the ball REALLY SHOULDN’T be kicked back to your own team. But everybody did it anyway. Including me. One time when I did that, another boy named John got mad and threw the ball he had in his hands right at me as hard as he could. I managed to raise my right hand just in time to deflect the shot but ended up jamming two of my fingers in the process. John had turned away, satisfied he had proven his point, but I hadn’t proved mine yet. I jumped up from the bench, ran over to him and bumped in with my right shoulder. He turned around and I decked him with a left.
Everything stood still. John sat, disbelieving, on the floor. I stood seething over him. And everyone else was silently choosing up sides in their minds (I don’t think I’d have done well in the tally - John was fairly well liked, and I was a nerd). It could have turned into a free for all.
Then John did something I never expected - and something that changed my attitude about fighting for ever. He got up, dusted himself off - and walked away. Nobody did that. That wasn’t reasonable. That wasn’t logical. But John proved himself the better man, because he put into practice something of the principle Jesus taught so long ago.