Summary: We must be more concerned with showing the generous love of God than with receiving proper treatment from others. Gracious people... are willing to accept insults, value people more than things, are willing to serve beyond obligation, are willing to give
The Generosity of Grace
Intro: One winter day a man went shopping at the local neighborhood mall. When he returned to his car he noticed a rather foul odor coming from under the hood and so he checked the engine. In the compartment he discovered a dead cat rather mutilated from being caught in the fan belt. The poor cat had sought shelter from the snow and cold and didn’t realize the dangers of resting on the engine block. Mr. Jones was lucky though, one of his shopping bags was made of plastic and so he emptied its contents and proceeded to scrape, pull and push the cat corpse into the bag. With a bang he slammed the hood down and walked off to wash his hands, but looking back he noticed something unusual. He had left the bag on the hood of the car. He was about to return and pick it up but just then a lady walks by, looks suspiciously in both directions, she grabs the bag, and with her cart she then speeds off for the mall. "Well this is too good to be true!" The man thought as he laughed at the lady. He decided to follow her and see what would happen next. She went to a restaurant and proceeded to survey her prize. "Yeek!" She screamed as she looked in the bag. And then over she fell. Of course, the management was equally alarmed that a customer had fainted in their establishment and so they called the paramedics. The woman in no time at all was strapped to a cart and ready to be hauled off to the ambulance. But the man couldn’t resist. "Hey lady!" He shouted, "Don’t forget your package!" And with that he gently laid the cat corpse filled bag on the lady’s chest, just as the ambulance doors were closing!
-Sometimes, revenge seems really sweet. So, why would Jesus make such outrageous statements as the ones found in these verses? It sounds like He is saying, “Just lie down and die. Just take whatever is dished out to you. Be a doormat for people to walk on. Let people abuse you and degrade you in any way they choose.” However, Jesus is again using a common method of speaking called hyperbole. Hyperbole is exaggeration to prove a point. A few verses ago Jesus was talking about gouging out your own eye and cutting off your right hand to avoid sinning. He was using hyperbole, exaggeration for the sake of making an important point – STAY AWAY FROM SIN!
-In today’s passage I believe we can see some hyperbole, but that doesn’t mean that we are off the hook. Sometimes it is too easy for us to say, “Oh! I see your point. Well said.” We pat ourselves on the back for our depth of understanding, but then go off and forget to apply what we’ve heard to the way we live.
-To be a strict literalist with these verses would be to contradict some of the other teachings of Jesus, as well as some of Paul’s teachings. It might help us know how to apply this teaching if we understand that Jesus was dealing with issues of His day. Remember that Jesus and His audience were Jews and that Christ was addressing the hot issues and controversies of the day, including how to apply the Old Testament Law to that day and age. As we will see, Jesus is trying to help His listeners see that they do not need to cash in on their legal rights at the expense of their witness. In fact, not availing ourselves of all our rights may provide opportunities for others to see an accurate picture of the good and generous nature of God! Maybe another way of saying this is ”Don’t be stingy with God’s grace.”
-The bottom line principle of what Jesus was saying in this passage is this:
Prop: We must be more concerned with showing the generous love of God than with receiving proper treatment from others.
I. Gracious people are willing to accept insults
38 "You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
-In nearly every culture, a slap in the face is the ultimate insult. The Mishnah (Jewish traditions based on Torah) has this to say about injury and insult: If anyone wounds his fellow, he becomes liable to compensate the injured party for five different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult....
-During the time of Jesus, Jewish rabbis were debating this fifth point of compensation, namely, compensation for insult. Let’s say somebody insulted you by slapping you (possibly with the back of the hand since most people are right handed, or with the unclean left hand in that culture). Could you take them to court and get some money out of them? Jesus said NO, but the rabbis apparently said YES because this became part of the Mishnah sometime in the 2nd century AD.