Summary: The Sixth Commandment calls us not to be minimalists when it comes to demonstrating the love of Jesus to others.
Matthew 5:21-26; 43-48
“The Power of Love”
Humans are interesting creatures aren’t they? On the one hand we mostly want to be seen as being good people who are doing the right thing and who make a positive contribution to the community. On the other hand – in order to achieve this goal – we often try and do as little as possible.
We do it at school – just doing enough to make it. Sometimes being very distracted.
We do it at University – “P’s” mean degrees!
We do it at work – cutting corners to get to deadlines so we don’t look bad.
We do it at home – just doing enough to keep things running.
What we are is minimalists.
We are not always like that but we can be. Doing the least amount we can – but still doing enough to make ourselves look good.
The problem is that we also have a tendency to take this attitude into our spiritual lives as well. Let me show you what I mean – and we will take the 5th commandment as an example.
In the original language the 6th commandment is stated in only two words … in English it only takes four words You shall not murder.
It sounds simple enough doesn’t it.
Just avoid taking someone’s life and you haven’t murdered them.
We are all good. Except we are not.
Read Matthew 5:21-22
You have heard that it was said …
But I say.
There is this huge contrast between what was happening – and how people were supposed to actually act. The reason for this contrast is seen by having a closer look at the context.
You have heard that it was said.
Who have they heard?
Well in verse 20 Jesus talks about the righteousness of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees and Jesus were not friends.
Which was kind of strange because everyone else at the time believed the Pharisees where good hard working people. They were often leaders who were held in high regard. They were very committed to God and to the Jewish community. They took the word of God seriously.
But the Pharisees had a way of using the Word of God so as to make themselves look good.
They used the Word of God as a set of rules.
Then around those rules they made other rules.
And when other people didn’t meet that standard the Pharisees would judge them as being less holy.
And Jesus takes the approach of these guys and makes it very clear that they are not acting in the way God wants them to.
We get a really good example of how they function by going down to Matthew 5:43
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”
You can sit and read through your whole Bible and you will not find the phrase “hate your enemy”.
So how come the Pharisees were teaching the people to “Love their neighbour and hate their enemy?” Well it was an interpretation of
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.
There it is in Scripture - love your neighbour. But where does the “hate your enemy” part come from? It works like this:-.
(Give a Rabbi teaching voice)
God’s Word says, love your neighbour. But who is your neighbour? Well the Lord doesn’t leave us in the dark about this for Leviticus 19:18 says do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people. Did you see it? The application of this text is towards one of your people!!
That means your neighbour must be one of your fellow Jews … for he is one of your people. Now notice it doesn’t say anything about loving strangers and enemies. So when God tells you to love your neighbour that must mean you do the opposite for everyone else. To love your neighbour means to hate your enemy.
That’s how the teaching of the Pharisees worked.
So, when you are reading through Matthew 5:20-48 there is an important interpretative issue to keep in mind.
In Matthew 5 when Jesus starts a sentence with, “You have heard it said”
He is not saying, "this is the Word of God".
Rather “You have heard it said” is an indicator that the Pharisees have twisted the Word of God in some way.
So, definitely the Scriptures say:-
Do not murder … as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 5:21.
Do not commit adultery … as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 5:27.
Love your neighbour … as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 5:43.
But when the Pharisees consider the meaning of these Old Testament passages they do not teach the full situation correctly.