Summary: The Christian has been called demonstrate the power of love in his life by keeping a higher law with respect to the laws of rights and relationships.
THE POWER OF LOVE
In Matthew 5:17 Christ said that he did not "... come to destroy the law or the prophets? but that he came ?to fulfill" it. Christ has often been accused of destroying the law of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christ never taught anything contrary to the law. In fact, He endorsed the law. Look at Matthew 5:19-20 "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.? What Christ condemned was the oral and scribal law, which was a perversion of or a misapplication of God?s law. Christ taught that the spirit of the law is fulfilled through the power of love. In verses 38 through 48, Christ addresses two areas where the law had been misunderstood and misapplied. These areas have abused and misused down through the centuries as people have used them as an excuse to treat others however they wish. But the Christian has been called demonstrate the power of love in his life by keeping a higher law with respect to the laws of rights and relationships.
I. The Law of Rights (Matthew 5:38)
A. The law was given to control unregulated men
1. Exodus 21:24 "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,"
2. Leviticus 24:20 "Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again."
3. Deuteronomy 19:21 "And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
B. The law was given to civil authority to guide the courts in execution of justice. It was not given to individuals to exact vengeance.
C. It limited reparation or punishment to fit the crime.
D. The demonstration of love?s power in the face personal wrongs.
1. A Slap in the face (Matthew 5:39)
a. Right cheek ? had to be backhanded ? insulting
b. The believer is not to retaliate to against the most terrible insults, slights, criticism, rumor, abuse, or contempt.
c. Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging one makes you even with him; forgiving it sets you above him.
d. Consider the example set by Christ - 1 Peter 2:23 "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:"
e. Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
2. The Coat off your back (Matthew 5:40)
a. Coat = tunic ? inner garment / Cloak = outer robe
b. Jewish law allowed a man?s tunic to be taken as a pledge but never the mantle.
c. 1 Corinthians 6:7 "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?"
d. Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
e. Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose. Things pass away.
3. A Second Mile (Matthew 5:41)
a. This law comes from the Persians where a postal courier was authorized the requisition of animals and anything else that he might need to expedite him on his trip.
b. A citizen of a conquered country could be compelled to carry water supplies, anything. Matthew 27:32 "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross."
c. Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
d. In a recent NCAA basketball Final Four playoffs here at Dallas, one of the coaches prior to the game was asked, "Why has your team done so well? What is it about this team that has made it come as far as it has, because everybody wants to know about success?" He said, "We have a motto on our team, and the motto is this: ’Good people do for themselves; great people do for others.’"
4. Give (Matthew 5:42)
a. In contrast with the preceding examples, Christ does not say give a man double of what he asks. ? Reason ? This is a request not compulsion.