SERMON ON THE MOUNT

 

Matthew 5:43-48

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

#15 - SERMON ON THE MOUNT

 

And all too often we too need attitude adjustments when it comes to the way we feel towards and treat those with whom we are at odds.

As we conclude Matthew 5 in our series on The Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus telling us that we need an attitude adjustment towards them with whom we dislike.

 

AN HONEST APPRAISAL – Vs. 43

 

Vs. 43 - Jesus tells His audience what the teaching of the day was. Those listening would have related to what Jesus said, because they had heard it often before.

The Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day taught that neighbors should be loved and enemies hated.

 

For starters, the average Jew had two enemies.

His first enemy was the Gentile, or the non-Jew. Even the half-breed Samaritans were hated.  Of course this hatred would especially include the Romans who had rule over their land at this time.

 

The other enemy was anyone who was a publican or tax collector, or who did not adhere to following the law.  Those Jews who collected taxes for the Romans were considered traitors.  And to make matters worse, the tax collectors were often dishonest.

 

The Old Testament definitely stated that the Jew was to love his neighbor. Leviticus 19:18

It is interesting that the Jews in Jesus’ day left two words out from their saying of “Thou shalt love thy neighbor”. They left out the words, “As thyself”. 

 

And, as we have just shown, the Jews had a very narrow idea as to who that neighbor was.  To them, the only people that they needed to love as their neighbor were those fellow Jews who followed the Law.

 

Today many people have a similar view concerning who they should love.  Many feel that they should love those whom they know and like.

Nobody else needs to be loved to the point that they would go out of their way to help a person.  

 

Let me warn you against having too narrow a view as to who your neighbor is. Consider the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-27

 

Jesus gives an honest appraisal of the teaching of his day. They were taught to love their neighbors and hate their enemies.  But now Jesus gives a:

 

A HIGHER STANDARD – Vs. 44

 

Vs. 44 - If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Lord Jesus expects you to live by a higher standard than others. His higher standard is to even love your enemy.

The principle of loving one’s enemy, was not new, but was ignored.  It is taught in the Old Testament. Exodus 23:4-5

It is good that we express love in words, but more importantly we are to express love by our actions.

 

When we take care of the physical concerns of our enemies, we are saying by our actions, “I love you”.  And don’t wait for feelings of love towards someone before you take action. Take the action that love would take, and the feelings just might come later.

 

I see somewhat of a formula in Jesus’ words in Vs. 44.

How is it that you need to have an “Attitude Adjustment” towards?

 

1.  Chose to love the person, no matter how you feel.

2.  Bless the person. You can bless them verbally by speaking well of them when you can, and

     by asking God to bless them. You can bless them physically by showing kindness towards

     them.

3.  Do good towards the person whenever you can.  That may mean helping the person do

     something or meeting one of the person’s needs.

4.  Pray for them.  If the person is not saved, pray that he or she will be saved. If the person is  

     saved, ask God to help him or her grow in the likeness of Christ.

 

And remember this: that person will answer to God for how he has or hasn’t loved you.

But you will answer to God for how much you have or haven’t loved your enemy.

 

A HEAVENLY EXAMPLE – Vss. 45

 

Vs. 45 - Is Jesus saying that if you love your neighbor you will become children of God?

No, He is not saying that.

Jesus is saying that when you love your neighbor, you are showing who your Heavenly Father is, because you are acting just like Him.

 

Many of you are gardeners.

When the sun comes up in the morning, whose garden does it shine on?

Does the sun just shine on your garden, or does it shine on everybody’s garden?

It doesn’t matter whether it is a righteous man or an unrighteous man who owns the garden, God’s sun shines on all.

 

The same is true of the rain. When it rains it rains on everyone’s garden, whether the person is righteous or unrighteous.

 

These are just two of the many blessings that God sends on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

 

God blesses those who are evil and those who are good.

Do you?

God helps those who are evil and those who are good.

Do you?

God blesses those who curse Him and those who bless Him.

Do you?

It is time for us to follow our Heavenly example and to act as if we are God’s children.

  

A HEART-WRECHING QUESTION – Vss. 46-47

 

As Christians who know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we should be living by a higher standard. Matthew 5:46-47

 

The publicans, tax collectors were considered great sinners.

Even those that we consider sinners, love, greet, and take care of their own.   

We are doing nothing uncommon or worthy of commendation when we love and greet those who love and greet us!

 

Christian, you can’t earn your way into Heaven.

But, Christian, you show that you are a Christian by the way you behave.

God has promised judgment and reward to each Christian. 2 Corinthians 5:10

 

Don’t expect reward for loving and greeting those who love and greet you.

Expect reward for loving and greeting those who don’t love or greet you.

So, here’s the heart-wrenching question, “How much better are you than the average non-Christian?”

You are no better than the heathen if you just greet and love those who greet and love you!

 

A HOPEFUL CHALLENGE – Vs. 48

 

Vs. 48 - I call this a hopeful challenge because God will not ask me to do anything that is impossible.    It may well be impossible for me to do it myself, but with God, nothing is impossible!

 

We know that we cannot be perfect, that is sinless, as God is sinless.  However, as we just saw, as Christians we are to be imitators of our Heavenly Father. Ephesians 5:1, 1 John 2:6

 

As I abide in the Lord Jesus, that is stay close to Him through the scriptures and prayer, I will walk as He walked.

I will be an imitator of God.  

 

When Jesus tells you and I to be perfect here in Matthew 5:48, He is referring to how we treat our enemies.

It is impossible for us in our own power to truly treat our enemies well, but when we rely on God’s power, we can bless our enemies just like God blesses His.