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The Children of Heaven—Matthew 5:38–48

Friday, October 28, 2011, 6:00
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The Children of Heaven

November 13, 2011

Lesson: Matthew 5:38–48

Key Verse: Matthew 5:44

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Introduction

Today’s lesson covers some of the thoughts of Matthew, chapter five, from the previous lesson. May the Spirit continue to teach us as we grow in His Word; the emphasis being on the love which our Lord has manifested to us and in us. This love is not of the world; theirs is self-centered and puffed up. The love that the world teaches is the erotic love of the sit-coms and soap operas. At best, it may offer the Philadelphia love of friendship. Both these kinds of love are dependent upon the situation of the moment. The love that can be both powerful and lasting is the love of which our Lord is speaking when He says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and may persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). This Greek word for love is ‘Agapao,’ signifying an act or direction of the will, whereby one finds joy in all that he faces. In comparison, friendship-love or ‘phileo,’ reveals contentment, being friendly because of common interests. Agapao (love) is used of God’s love toward man and man’s love toward God. Phileo (friendship love) is never used of man’s love toward God, and it is never used of man’s ‘love’ toward his enemies. We are to love (Agapao) our enemies. This is an act of the will of the Christian toward those who would hate us or persecute us.

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Resist not Evil—Matthew 5:38–42

Our Lord continues His message on the mountain, saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” He gives the example of being sued for your coat, and of giving to that person your cloak also; that if you’re compelled to go one mile, go the second mile as well. Our Lord expresses the spirit of love by saying, “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.”

These words of our Lord are not a repudiation of the commands of the Old Testament Scripture: “And if any mischief follow thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Ex. 21:23–25). Justice must be maintained. Righteousness must prevail if a nation is to be blessed. The righteous King still reigns.

Our Lord is telling His disciples that they are not to be disobedient to the authority that rules. They are not to take vengeance upon rightful authority, even if they abuse that right. Unless, of course, if it is a blatant attack upon the law and rights of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The authority—parents, bosses, governor, president—is under direct responsibility of King Jesus: “under God”! There is a limit that the citizen has in taking the law into his own hands. Scripture teaches us that vengeance belongs to the Lord. “Recompense to no man evil for evil, provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:17–19).

Therefore if the authority (Roman soldier, for instance) compels the disciple to go a mile with him, honor him by going two. If the government tells us to stay fifteen feet from an abortion clinic, let us stay 20 feet away. Bombing clinics is not our prerogative. We must give glory to the King by our actions. Let us continue to impress the Gospel upon wickedness. If the Christian nurse is pressured to take part in an abortion, let her stand firm in the Gospel and refuse. If she loses her job, let the congregation of our King support her financially and spiritually. Let us pray also that the appointed authority will obey the King and revise their thinking on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, etc.

Discussion: What is our responsibility toward the authority above us?

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Children of the Father—Matthew 5:43–48

What is the motivation, both to obey the authorities who are under the Lordship of Jesus and to obey Christ’s command?—“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” The motivation is this, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

There are at least three thoughts here that help us obey this seemingly hard command of the Lord. One is that of love. This is that Agapao-love of which we spoke in the introduction. This is the love that fulfills the Law of God. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. This is the will of man set free in Christ to obey the Law of God. This love wills the best for everyone, even the enemy. This love does not yoke us with the enemy, such as, compromising truth with the lies of the humanist. However, this love demands that we feed him when he is hungry, and sees to it that our enemies are also treated justly and righteously.

The second thought focuses on the truth that we are children of our Father in heaven. We are members of the body of Christ, children of our Father’s righteous household, bearing His name, etc. We are to act in accord with our new nature, which is made after the image of Christ. To act in an unrighteous, unjust, or unloving manner, in any situation, speaks wrongly of our King and Savior.

The third thought is of our Father in heaven. How does our Father act? He directs the sun to rise on the evil persons as well as on the good persons. He sends rain on the just and unjust. The righteous in Christ and the wicked, who oppose their Creator, are blessed with much goodness from the hand of God. He blesses the field of the wicked farmer as well as the good farmer.

Our lord reminds us that it is easy to love someone you like; the wicked do the same. Our love is to rise above the love which comes easily between friends. Our love is to be that of the Father who has so loved us that He sent His Son to save us from our sins. He loved us while we were yet His enemies. His Son shed His blood that we would be delivered from darkness to His everlasting light. Therefore, let our love be so perfected. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Discussion: How are we to act as children of our Father in Heaven?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2011 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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