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35. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,
28. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other, and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
30. Give to every man that asketh of the; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them.
33. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do the same.
34. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35. But love ye your enemies and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
In my own personal experience and study of scripture, I have always thought that it was much more difficult to preach and practice the teachings of Jesus, than it is the teachings of anyone else in scripture. That may just be some idea of mine, because for some that may not be true. The teachings of Jesus cut across our modern day thinking. Such a cross section seems impossible to get our Christian lives in harmony with what Jesus really teaches. First of all when Jesus says these things, he is making the mt important positive statement about us that he could make. To set forth the possibility of someone living in harmony with the Golden Rule and all of its ramifications, it seems to be the most outstanding concept of our minds, that Jesus is saying by my grace, by my presence and power in your life you can do this, you can live this way. We know that is the only way we could do it. I think that is a great positive statement about you and me, that the Lord says live this way, knowing that by his grace we can live by the teachings of the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.
What we see here are some guidelines that we don’t look at very often. We are more familiar with other commandments and directions and instructions and corrections from other writings of the apostles and the Ten Commandments. Most of these we would have no problem agreeing with these teachings. But I don’t know if we live in the presence of what Jesus is saying here that is all bound in the form of the Golden Rule. I want to study this a moment for I believe that he is saying this truth, that by the grace of God we can live by the teachings of the Golden Rule.
I want us to look at the instructions that are given to us here, then, in the gospel of Luke by Jesus himself to help us and to show us specifically how this is brought about. First of all, He begins with love your enemies and do good to them which hate you. Before I talk about our responsibility to love our enemies, let’s remember that God loves all people even his enemies. He loves all the people of the world. It was an evil, rebellious sinful world that God so loved that he gave his only begotten son. What does it mean for God to love? Well as near as I can come and I’ve studied this over and over again, it seems to me for God to love if for him to bring his divine presence and his divine power, and divine protection, and provisions, his peace, his wonderful plan of salvation to us and bring it to bear upon our lives. That is what it means for God to love. It doesn’t mean that he just has emotions in his heart. You always describe God’s love or you describe Godly love in terms of what it does. It is almost impossible to define the love of God. I’ve never been able to have definition because it seems to me that the only thing you can do is describe it, how it acts. And you know when Paul talks about love in First Corinthians thirteen, he describes it in terms of what it is like and what it is not like and what it does and what it does not do and so forth. That is the best way to define what it means for God to love.
On the other hand, what does it mean for God to hate? It means he takes all the things that we just mentioned, his presence, his power, his provisions, his protection, his peace and he withdraws it from us. This is a fearful kind of thing to consider. If God were to withdraw his protection from off of our lives, a lot of us might be dead before this time next week. If God were to withdraw his presence and we had to do things on our own without his presence and his power and provisions for our lives, where would we be? Where would we turn? How would we make it in this world without God? There are so many pictures of this, examples of this in the Prophets. Read the book of Hosea in particular where God describes through the prophet Hosea what it would be like for God to withdraw and leave them and he said he would return unto his place until they seek me with their whole heart. That just simply means that God would take his blessing and his protection and all that away from Israel. And as a result, Israel would go into captivity of the Assyrians, and Judah likewise would go into Babylonian captivity. When God withdraws, that is a frightful thing.
For you and me to say to God, thy will be done is the most wonderful act of surrender and faith we could ever do. But for God to say to you and me, thy will be done, is the most dreadful thing that ever could happen if he withdrew and left it up to us to just do our own will. Because soon with God out of our minds, with God out of our hearts, with God’s presence and power away from us we would be at loose ends and we would self-destruct in no time at all. I want you to understand what the love of God means, before we start talking about the fact of the provisions and instructions of this message. Because only then can we understand what Jesus says about loving your enemies. Love your enemies and do good to them that hate you. Now without understanding how God loves, I don’t think we can understand exactly how we carry this out. What does this mean to love your enemies? It means to put all the actions of love into practice on behalf of other people, regardless if they are doing you good or not. They may be resisting you and your life and your prayers and your Christianity and all that is about you. They may be true enemies, but he is saying bring to bear against them or upon them all the good things that you can possibly bring to them through prayer and faith and having God living through you, and loving through you and working through your life. You don’t withdraw from them. You don’t withdraw your prayers and blessing. He goes on to say in verses 28-30, bless and curse not. Bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you.
I don’t know if I can fully comprehend what I’m trying to preach tonight because I think that it’s probably some of the deepest things in the word of God. I know it is the most demanding in some respects. Because it is one of the most difficult things in this world, is to keep on blessing people who treat you wrong and who would curse you.
I want us to look at these words ‘blessing’ and ‘cursing’ just for a moment. What does it mean to really bless someone? What does it mean to curse someone? I think it means much the same as what it means for God to love or hate. To bless someone, you keep approaching them in a positive way. I got overwhelmed thinking about this this week. Because it touched my heart in a way I had never seen it like this before. God puts us in a position to bless people, and he makes blessers out of us. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have God-like powers, but he says through his grace and though his love you have within you the ability to bless people even when they are treating you bad. Well, you’ve tried it. I guarantee you I can call on you to raise your hand as a testimony of this kind of experience and I guarantee you there are people in this house who have experienced blessing folks who hated them, who cursed them, who treated them bad and you kept loving. You kept positive attitudes going toward them. You kept the power of the Holy Spirit at work. You kept shooting them with the fiery darts of love and joy and peace and you kept up this glorious power blessing until God touched them and changed them.
I don’t want to get magical here, but I believe this passage is teaching that when you start using faith in a positive way and prayers, and you begin to say bless this person Lord even if he is treating me wrong, and Lord I am blessing him in the name of Jesus Christ and I am pouring forth the love of God upon him and I am going to bless him anyway, then I believe God gets into the arrangements of that kind of activity. It helps you and the other person too. Oftentimes, I’ve closed this service by telling you to turn around and bless somebody. And really believing and meaning that when even when you say the words, that it is meaningful and helpful and that God takes notice of it. But if you just keep living this and keep expressing it through your prayers and your faith and the word of God and just say in the name of Jesus Christ, I bless this person who is mistreating me. And instead of returning the same kind of thing they are giving me, I’m bringing God’s grace and God’s power and God’s love to bear upon their lives in blessing.
There’s a passage that the apostle Peter gives us in First Peter 4:10 and he says for us to be good stewards of the manifold, many-sided, many-faceted grace of God. Being a steward means you have oversight of someone else’s property, you manage it. That’s what a manager or a steward is. A steward in the church is someone who tries to manage the affairs of the church in the fear of God. Peter is saying as every man has received the gift of God, let him use it as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. The property that God has put in our charge to manage and to use for his glory is his grace. What I’m preaching to you tonight I don’t think it’s any heresy, but I’m preaching to you that God brings his abundant grace upon us and we are able to use it in faith to bring blessing and blessing and blessing upon people. Amen!
And on the other hand, if we withdraw it in a sense, we are causing them to be cursed. For example, you remember the problem they had in the Corinthian church and the apostle Paul said I want you to deliver this man unto Satan that he learn not to blaspheme. And he said he did that actually in a case or two, himself. What did he mean? He meant that in the fear of God he withdrew his power of blessing and withdrew the church’s power to bless someone until that person could learn what it was like to have to operate in this world against the power of Satan by himself. And when he does that, when he learns that he is on his own and that he does not have the good will and the blessing of the church, he suddenly discovers how weak he is and how vulnerable he is to the attack of Satan. He learns not to blaspheme and he learns not to do bad. He learns not to render evil for good. He learns his lesson.
Well how many people have learned a lesson that the goodness of God had led them to repentance. Isn’t that what the Bible says? Some people have been so indifferent and so rebellious and yet the goodness of God and the grace of God kept coming to them and he led them to repentance.
Now, I know I’m over my head, but I’m enjoying it, you know! It’s like it’s alright to swim when you can stand up and your feet touch the ground, but when you get way out there and the water is over your head, well it’s a little bit risky. But oh! How beautiful! I pray that God would give us insight into what Jesus is teaching and what He is saying here. Amen!
What does it mean to bless others then and not curse them? It means not only what I’ve said, but it also means to pray for them. Now I want to tell you, friends, I don’t know if we have fully come to understand the unlimited potential in prayer yet. I know some people have. But, oh! If we all could come to understand the absolute irresistible power of God that goes in operation when people pray and hold on to God. So to bless people, you pray for them. Pray for them!
I have had times when I had to have my mood altered in order to pray and bless someone. Jesus said to pray for others who despitefully use you. You don’t go at them venting your feelings and your frustrations and allowing carnality to take over, even though that is what you want to do. You have heard the phrase “don’t get mad, get even” and that is how we feel sometimes. But that is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is saying “don’t get mad, and don’t get even either.” That’s a little tougher, isn't it? You talk about real Christianity. That’s what we’re talking about tonight. Real Christianity means returning goodness and kindness for bad, even for violence. The whole concept of “Pacifism” or suffering for Christ’s sake, or suffering for some good cause that is just and right, is looked down upon by most in this country. When you see Jesus as a lamb, before his shearers is mute and does not open his mouth. It goes beyond my comprehension. The only way to explain it is the overwhelming power of his love for lost humanity is so great that it could overcome any evil that people could do to him. The disciple Stephen shared this same spirit with Jesus that as he was being put to death at the hands of others, he prayed for them and said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Father lay this not to their charge, for if they were thinking right; if they had the light of truth and if they understood you Father and understood your word, then they would know better than to act this way.
How do you bless others? By giving to people who are in need. It is easier to understand blessing people materially and financially and helping. Oh, how beautiful! What I want to tell you tonight is this, when you follow this Golden Rule of treating people the way you would like to be treated, and having the attitude toward other people like the attitude you would like for them to have for you, it really makes a difference, because it says your reward shall be great and you shall be the children of the Highest, the Most High God. This is the way you know that you are a child of God, is if his love, mercy and grace. When you do these actions and ministries of love that demonstrate the love and mercy of the Lord working through your life, Jesus said your reward shall be great and you will be recognized as children of the Most High God.
I think sometimes we can see people who may be great preachers, but if they can’t manifest this love, then we see that there is something severely lacking in their lives. And now and then we might see somebody who mistreats the sheep and they preach good. But you know, it doesn’t matter how great I can preach or great I think I can preach, if I mistreat one of God’s lambs, it just nullifies it all. Amen? I think perhaps that’s our greatest sermons we preach when we allow his grace and his love to flow out of our lives toward others.
First, I’m going to ask you to pray that the Lord will give us understanding of the Golden Rule and then I’d like to ask you to pray that God would help us to live by it. Hallelujah!
Our Father, thank you for your Holy Word. Give us understanding, give us wisdom, and let the Word be revealed into our hearts and minds. Lord Jesus, help us to see you and follow your steps who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Oh God, Lord help us not to be overcome with hatred or vengeance, but Lord help us to put all things in your hands and walk in your gracious love. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Great is your reward!
Dr. May explores the Golden Rule and the fact that it is only by the grace of God we can live by the teachings of the Golden Rule.
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