November 21, 1999

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Do unto others, even though others do unto you.


Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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 persecute you; 45 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.

Last week, we looked at Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

This week I would like to look at what to do if others do not fulfill the law and prophets toward us. We live in a pagan society, and it seems to be getting more and more pagan. Though church attendance is growing, it seems that it is just church attendance. I have not yet seen an increase in Christian influence in the general population.

People claim to be Christians, but you had better watch your money and your back while you are around them. Over the years, I have found the same thing that many of you have found - the unsaved act more like Christians than many Christians do.

I had a professed Christian promise this church something, but when it came time to fulfill that promise, the person chose to go with the money with no explanation to us what he was doing. That is far too typical.

Living in a Church going, pagan society, we can expect to be treated badly. Rather than being "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," it is many times, "Do unto others before they can do unto you."

So let's look at a few things this morning.

Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Obviously, this passage was given to Israel of old. But let us not think that the Lord has a lower standard for those under grace than he did for those under law.

The point here is that we must learn to do well. Doing well, or right according to God's word, is not something that comes naturally. It is something that must be learned, and the lessons are usually found in the "school of hard knocks." The longer it takes us to learn to do well, the longer will remain in that "school."

We must learn to do well toward one another, and we must learn to do well when others do unto us things that violate Scripture.

So our text this morning will be,

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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 persecute you; 45 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.

Ye have heard, and we can say here with no harm to the context, Ye have heard in your own heart that you must hate those who do you wrong.

However, the Lord tells us how we are to respond toward those who do or speak wrong against us, and this is a lesson which must be learned in the "School of Hard Knocks." [Note here that the Lord is speaking on a personal, not national, level.] He gives 4 points in dealing with our neighbour:

First, he gives a general statement: love your enemies; then he gives 3 examples as to how to love our enemies:

1. blessing for a curse,

2. good for the evil and

3. prayer for persecutors.

Enemy refers to anyone we find odious, hateful, or someone who is hostile toward us. An enemy might be someone we just don't like to be around. The enemy here is on a personal level, and is defined as one who cursesus, hates us and despitefully uses and persecutes us. This passage assumes that we are living for the Lord, so the evil the person is doing toward us is uncalled for - as far as we know, we have done nothing to bring on what they are saying about us or doing to us.

We find the enemy very unappealing, and we would much rather mark them off from the number of people we know. In fact, we wish we could forget all about them.

Love our enemies

Note that the Lord Jesus in no way identifies love for our neighbour with any kind of emotion toward him; rather, the Lord is clearly referring to our actions toward that one who is giving us great difficulty. In other words, Jesus, in very practical terms, tells us how to love our enemies.

Love for our neighbour is one of the most repeated commands of Scripture. Not only Christ, but every New Testament authour refers to the Old Testament law of love:

Lev 19:18, Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

Matthew 5:44, the Lord illustrates how we must love our neighbour. We cannot allow personal feelings to control how we act toward others. We must always keep a godly attitude, no matter how ungodly they act toward us.

First, love counters cursing with blessing. Bless is the opposite of curse or slander, and means to speak well ofor speak nicely to a person. Bless also includes if there is no good to speak of, keep quiet.

It is important to note that the word bless does not speak of asking God's blessings upon the ungodly. We cannot ask God to bless the unsaved, but we sure clan plead with him for their salvation.

Nor can we ask God to bless those who are living outside of obedience to His word. How can we ask God to bless ungodliness, when, in fact, God's curse is against their wicked activity? Rather than asking God's blessing upon the ungodly, we should be asking for God's cures against their ungodliness because it is by judgment against their sin that they will repent.

Curse... this implies harsh language. Remember, the Lord is dealing on a personal level. He is not dealing with proper response to wickedness in high places, although even against the wicked in authority, we cannot allow our emotions to control our words or actions. We must have every thought and action under control of God's law-word at all times.

The person speaks harshly toward us personally or harshly about us to others. How are we to respond to those with nothing but evil to say about or to us? We are not to answer railing with railing, nor evil with evil, nor are we to try to get even with them by speaking bad about them. We cannot argue back with them.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

No matter how badly they speak to us or about us, we must not allow our emotions to get out of hand; we must not allow our tongue to get out of control; we must not try to retaliate with our words. We are to speak nothing but good about those slandering us, and if we have nothing good to say about them, keep quiet.

Second, love counters hatred with good works. Hate implies malice -- desire to injure someone.

The Lord commands us to do good in the face of hatred. He tells us that we must act in a kind way to everyone no matter how they treat us as individuals. No matter how much we might want to get even with those who are speaking or acting badly toward us, we must still love him. We must still do for him what is required of us by the Lord.

Exodus 23:4, 5, If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

We are never relieved of our godly responsibility toward any one, no matter what kind of a conflict we may have with that person. It would not hurt us to look for something good to do for those who desire to do us harm, or to injure us.

Third, love counters persecution and spitfullness with prayer.

Spiteful implies to insult, treat abusively, use despitefully, or to revile someone, or threaten someone.

This person is serious about harming the Christian. In fact, connected with spiteful use is persecute, which means to harass, trouble, molest. Persecuted refers to being maltreated on account of something. And of course, persecuted or spitefully used means that we are innocent ourselves - we have done nothing to bring on the harsh treatment.

If we try to do any more than pray for these people, it will be misunderstood and used against us. So we see here that there are times that Christian love avoids certain people. If they treats us abusively and uses us in a insulting way because of our faith, Christ tells us to avoid them and pray for them. By avoid, we are not implying that if we meet them on the street, we should cross over to the other side. Even the ones who persecute and treat us spitefully, must be treated in a Christian attitude.

2 John 10, If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

All of St John's books emphasize love -- love toward God, love toward man. But the "Loving" Apostle said that those who are the enemies of the gospel, those who are actively promoting a gospel contrary to the gospel of grace are to be avoided. They are not to be permitted into our homes to promote their false doctrine because they are open enemies of God.

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

The Christian is never allowed to retaliate in words, deeds or even thoughts toward those who may do him wrong. We must be controlled at all times by the indwelling Spirit of God, which results in a Christian attitude all the time.

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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 persecute you; 45 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.

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