Be Children of God

Matt 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


  1. An Eye for an Eye


  1. This sets a limit, not a requirement


                Justice is a good thing. Do justly!

Leviticus 24:

17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. 21 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.”


But it’s not: “You stole my stuff, I’m gonna shoot you!” We’ve had that in our community in the past few years. And the feelings I relate to, but we can’t go there! It leads to more disaster!! It’s not: “You are going to divorce me, I am going to destroy you!” We have had this also in our community in the past few years. Probably the only reason we know of these two instances is because the people were more prominent members of the community, but the escalation of action because of emotion is common in people in general. An eye for an eye is a limit on that. But it is NOT a command.


  1. Mercy requires a debt

Blessed are the merciful!


There are many different positive character qualities that require overlooking offenses or waiting out afflictions. Patience, kindness, forgiveness, and mercy for example. Love covers a multitude of sins.


Why is this necessary? Because justice in all things is VERY cumbersome! Life is not fair. But justice is good. The passage of scripture in Micah 6 is remarkably instructive. This is one of those Scriptures like “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is foundational!


“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with[a] thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”


What does God want from me? I have a sin problem. I do not keep God’s law of love toward God and I do not keep it toward my neighbor. What do I need to do? Well, I can try and balance the scale by making a sacrifice for my sins to God. 1000’s of rams and rivers of oil. This is a person who has a firm grasp on their own weaknesses! But God does not need the sacrifices! What does He want?

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love mercy,

and to walk humbly with your God?


Blessed are the poor in spirit

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are the merciful.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake!


  1. Examples of debts


Insults. Turn the other cheek.


Being sued. Legal harassment.


Forced to serve the Roman army. Historically armies were   supplied by taking from people as they went. Logistics are     difficult!


Somebody borrowing: This is an unnatural thing. Why do you      need to borrow? What have you done wrong?


Somebody begging: Basically the same thing.


You don’t owe these people anything! They owe you. What is         forgiveness? It is turning loose of a debt that is owed to you.


But you do owe God everything. And the main thing that you owe         God today is His image in you! This is where this    passage is headed!


If we had people treating us like this, then we would, well I would anyway, quickly consider them to be my enemy. It would be only natural to hate them, and to be against them. Just think about politics!


  1. The enemy camp is to be small

There are people that I will naturally hate! Who do I get to nurture that feeling toward?

So, Jesus naturally transitions to talking about enemies.



  1. Love Enemies Too!


We have already pointed out that it is difficult to love people in general. There is no anger nurturing, no lust nurturing, no truth shading allowed. We are to treat others in the manner that we would like to be treated by them! So, what are we to do?


  1. Hatred toward others is not God’s will

Surely you understand that there are reasons to hate people.


People are selfish, they steal your time, energy, talent, money, affection and they use it for whatever little pitiful thing they feel at the time.

There are plenty of reasons to hate other people. There are reasons that we live in separate houses and only gather briefly.


Frank and Patty Goff finding their clothes discarded by people on the mission field.


Life is not fair, and the anger that you feel as a result of living in a sinful world is correct. But, what are we to do?


  1. In addition to friends, love enemies


I pray that you will not have many enemies in life, but if you do and you want to learn what God is like, then love them! Treat them with patience, kindness and consideration. Bear the cost of their bad behavior toward you and don’t cut them off and give them over. Don’t demand an eye for an eye!


There is a time to defend your family and protect your family.

There is a time for war, according to Ecclesiastes, but that is a rare time and that is not where we start. In fact, if we were to love and forgive as a starting point, I find it hard to believe we will get there!


The story about the Amish schoolhouse shooting. Show it.  26 seconds in to begin



Pray for your enemies. And not just imprecatory Psalms!

We are better off without enemies. And if we communicate with other people we will find it hard to demonize them.



  1. Requirements for being God’s children

We are people of faith. We are called to the Cross, first so that we might die and then that we might live. But the Cross comes first, it comes before life. We have to have faith to invest ourselves in the Cross!


We claim to believe that God is at work not only in our lives but in our world. We claim to believe that but claims are not believing. Action and reliance are what make faith real.


God is our Father. We are to be like Him. This is one of the reasons God tells us to call Him Father. We are more than tax collectors and pagans!


And the death that we experience to our own desires to people that irritate us at work, to people who cut us off in traffic, to people who lie to us and wound us without provocation, that is our Cross, and that will become a source of life.


Like action begets like action.

Story of the “Killing Birds” a horrible anthropology film where lives are based upon killing and revenge and death and that is what they got more and more of. What is the solution?


  1. God loves the unrighteous and they remain unrighteous

Jesus hung on the cross and forgave people who made fun of Him for dying for them. He recognized that they did not know what they were doing. He recognized that they were trapped by their own personal desires and sins. And He forgave. If He were concerned that everyone got what they deserved, then all would be in hell and He would be in heaven alone.

This is you at some point in your life. I decided to ask Jesus to forgive my sins when I was five years old. I have sinned much more since then. I am more and more aware of my selfishness, my impatience, my pride etc. God has put up with a lot from me. And…


  1. We are to be like God

Jesus hung on the cross and forgave people who made fun of Him for dying for them. He recognized that they did not know what they were doing. He recognized that they were trapped by their own personal desires and sins. And He forgave. If He were concerned that everyone got what they deserved, then all would be in hell and He would be in heaven alone.


We live in a world created by God with so much potential to be great and good. We can reflect His glory and honor Him with the gifts and abilities that He has given to each one of us. But sin is also in this world. And sin seeks to mar the greatness and goodness in this world. Sin seeks to make us war with one another. And for people who do not follow Christ, they will make war with us. Blessed are the persecuted. But we are not to war back. Our life does not come from bread alone! Our life comes from God who is the giver of life. Our life comes from Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!


I am sure that in the process of this message today that a person or an event has come to your mind that you need to forgive. God may even have shown you that you need to ask someone for forgiveness. This is your time to trust. This is your time to embrace your heavenly Father and say “Yes. I will be like you!” I will forgive. It’s not easy. And just because you do it once doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do it over and over again. Eventually you will learn to love mercy. I promise you that. Because you will learn to feed on that which gives true life indeed and that is the Holy Spirit in you.