MATTHEW 5:47_And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
What is your first instinct when someone offends you? The silent treatment, right? “I won’t say anything mean – I just won’t say anything at all. As a matter of fact, I’ll never speak to them again!” Do you know there are actually people who live years without speaking to one another? Sadly, there are even those who go to their graves holding a grudge they never made an effort to resolve.
Matthew 18:18 (KJV), “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
I’m not taking any chances! I don’t want anyone going to heaven tied up in cords I placed on them because I was offended in some way. I want to loose grudge-holding cords in this life. I want to send the people in my life to heaven free from my grudges!
If I don’t loose any and all cords of bitterness, Jesus says I’m not doing anything radical. No more than a non-Christian. Not setting an example. Not being salt and light. Nothing about me attracts the lost and the searchers.
Stay with me and see how Christ completes this part of His power-packed sermon!
Lord Jesus, Please don’t let me bind anyone, but free all who hurt me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ does not bind anyone—I must not either!
MATTHEW 5:46_For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?
We like rewards, especially when we have worked hard to receive them. We like to see an accomplishment receive its due credit.
In the kingdom of heaven, we don’t necessarily work to be rewarded – but God does use that system. Our work for God is to love His people by being salt and light in a dark and thirsting world. The fact that God rewards us for that is a blessing.
Just because we love those who love us does not win a blue ribbon. Jesus said even tax collectors (publicans) can do that. Let’s take a moment and clarify tax collectors. In case either or both of your parents work for the IRS, don’t think they are the chief of sinners. During Jesus’ earth time, Israel was occupied by the Romans. The Romans demanded taxes from the Israelites. Tax collectors were considered enemies. Hebrews who worked for the Roman government to collect taxes from their fellow neighbors were considered traitors. Rome allowed the Hebrew tax collectors to charge extra for themselves (under the table). Therefore, if Jesus wanted to leave a graphic image of the worst of sinners, tax collectors were a good choice. Jesus says even bad or weak people can love those who love them.
And for the record, Jesus taught to pay taxes – even they went to Caesar. But He did not defend the Hebrew who stole extra tax money.
Returning good for evil leaves a salty residue.
God of Love, Please don’t let my love be weak, let it be powerful. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ loves those who don’t love Him—He helps me to!
MATTHEW 5:45_for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendest rain on the just and on the unjust.
I can’t say this too many times: God understands the kind of struggles we face in our earthly life. He knows our enemy, the devil, is subtle. God knows the devil’s power to deceive and to persuade. We face the devil daily. Without the Holy Spirit we don’t stand a chance.
Courage and power are available for us. Power comes through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants this for everyone, but some turn away.
According to what Jesus teaches, God loves the evil and the unjust. He gives them a new chance every day the sun rises. God sends rain on the crops of the evil, the same as on the crops of the just. He gives the unjust the same chance He gives the just. That’s the kind of heart God has, but it’s not the kind of heart we have – unless we allow The Great Surgeon to operate.
If God rejected those who hurt Him as easily as we reject those who hurt us – no one would be saved.
As our heart begins to transform, we become shining lights to those searching for Jesus. Our saltiness will cause someone to thirst for truth – real truth.
Dear God, Teach me how to love the unjust. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ’s heart cares for the unjust—He helps me to care!
MATTHEW 5:45_That you may be children of your Father which is in heaven…
If you listen to him, the devil will convince you the Christian life is too hard. No one can keep all these commandments. And there’s doom if you don’t!
The only way to keep from falling for the devil’s deceptions is to know the truth!
Christianity is not about keeping a bunch of laws. It is about a new, born again life with Jesus. Get into God’s family. Be confident that you are a child of your Father in heaven. Ask Jesus into your heart. You’ll automatically receive the bonus of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you. Any commandment/law keeping is the Spirit’s job.
How does that work?
Remember that open heart surgery? The Spirit changes your desires by creating in you a deeper love of Jesus and His teachings. Love is not about making yourself good. It is about the Spirit producing stronger desires for righteousness, and the desires for unrighteousness losing their grip.
Psalm 23:3 (KJV), “… he [the Lord] restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
How do you get to the righteous paths? God leads you.
Why? For His name’s sake!
Father in Heaven, Praise You for leading me where I need to go! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ has the power to change me—He will do it!
MATTHEW 5:44_and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
Don’t you hate it when someone uses you? Whether they’ve used you for their political gain, or personal pleasure, you’ve been violated. Someone you trusted took advantage of your trust and used it to better themselves. Now they despise you. That’s because they suffer from guilt, and blame you. So, whenever they have the opportunity they persecute you.
Pray for them. Try not to be hurt by them, but hurt for them. They are suffering. Guilt overwhems their emotions. You can’t despise and persecute someone without it causing you more turmoil than it does them. Count on that!
Pray for God to help and heal them. Pray for them to respond to Jesus’ unconditional love, and accept it. Pray for them to allow The Great Transformer to set them free.
Set your heart in the forgiveness mode. Hurt for them. When you pray God reads your heart far more than hears your words. A hurting heart attracts and keeps God’s attention. When a heart hurts more for others than for itself, it may attract God even more.
Father of Compassion, I don’t want to hold grudges. I want You to help the ones who persecute me and set them free. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ reads my heart—He will give it compassion!