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July 17

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:43-48

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

by Tommy Sanders

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

Jesus asked questions to cause us to think, ponder, and draw life-altering conclusions. Our question for today is in the middle of His teaching on how to treat our enemies and those who act badly towards us. The teaching is in the first chapter of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5. It is the last of the teachings that begin with, “You have heard that it was said,” where Jesus gives the popular practice or thought about an issue and then contrasts it with, “But I tell you.”

As you go about your daily life, who are your “enemies”? Are they political—Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians? Our political climate has been especially adversarial since the election. What about Islamic terrorists, illegal immigrants or LGBT’s? Are they religious—Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.? Maybe you have personal enemies, those who treat you disrespectfully or take credit for your work. What if one of those mentioned whom you consider an enemy has a need? What informs your actions? How will you respond?

Jesus asks His question and then paints a picture. If you love those who love you, are not EVEN the tax collectors for the Roman occupation doing that? If you welcome only your friends, do not EVEN the unclean Gentile outsiders do that? Notice that His examples are “enemies” they hated or avoided contact with. So, what is the answer to His question? What reward should you expect if your actions are just like those you consider your enemies?

Now to the “But I tell you” part. Some have called the Sermon on the Mount the Christian Manifesto. Here Jesus lays out the beliefs, practices and values for life as a citizen in the Kingdom of God. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Do that, and you will be sons of your Father. He is good to and provides for all, no matter whether they are good or evil, righteous or unrighteous.

Therefore, as children of your heavenly Father, live like Him in your actions toward all. Your enemy is also your neighbor to love as yourself. 

Praxis

  1. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV), Jesus says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“ As you ponder the teaching this morning, consider “You have heard it said” as being the broad road. Everyone does it. Then consider, “But I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as being the narrow road. Note where they lead. What is the word of the Kingdom that God’s Spirit is speaking to you today?
  2. What have you understood about God your Father and about representing Him by how you live today as His child?

Tommy Sanders

Spouse: Carol
Children: Jennifer Harvey, Sara Archer, Susanne Morton
Occupation: Retired Custom Home Builder
Current Service at Brentwood Baptist Church (including its campuses): Deacon at West Franklin, PLACE Coach, Trustee
 
Past Service at Brentwood Baptist: Deacon, Member of Missions Team, Teacher, Interim Elder, Transition Team West Franklin/Brentwood Merger
 
Statement of Faith: I was brought up by a godly mother and at the age of ten I made a profession of faith. My adult life I have sought to follow Christ and His leading using the talents and gifts He has given me in various ministry opportunities. He has blessed me to see and understand the Kingdom of God in light of the parables of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price.