Sunday, February 19, 2017

Matthew 5:38-48

I know that you’ve been taught the ancient law of retaliation. It’s even a part of our own law in Exodus 21:24; limit yourselves to an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39 But my instruction to you is to take this matter to the next level and skip retaliation altogether. If someone does something mean to you don’t even try to get even with that person. For example, if someone insults you with a slap to the right cheek, turn your face so he can slap your left cheek as well. 40 Or, let’s say that someone takes you into court and sues you for your shirt. Don’t just begrudgingly hand it over; voluntarily hand him your coat, as well. 41 A soldier is well within his legal right to force you to carry his pack for one mile. If he does that, go on with him and carry it an extra mile. 42 And what about the people who ask you for stuff? Your natural reaction should be to give. When they want to borrow -- lend! Live generously!

43 People commonly say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I am telling you to take love to the next level and love your enemies, too. If anyone mistreats you, pray for them. 45 When you do this, you will be acting like your Father in heaven. Doesn’t he make the sun shine on both good and bad people? Does he restrict the blessing of rain only to people who live rightly? Both the good and the bad receive his gifts. His love is that wide!

46 Do you think that God will be issuing bonus points when you show love to those who already love you? Is that so different from the scruple-less low-life tax collectors who manage to love their friends? 47 If you exchange greetings with only those in your circle of friends and relatives, what’s so great about that? Even unbelievers love the most loveable. 48 But I’m calling for something more extreme -- greater love -- more complete love -- the kind of which your Father in heaven shows. Don’t miss an opportunity to act like him.