Tomorrow, God willing, I will be teaching from Matthew 5:38-48, part of the Sermon on the Mount, and the last section that deals with issues of “the law”.
As I’ve been studying this passage for the last few weeks, I keep asking myself these questions: “To me, who are evil persons and who are enemies?” The way that I answer these questions will necessarily impact the way that I interpret Matthew 5:38-48:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48 ESV)
So, as I continue to think about these questions, I pose them to you: “To you, who are evil persons and who are enemies?” Then, to follow up, “How are you responding to evil persons in your life, and how are you demonstrating love for your enemies?”