2.18.2017

Matthew 5:33-48 (1)

Relationship (2)
Reading: Matthew 5:33-48

According to our text today, Jesus is teaching about how we should speak and relate to each other.
Let’s think about what Jesus said today one by one:

Jesus said 2000 years ago:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’”

Let’s stop here and think about two Bible verses in the Old Testament.
About 3400 years ago God said to Jewish people through Moses: Leviticus 19:12
“‘Do not swear falsely by my name and profane the name of your God.
I am the Lord.”
God was saying, through our words, we may profane the name of God.

God does not lie.
God speaks the truth.
When God makes his oath, God keeps it.
So when people swear falsely in his name, they profane the name of God.

God also said through Moses: Exodus 20:7
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

God wanted to be known as he is.
So God does not like people to misuse his name.
God was like:
“Leave my name alone.”

When people wanted to know the truth about some events, they might ask other people swear an oath to tell the truth.
They might ask people to swear on oath in God’s name.

But about 2700 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah said: Jeremiah 5:1-2
“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider,
search through her squares.
If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
I will forgive this city.
Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.”

God didn’t like when people invoked his name and swear, “As surely as the Lord lives” and then didn’t do what they said.
But, Jeremiah was saying that no one in Jerusalem at that time, were telling the truth.
They didn’t tell the truth even though God warned them to speak honestly to each other.
What a meaningless relationship it could be when people people didn’t speak the truth to each other.
They did not know the importance of their words.
So when they swore an oath in God’s name, they didn’t keep it.
They lied to people and lied to God as well.
So God could not take it anymore.
When people are not faithful to what they were saying, God didn’t like it.

So when Jesus came about 2000 years ago, Jesus was saying to people:
“Do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.”

What was Jesus saying?
“No more swearing so that you may sin less.
You do not have power to keep your words.”

Jesus was saying that people are too weak to swear:
They see what they want to see.
They say what they want to say.
They leave out some facts so that they may be appeared more righteous.
They may cut corner of the truth.
They may claim things that they didn't do.
Or simply because they don’t understand, they may say something wrong.
So even when they want to say the truth, sometimes, they missed the mark.
This is how weak humans are.
This is our spiritual situation as well.
So we should not swear.
The truth is not in us.
So we don’t believe in people but trust in God who speaks and acts in truth.

So we are trying to follow Jesus who is the truth.
Jesus is the true words.
We trust that through Christ Jesus, God may bring forth the truth in our life.
When God the Holy Spirit works through us, the Holy Spirit may enable us to say the truth.
Then we may explain what the truth is.

So Jesus said:
“Say simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Satan may motivate people to say more than this and sin against God.
Satan may make people claim to do what only God can do.
Then they may try to prove what they cannot prove.

So Jesus was saying:
“Instead of swearing, just say yes humbly what seems yes to you.
Just say no humbly what seems no to you.
Let others know that you could not say more than this, because you know how weak you are.”

Jesus knows how powerless we are without God.
We cannot pretend to speak the truth and swear about our truth telling.
Otherwise, even with our good intention, we may be sinning.
That is what humans are.
That is who we are.

So we pray that we may know about what we say.
We pray that our yes be yes and our no be no.
May we humbly say no to to what we think is no.
May we humbly say yes to what we think is yes.
In this way, we may say yes or no in God’s way.
May Jesus helps us to use our words in the right way.

Next Jesus said something like this:
“You have heard that ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

I am not sure how many Christians believe in Jesus and practice these words in our society today.
Who practice no retaliation?
Who love those who try to sue them?
When someone wants to take ours, do we give more than what they ask?

Reading this remarkable words, what we should decide is to bless everyone, no matter who they are.
We choose to live very simply in Jesus.
We choose to do good to everyone.
We decide and determine to do only good to everyone.
We decide and determine to do good even to someone who wrongs us.
We decide and determine to give them what is good.

Next Jesus said:
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

In the days of Jesus, Roman soldiers could force Jewish people to carry their bags for 1 mile legally.
But they could not make them go 2 mile.
That was illegal.
Jesus was saying to Jewish people “go 2 mile.”
What does “Go 2 mile” mean?
Does it mean to make them illegal?

But anyway, I don’t want to carry one mile, letting alone 2 mile.
I don’t think I give to everyone who asks me, do you?
But Jesus is challenging us to practice giving.

Why does Jesus ask us that?
I don’t think Jesus was saying this, so that we may become poor and have no means to support our family.

I think Jesus was saying:
“Give! Share!
Trust me.
Give more to shock them.
Give more than what they asked for.
Give more than what they expected.
Practice this ridiculous generosity.
Because I can bless you.
Trust me.
I can bless you.”

I guess those who believe that Jesus can bless us can put these words to practice.
Those who experience God’s love and those who are captured by God’s Spirit may practice this giving.
Those who are full of the Holy Spirit, may carry out this mission.
Then God may pour out God’s abundant grace upon them.

Jesus gave his life for us.
Then Jesus says:
It is better to give than receive.
It is better to serve than to be served.

This was the life of Jesus.
Many human beings asked him to save them.
Jesus asks himself: How can I save people?
Then Jesus gave his life.
Then God the Father gave everything back to Jesus who loves.
So Jesus has all the authority in heaven and earth.
And those who are full of the Holy Spirit may use the power that Jesus gives to them.
Those who obey Jesus will see how much God can bless them.

Talking about giving, Jesus also asks us to give secretly.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:2-4:
“When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.
They have received their full reward.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
Give in secret.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Jesus is saying when you give secretly, God will find you and bless you.
But who practice what Jesus says here?
Who give secretly?

God often give in secret.
God does something for us even when we don’t realize to thank God.
God has done many things that we could be very thankful for.
We should always give thanks to God.
Then our life will be filled with many more blessings.

Anyway, when people try to practice giving, God will reward them.
When the people of God try to give secretly and do what God wants them to do, God surely bless them.
Those who try to practice God’s mercy will receive God’s mercy.
Those who do more than what people ask them will see how much God can bless them.
Those who do good even when people do not treat them well will receive God’s blessings.
Those who give more than what they have to give will receive God’s blessings.
They will hear God as God will answer them.
They will see God who bless them greatly.

Next Jesus said what we heard so many times before:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

“God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

“If you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

God sends rain to both the good and the evil.
God is the giver.
God has endless resources to give.

We live among those who are holy; and among those who are not holy.
But Jesus is still asking us to bless the holy and the unholy.
Then we will experience more blessings and rewards from God.

Some of God’s children may act like children of Satan at the moment because they don’t know God.
But as we pray for them and bless them, they may find God and become the children of God.
When someone shows God’s love, no matter what others do, God may change people and cleanse them from their sins and make them enter into a life of blessing.

So Jesus says:
“No matter what they do, bless them.
They may look like a people of the devil at the moment.
But bless them.
Love them and help them.
Love your neighbors and enemies.
Show your reconciling gestures and maintain your gesture.
Show them how God’s people live.
Then you may receive many blessings and rewards from God.”

But who trust God enough to obey God?
Who follow Jesus like this?
Who believe in God enough and receive God’s rewards?
Who would preach this principle of giving and receiving?
God will bless them.

Jesus may release them from all the cures that people may have spoken against them.
Jesus may protect them from all wrong thoughts and wrong minds and wrong expectations from people so that they may truly serve God and do God’s works that God gives to them.

To them Jesus may also say: Isaiah 41:8-10
“You are my friends.
I have chosen you and will not cast you off.
Fear not, for I am with you.”

Today Jesus points us to see how we should live.
If we choose to live like this, if we choose to speak and act according to his will, if we choose to be a peacemaker as the Holy Spirit empowers us, then we may experience more of God’s actions.
God will show up.
God will approve that we are his children.
God will give us his peace.

All those who try to live like this should pray that the Holy Spirit may empower them to obey what Jesus says, today right?
So let’s come to God and pray together.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, you love us.
We are grateful for your love for us.
Help us to love you.
Thank you for all the things that you have done for us.
Let us understand you and have your attitude toward others.
Help us to serve others by giving more generously.
Empower us, Jesus, so that we may be able to follow you.
May we seek unity and love, thinking of you who died for us.
May we seek peace and find peace.
May we share your words with your world.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen