Scripture: Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Context: So Jesus in Matthew 4 had just been driven to the desert and had his encounter with the devil, He began to preach, called his disciples, healed the sick, preached the sermon on the mount, made a series of statements that began with “You have heard it said, but I tell you. This question is a part of one of those statements. “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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Gospel Cross Reference ”luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Old Testament Reference :”Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.” (Paul quotes this in Romans 12:20) “The picture of putting coals on a person’s head initially sounds like a picture of causing burning pain, but it really is not. Instead, it seems to be a picture of stirring up the coals of a fire to rouse it back to life again. It is a picture of stirring within a person a response of remorse, when they see your kindness in the face of their meanness. “ https://engediresourcecenter.com/2015/07/08/heaping-burning-coals/
Quotes, Commentary: ”it begins with the beatitudes, not bedoitudes. The Pharisees had been putting all the emphasis upon what they were doing, their physical state. Jesus was redirecting their attention to their inner thought life, their spiritual state.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you”” Ralph Waldo Emerson”
Observations, Conclusions: When we realize how we are to be as Christians. we know there is no way we can do it. The minute we confess we are unable to do it, we have taken the first step towards depending on Jesus. Being a witness for Jesus is not something we are to do – it is who we are to be. Jesus DID what He said. As he was nailed to the cross He didn’t curse those who tortured and killed Him – He prayed for them: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Miscellaneous: The Jews would have viewed tax collectors as traitors and extortionists and to associate with pagans? Not done. They had been taught all their lives that they were to hold themselves apart. These questions would have elicited strong emotional responses. We are to love others the way God loves us:
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Agape is not love of the emotions but of the will. It may involve emotions but it always involves action. It is manifested by specific actions. 1 Cor 13:4 Gal 3:22, Matt 8:34
Prayer: Father search me and help me to identify those prejudices that I carry in my heart. Teach me your way of loving so that I may be a better witness for Jesus and more fully know you as I see you in others, including or especially those that I harbor hurt or anger towards. Amen