The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Matthew 5

Mat 5:1

Mat 5-7: The proclamation: manifesto of the King. Christ's self-portrait to challenge listener and reader.

HE WENT UP ON A MOUNTAINSIDE AND SAT DOWN: Moses received the Law standing before God, and descended from the mount to deliver it to the people. The One who is greater than Moses is seated, and delivers the Law in the mount as the very voice of God (TM 25).

Instances of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer, and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15; 8:1.

In addition, the whole of Mat 5-7 proves to be an extended commentary on Psalm 15:

A comparison of Psa 15 and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7):

Psa 15:1: "Who shall dwell?"
Mat 5:3-12: the principles of blessedness
Psa 15:2: "Walketh unrightly"
Mat 5:13-16: "walks in the light"
Psa 15:2: "Worketh righteousness"
Mat 5:17-20: "righteousness exceeds..."
Psa 15:2: "Speaketh truth in heart"
Mat 5:21-6:34: contrasts heart with form
Psa 15:3: "Backbiteth not"
Mat 7:1-5: "Behold not the mote..."
Psa 15:3: "Nor doeth evil"
Mat 5:43-48: "Love your enemies"
Psa 15:4: "Vile person is condemned"
Mat 7:15-23: "By fruits ye shall know them"
Psa 15:4: "Swears to own hurt"
Mat 5:33-37: "Communication: yea... yea..."
Psa 15:5: "Puts not money to usury"
Mat 5:38-42: "Give without reward"
Psa 15:5: "He that doeth... never removed"
Mat 7:24-27: "Doeth... buildeth on rock... will not fall"

HIS DISCIPLES CAME TO HIM: This is a loving invitation. Ct those who received the LM (Heb 12:18-24).

Mat 5:2

AND HE BEGAN TO TEACH THEM: "And he opened his mouth, and taught them" (AV). In Moses' day, the Law had spoken from stone; here, it speaks from human lips.

THEM: Christ taught all people, not just disciples (Mat 7:28,29).

Mat 5:3

Vv 3-12: The "Beatitudes" in the Psalms: Psa 1:1; 2:12; 32:1,2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4,5,12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 118:26; 119:1,2; 128:1,4.

Eight blessings here; eight curses in Mat 23:13-29. Cp combined blessings and curses on Ebal and Gerizim: Jos 8:30-33. Here, blessings in Galilee, and curses in Zion.

"The teaching and precepts of Jesus expressed in the clear symmetry of the Sermon on the Mount are not abstract ideals, as beautiful as mountain peaks and as remote, to be preserved and worshipped in devotional hours and ignored in the hurly-burly of daily living. They form a working philosophy of life which is the only road a disciple can tread. A steep and difficult road truly, but one which Jesus himself was treading. Nor did he demand that his disciples should tread it alone. He reached out his hand and led them towards its summit" (MP 129).

"A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side out and saying, 'Here is your human race.' For the exact opposite of the virtues in the Beatitudes are the very qualities which distinguish human life and conduct. In the world of men we find nothing approaching the virtues of which Jesus spoke in the opening words of the famous Sermon on the Mount. Instead of poverty of spirit we find the rankest kind of pride; instead of mourners we find pleasure seekers; instead of meekness, arrogance; instead of hunger after righteousness we hear men saying, 'I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing'; instead of mercy we find cruelty; instead of purity of heart, corrupt imaginings; instead of peacemakers we find men quarrelsome and resentful; instead of rejoicing in mistreatment we find them fighting back with every weapon at their command.

"Of this kind of moral stuff civilized society is composed. The atmosphere is charged with it; we breathe it with every breath and drink it with our mother's milk. Culture and education refine these things slightly but leave them basically untouched. A whole world of literature has been created to justify this kind of life as the only norm alone. And this is the more to be wondered at seeing that these are the evils which make life the bitter struggle it is for all of us. All our heartaches and a great many of our physical ills spring directly out of our sins. Pride, arrogance, resentfulness, evil imaginings, malice, greed: these are the sources of more human pain than all the diseases that ever afflicted mortal flesh. Into a world like this the sound of Jesus' words comes wonderful and strange, a visitation from above. It is well that he spoke, for no one else could have done it as well; and it is good that we listen. His words are the essence of truth" (AWT).

"The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. They are 'poor in spirit.' They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is what the word 'poor' as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Let me exhort you to take this seriously. It is not to be understood as mere Bible teaching to be stored away in the mind along with an inert mass of other doctrines. It is a marker on the road to greener pastures, a path chiseled against the steep sides of the mount of God. We dare not try to bypass it if we would follow on in this holy pursuit. We must ascend a step at a time. If we refuse one step we bring our progress to an end" (AWT).

BLESSED: "Not a passing joy, but a continuing condition of heart."

THE POOR IN SPIRIT: "Those who are oppressed by the tyrannical power of sin, and who long for the intercession of God" (TM 36). Thus turning upside-down the world's assessment of poverty and riches. Being poor means opportunities for faith, and dependence on God, which the rich must find in other ways.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: Called "kingdom of God" in Luk 6:20.

Mat 5:4

MOURN: Not for personal loss, but for: (1) Zion (Psa 137:1); (2) God's delay (Dan 10:2); (3) the sins of believers (Ezr 10:6); (4) one's own sins (1Co 5:2; Jam 4:9). Ct Mat 6:16-19.

Mat 5:5

MEEK: Not weak, but teachable (cp Psa 25:9-14). "The hard-earned result of a purging spiritual experience, and a high degree of courage and self-control" (J Luke). See Lesson, Gentleness.

INHERIT THE EARTH: "The people whose heart is not set in possessions shall receive the everlasting possession" (TM 41). Earth, promised to the righteous: Psa 37:9-11; Pro 10:30. If we forsake the "WORLD", we shall inherit the "EARTH"!

Mat 5:6

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: Kingdom as a banquet (Mat 8:11,12; Luk 13:29; 22:30; 14:15-24). The only one of the beatitudes to imply an aspiration after something not attained.

Mat 5:7

"There is nothing more appealing than righteousness matched by mercy and sympathy." Mercy -- essentially a divine characteristic: Psa 51:1; Isa 54:8.

Mat 5:8

PURE IN HEART: "Just 'doing' is not enough. Motive is everything. All that we do, we must do for the love of God. This is the only motive He accepts. We must not do from fear. Or for praise. Or as a burden and a duty. Or in self-importance. Or to impress others. Or in competition or rivalry. There are many, many motives; and the deceptive, natural human heart is many-faceted and complex. But all must be purged out, leaving only love remaining. Then the heart is pure. The pure in heart and they alone, shall see God. God, cleanse us from folly, and make us pure in heart!" (GVG).

Mat 5:9

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: Peace = fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22; Joh 14:22). A product of the transformation of vv 3-8. Cp 1Co 14:33; Jam 3:18.

Mat 5:10

The disciple's character is now complete, but the world will not find it attractive.

Mat 5:11

YOU... YOU...: Note the transition from third to second person: Christ now makes his lessons more personal.

Mat 5:12

REJOICE AND BE GLAD: Persecution as a special privilege (Phi 1:29)! See Article, "Rejoice in tribulations".

GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN: In heaven now, but to be brought to us at Christ's coming: Rev 22:12; 1Pe 1:3-5; 5:4; 2Ti 4:8.

FOR IN THE SAME WAY THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU: "By such an experience one joins a noble and glorious fellowship" (WGos 179).

Mat 5:13

Persecution strengthens character, saves from selfishness, and develops trust in God. Persecution is the last step in the process of perfection. Are we not now seriously persecuted because we have not successfully completed the previous steps?

Vv 13-16: All figures of speech related to Temple:

  1. Salt: accompanied all sacrifices (Lev 2:13); used in incense (Exo 30:35). (And salt which has lost its saltness becomes the useless salt which is used like sand on the Temple areas made slippery by the blood of many sacrifices: see note below.)
  2. Light: Temple fire, altar.
  3. City on hill: Jerusalem!
  4. Lamp and bushel: Lampstand and oil vessels (WGos 181).
#s 2 & 3 = Light of the world.
# 4 = Inner light, Exo 25:37.

SALT: Purpose of salt: to cause the sacrifices to burn more perfectly and completely, ie with a distinctive bright flame -- the "divine fire". Fire destroys, but salt preserves. Fire = strife, ambition; salt = peace, purity. For salt, see Lev 2:13; Num 18:9. Salt sym incorruption, in ct leaven/yeast. All temple sacrifices were salted: we are "living sacrifices" (Rom 12:1,2). Salt is a token of the covenant: Every sacrifice must be in bonds of covenant -- ie done in a proper spirit. Cp Col 4:16 with Eph 4:29.

"Purity is not just for the perfection of the individual life but that its influence is for the common good. The purpose of salt is to purify, but not to purify itself. Its purpose is to purify the material to which it is applied. It is intended to halt the spread of corruption in the area where it is at work. The influence is altogether antiseptic. Purity in the disciple is like the antiseptic influence of salt. The disciple's purity halts the spread of corruption in the little world where the disciple moves. That point is stressed by the word earth. It is not in heaven, nor in the world at large but 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' The pollution is of the earth, earthy: the standing ground where men corrupt themselves; on the level of the material, in the valley where the dirt collects, where the stench is bad and disease abounds.

"Salt bearers are not called upon to cleanse the universe, but that limited sphere of influence where every day they move. It is not a crusading march. It is not banner work. It is not with the backing of a great trumpet. The effect of salt is unobtrusive, like leaven in a whole lump: quiet, unseen but real. Disciples become salt because of what they are" (GD).

HOW CAN IT BE MADE SALTY AGAIN?: Or, as AV, "wherewith shall it [ie the earth] be salted?"

IT IS NO LONGER GOOD FOR ANYTHING, EXCEPT TO BE THROWN OUT AND TRAMPLED BY MEN: (1) Impure salt, being useless, was put on temple pavements made slippery by blood (WGos 181), or in wet weather (see note above). (2) "I have often seen just such salt, and the identical disposition of it that our Lord has mentioned. A merchant of Sidon having farmed of the Government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over an immense quantity from the marshes of Cyprus -- enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for at least twenty years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the Government out of some small percentage. Sixty-five houses in Juney were rented and filled with salt. These houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the street, to be trodden under foot of men and beasts" (LB 381). If such spoiled salt were thrown in the fields, it would sterilize the soil.

Mat 5:14

A light shining in a dark place (2Pe 1:19). Cp Phi 2:14-16.

Mat 5:15

PEOPLE LIGHT A LAMP: The priests trimming and lighting the lampstand in the Temple.

BOWL: Or "bushel" (RSV; AV). Gr word only in this instance, incl Mar 4:21; Luk 11:33: an instrument of commerce! Thus, hiding the light of the Gospel in a pursuit of material prosperity.

Mat 5:16

The principle in reverse action: 1Sa 2:17; Mal 2:8.

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE MEN, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD DEEDS AND PRAISE YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN: At first glance these words seem to contradict the Lord's words just a bit further on, when he says: "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men" (Mat 6:1-4).

But of course there is no real contradiction. In the first passage the Lord is telling us that by our good works we must glorify God; in the second passage he is telling us that by those same good works we must not glorify ourselves. What matters is our motive in doing them, and the effect they have on those who see them. If we deliberately parade our virtues before men, and wait until someone is looking before doing the helpful thing, and talk about those same acts to make sure they were noticed, then we are glorifying ourselves.

Yet men are to see our good works; how else can they glorify God? The Lord's words imply a level of living that cannot be concealed. A true disciple does not need to parade his virtues; the quality of his life as a whole will make its own impact without a publicity agent. His conduct, his modesty (if it is real!), his conversation, his guileless concern for the welfare of others: these attributes will shine through and proclaim more eloquently than any words that he has been with Jesus. We must make no mistake: direct preaching is very important too. But preaching by example is far more important: if the quality of a man's living does not match his message, then all his preaching is in vain.

Mat 5:18

The Jews were still under the LM: Mat 15:7-9; 19:16,17; 23:1-3; cp Mat 5:23,32; 7:12; 8:4.

UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR: Figurative language: Isa 51:6,16; Psa 102:25-27; Jer 31:35,36; 2Pe 3:13.

Mat 5:19

BREAKS: Gr "luo": "relax"; "unloose" (RSV).

WILL BE CALLED LEAST IN THE KINGDOM: Perhaps "will be called least BY THOSE who are in the kingdom".

WILL BE CALLED GREAT IN THE KINGDOM: Likewise, "will be called great BY THOSE who are in the kingdom".

Mat 5:20

FOR I TELL YOU: "A sublime assumption of authority which must have taken men's breath away" (WGos 185).

Mat 5:21

DO NOT MURDER: Cited from Exo 20:13; Deu 5:17.

Mat 5:22

ANYONE WHO IS ANGRY...: Since no human court can judge emotions, it can only be a heavenly court!

ANGRY: Gr "orge": a cold, settled "anger" of policy, not of emotion.

Some mss (and KJV) have "without a cause", but omitted in many mss.

...WILL BE SUBJECT TO JUDGMENT: Implicit here: Another "You have heard it said, 'Whosoever... council', BUT I say to you, 'Whosoever... fire/Gehenna'." Thus, A-B-A-B structure (WGos 187).

RACA: Sig "rebel against God": Psa 2:1; 2Ch 13:7. Used by Michael against David (2Sa 6:20).

THE FIRE OF HELL: Gehenna = judicial destruction, not preservation in eternal torments: see Mat 5:29; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mat 10:28. "Gehenna" = valley of Hinnom, a valley also called Tophet, a detestation, an abomination. Into this place was cast all kinds of filth, carcasses of beasts, unburied bodies. Fires were kept burning to consume refuse. Never used as a symbol of eternal preservation in torture, but rather death and complete destruction. Jesus used it as a symbol of judicial judgment that awaits resurrection.

Gehenna: (1) scene of idolatrous human sacrifices: Jer 7:31,32; 2Ki 23:10; 2Ch 28:3; (2) punishment of OT nations and armies: 2Ki 19:35; Isa 30:31-33; (3) judgment to come upon unfaithful servants: Mat 25:32-46; (4) destruction of those nations who will come up against Jerusalem: Zec 12:2,3; Joel 3:2,12.

Mat 5:23

See Lesson, Be reconciled.

SOMETHING AGAINST YOU: Not the other way around; ie, EVEN if you have done nothing wrong... it is still your responsibility to seek to be reconciled!

Mat 5:24

GIFT: The gifts we offer are prayer and praises: Psa 141:2; Hos 14:2.

THEN COME...: Jesus is speaking of himself as the altar (Heb 13:10)! Hence "come" and not "go"!

"God seeks and values the gifts we bring Him -- gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the gift is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship?" (GCM).

Mat 5:25

Roman law gave the creditor the right to summon debtor to follow him to magistrate for judgment.

ADVERSARY: God is the "adversary". Take steps to make peace with him before it is too late (Psa 32:6; Isa 55:6; cp Luk 12:58,59). "Antidikos" means the other fellow in the court case. Hence, in the parable, "agree with thine adversary quickly, lest the judge..." (Mat 5:25; Luk 12:58). And, in another parable, the widow appeals persistently to the unprincipled judge: "Avenge me of mine adversary" (Luk 18:3).

But now what about 1Pe 5:8?: "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." JWs and such are put in rather a fix to explain what court-case the devil they believe in might want to prosecute. The word suggests very pointedly the activities of malicious accusers (Jews?) laying information against Christians, hoping to get them thrown to the lions in Nero's persecution. Read in this way, the word "antidikos" makes sense; otherwise, not.

Mat 5:28

Cp Psa 66:18 ("If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened"); Num 15:39 ("Remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes"); Eze 6:9. "If a brother who looks lustfully is an adulterer in his heart, then a sister who dresses provocatively is a harlot in her heart" (PW). The thought harbored and savored may lead to the wrong actions of divorce and remarriage (Mat 5:31,32), which Jesus calls "adultery" also. As to controlling one's thoughts, consider the old proverb: 'One cannot prevent the birds from flying over one's head, but one can keep them from building a nest in one's hair.'

Mat 5:32

See Lesson, Divorce.

"Fornication" ('porneia') and "adultery" ('moicheia') used together in Mat 15:19; Gal 5:19; Heb 13:4.

EXCEPT FOR MARITAL UNFAITHFULNESS: Gr "logoi porneia": cp Heb "ervat dabar" (Deu 24:1-4). Given only for hardness of heart (Mat 19:8). Christ emphasizes one cause, in ct to many (cp the "anyone" of v 31) -- although not desirable, even under LM.

WHO MARRIES THE DIVORCED WOMAN: Or "when she is divorced".

Mat 5:34

"Moses' command ('Thou shalt swear by his name': Deu 10:20) was ruthlessly interpreted as meaning that any oath not addressed directly to the Almighty need not be binding. It provided a splendid device for over-reaching or deceit in a business deal" (WGos 191).

Oaths not expressly forbidden: Mat 26:63; Rom 1:9; 9:1; 2Co 1:23; 11:31; Gal 1:20; etc. God used oaths: Luk 1:73; Act 2:30; Heb 3:11,18; 6:13-18. As did angels: Rev 10:6.

"There are no gradations of truth, no compromises, no subtleties" (MP 140). The name of God may not be used lightly or falsely (Lev 19:12).

Vv 34,35: "A smokescreen of circumlocution in their emphatic speech" (WGos 191).

Mat 5:36

AND DO NOT SWEAR BY YOUR HEAD, FOR YOU CANNOT MAKE EVEN ONE HAIR WHITE OR BLACK: Perh cit Lev 13:3, where white hair was one sign of leprosy. As if to say, it is as impossible to change one's nature as it is to be healed of leprosy!

Mat 5:37

SIMPLY LET YOUR 'YES' BE 'YES,' AND YOUR 'NO,' 'NO': That is, 'Say it twice' -- that's all! This was God's method (Gen 41:32).

THE EVIL ONE: Or simply "evil" (AV).

Mat 5:38

Vv 38-45: Nonviolence, submission: Mat 7:12; 10:16; Luk 6:27-31; Isa 53; Rom 12:14-20; 1Co 4:11-13; 6:7; Gal 5:22,23; Eph 4:13; 2Co 11:20; Heb 10:34; 12:14; 1Pe 2:21-23; 3:9; Tit 3:2; Jam 5:6; 1Th 5:14; 2Ti 2:24. Cp examples of Christ (Joh 18:23) and Paul (Act 23:3). Revenge is wrong: Lev 19:18; Pro 20:22; 24:29; 1Co 6:7.

"The sacrifice of God's son bore no relation to justice -- the redemption of the world is upon the principle of forgiveness" (MP 141,142).

EYE FOR EYE, AND TOOTH FOR TOOTH: Cited from Exo 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deu 19:21. Compensation and not retribution, and then only as the JUDGES determined: Exo 21:22,23; Lev 24:19,21; Deu 19:16-21.

Mat 5:39

The setting of the quotation in v 38 (Exo 21:24, Lev 24:20, Deu 19:21) was public, the court of law. It is here esp that Christ is counseling non-resistance to evil -- although that does not necessarily mean that such non-resistance should be restricted there.

"We must not plume ourselves on our refusal to give blow for blow if we simply apply the principle on the physical plane where we do not happen to be put to the test. Probably few of us were much deterred by Christian precept when we were schoolboys, and since we left school probably no one has ever struck us a physical blow to test whether we would turn the other cheek. On the mental plane, however, we have had blows innumerable. How have we endured them? When a critic in making a personal attack lays himself open to a crushing rejoinder which would do no good, however pleasant it might be to us and our friends, can we resist the temptation? Do we try? The deceitful heart will furnish us with ample disguise if we want it. We may hit back and persuade ourselves that our resentful feelings are all motions of zeal and piety. There is no end to the evil that might be wrought on such a basis. The commandments of Christ present an ideal so far above us that if we deceive ourselves sufficiently to start such evil work we can easily find glaring faults in every man who presumes to judge us. Many, however, do try to strip the heart of its disguises and to apply the command, 'turn the other cheek', on the mental plane. They recognize that the feeling of resentment when brethren prove disappointingly obdurate is a fleshly feeling and the inner man must be on his guard. If the feeling is denied expression it presently subsides. How can we be angry with beings as frail as we know ourselves to be? Man is more than half mere feeling even at his intellectual zenith, and in time of strife he is far removed from the zenith. Only at the judgment seat of Christ will the secrets of the heart be revealed. There will be no feeling of resentment then for personal wrongs. If Christ can forgive our sins, it will be a sheer joy to find that he can also forgive others whose vision has been different and who have sinned in other ways" (PrPr).

THE CHEEK: Thus, quite possibly, doing damage to the eye AND the tooth!

Mat 5:41

MILE: The Roman mile was 4,860 feet (12/13 of an English mile), based on 1,000 (mille) paces.

Mat 5:42

GIVE: The verb is continuous imperative: 'Keep on giving!'

"Christians should give sacrificially to help people in need. That's what Henry Richards did when he brought the [Bible] to the people of Banza Mateke. Each day he would translate and explain 10 vv from the book of Luke. When he came to Luk 6, he hesitated because most of his followers were very poor, and might misunderstand this v. He said that Jesus' words illustrate a principle and had to be interpreted in the light of other Scriptures. But they took them literally and quickly asked for almost everything Richards owned. Without hesitation he gave them what they requested. Soon, his most cherished possessions were in their hands. After talking among themselves, the people concluded that Richards was truly a man of God, for they had never seen anyone so self-sacrificing. One by one they came and returned what he had given them."

Mat 5:43

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: Mat 19:19; 22:39,40; Lev 19:18; Mar 12:31-34; Luk 10:27-29; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:13,14; Jam 2:8.

Mat 5:44

In Christianity Today, psychiatrist Robert Coles told an amazing story of a girl who had learned to pray for those who were hostile to her. Coles was in new Orleans in 1960 when a federal judge ruled that the city schools must be integrated. A 6-year-old girl, Ruby Bridges, was the only black child to attend the William T Frantz School. Every day for weeks as she entered and left the building, a mob would be standing outside to scream at her and threaten her. They shook their fists, shouted obscenities, and threatened to kill her. One day her teacher saw her lips moving as she walked through the crowd, flanked by burly federal marshals. When the teacher told Coles about it, he asked Ruby if she was talking to the people. "I wasn't talking to them," she replied. "I was just saying a prayer for them."

Coles asked her, "Why do you do that?"

"Because they need praying for," came her reply.


General Robert E Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed. "General," he said, "I guess you don't know what he's been saying about you." "I know," answered Lee. "But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!"

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES: 'Lay your foundation in love and service and kindness. We are never going to help anyone to make a hard decision against the pull of their own animal desires, if we have already embittered them against us by criticism and unconcern: rather in such a case we re-enforce their resistance. We may have gratified our ego by condemning them, and achieved cheap self-satisfaction, but we have done no service for God" (GVG).

"I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now... as I shall not pass this way again" (William Penn).

Mat 5:45

SONS OF YOUR FATHER: The "family likeness" of Rom 8:29.

HE CAUSES THE SUN TO RISE ON THE EVIL AND THE GOOD: The Father asks the children to do only what He Himself does: Deu 10:17-19.

It has been said: "If I am not careful and prudent (which really means selfish!) I may give charity to someone who does not deserve it, or someone who does not use it properly": This is a common Christadelphian "worry". And it sounds all too much like the businessman proclaiming to the board of directors the "virtue" of the preservation of capital. But in showing love for others through our material gifts, we are exemplifying the character of our Father in Heaven, who sends His rain on the just and on the unjust (Mat 5:45). God loves us whether we deserve it or not. He loves us even when we definitely do not deserve it. He loves us even when we do despite to His grace and turn our backs on His outstretched hand. He is not "careful" or "responsibly prudent" about His gifts.

Mat 5:48

See Lesson, Be ye holy (1Pe 1:13-16).

BE PERFECT: "Our fixed life's aim must be total harmony with God. Anything less than this is a wasted, aborted life. This is the standard set before us, and there is no other. Any other standard is a wicked, deceptive human invention, guaranteeing death, foolishly and fatally 'comparing themselves with themselves.' We shall admittedly never totally achieve this aim in this life. Only Christ did that: and he was specially prepared, helped, and strengthened to accomplish it. That did not make it easier for him: it just made it possible. He achieved it by constant effort and constant vigilance. We are required to get and stay as close as we possibly can to that -- within the limits of our abilities and capabilities (which only God knows). We constantly tend to drift away. We must make a thousand course corrections daily to stay on target. We must keep constantly pulling ourselves back. With sufficient love of God, this is a joy. Without it, it is an intolerable burden. True love for God couldn't be happy doing anything else" (GVG).

PERFECT: Gr "teleios" = mature, grown up: Eph 4:13; Col 3:14,15.

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