Preachings

Love Your Enemies by Matnur Sijabat 8/7/18

Love Your Enemies

 

 

Brother and sister,

This morning I would like to talk from Matthew 5: 38-48. Please turn to your Bible Matthew 5 or you can follow the power points. The title of my preaching this morning is “Love Your Enemies”. This is part of Jesus teaching or sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes, on the hill of Lake Gallilee.

 

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

39 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.

40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 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.

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?

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

May God help us to apply these words to our lives.”

 

The Sermon on the Mount is the most famous sermon Jesus ever gave, perhaps the most famous sermon ever given by anyone. It is the longest piece of teaching from Jesus in the New Testament, in the book of Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.  This teaching touch and inspiring millions, including people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and this teaching even admired by atheist like Richard Dawkins and Mahatma Gandhi.

 

The Sermon on the Mount covers several different topics. If I were to summarize the Sermon on the Mount in a single sentence, it would be something like this: How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.

 

INTRO

When I was still a new Christian, I have to admit they this teaching is very hard to swallow. After all, who wants to be nice to people who are cursing you or talking bad about you. There is just something in our nature that desires to take revenge on those who mistreat or misrepresent us.

 

When we think of those who have hurt us – physically, emotionally, sexually – often our first thought is to find a way to get revenge. For some the revenge comes in the form of self-destructive behaviour (cutting, drinking, drugs, alternative lifestyles, etc). Others take revenge by abusing others. Some people use the legal system to exact revenge on others.

 

When other people get hurt – they want revenge – an eye for an eye. That person hurt me so I have to find a way to hurt them back. Obviously some religious leaders at that time were teaching that it was OK to take revenge .

 

But what do the Scriptures teach us about revenge? What does Jesus teach us about the treatment of those we perceive as an enemy?

 

Jesus attempting to rectify a long history of wrong interpretation of the Scriptures by the religious leaders of His day. Look again at Matthew 5:38-39

 

EYE FOR EYE

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

 

Revenge for harm done, is the world’s way of making things right. When we revenge with evil for evil, we join our offender in his error. Jesus told us not to return evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21; Matthew 5:39). Revenge is when we take matters out of God’s hands and insist on fixing things ourselves.

 

In the New Testament, it seems the Pharisees and the Teachers of the law, had taken the “eye for an eye” principle, and applied it to everyday personal relationships. They taught that seeking personal revenge was acceptable. If someone punched you, you could punch him back; if someone insulted you, insults them back.

 

However, God has said, “Vengeance is mine; …”. Romans 12:19 gives clear instructions about how Christians are to respond when mistreated: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

 

“An eye for an eye” was intended to be a guiding principle for lawgivers and judges or government; it was never to be used to justify revenge personally.

 

Our job as Christians is to forgive, not retaliate. We can set healthy boundaries in destructive relationships. We can protect ourselves from further harm and report to authorities someone breaking the law. Two wrongs do not make a right. We have a Higher Authority to whom we report, and He has promised to right all wrongs done against His servants

 

When we follow His commands to love, forgive, and do good to those who wrong us, we can trust that our Defender will do what is right.

 

Illustration:

Let me give some short testimony. When I was still working, for over 8 years I was denied promotion at my work by my manager. I have done many interviews and every time this manager keep putting me down despite that I have more qualifications and experiences. I was so stressed and so were my family. I felt hopeless. I was so bitter that my hair become bald. At night I cannot sleep due to keep thinking about this unfairness.

 

This is an organization that is supposed to promote equal opportunity. I have tried to go through the appeal process. But the people in the appeal review team, are all the friends of this manager. As soon as I found out who are the appeal review team, I knew straight away that my appeal will fail.

 

To cut a long story short, I have the support of my family. My wife and my children. We prayed together. I have to let go everything. I learnt to take away bitterness from my heart. I decided to forgive this manager, and I surrender everything to God.

 

Not long after that there is a change in the organization. A new person from outside the organization became my manager. This new manager interviewed me for a new job vacancy, and…I got the job. I got a promotion.

 

My old manager who were keep putting me down, left the company to work for another company and become manager there, but not for long. He did many wrong things to the workers. He can get away with that in his old place of work, but not in this new company.  He was sacked by the company, and it was so bad that he has to be removed from the site by the company security guard!

 

Now the point I want to bring here is, if people mistreated you, if people put you down, you do not need to revenge. We have a higher authority to report to. Submit your  prayers to Him. He will defend you. We can trust that God will do what is right.

 

SHIRT & COAT & WALK EXTA MILES

Now, lets see the next verse,

40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

 

We need to understand that in the Law of Moses NO ONE could take another person’s OUTER COAT (Deut. 24:13).

 

The outer coat was like our winter coat. It was made of either heavy wool or leather. It was used as a form or protection and warmth. In the OT if a man needed to offer collateral for something he would give his COAT. It was a very valuable property to them.

 

However, Israel was commanded by God to never keep that COAT overnight. It was to be returned and the item for which the collateral was given, returned as well.

 

As a matter of fact God tells them it is an act of righteousness to return a man’s COAT to him before the nightfall. So no one could sue a person for their COAT – ONLY THEIR SHIRT

 

But Jesus says, if a man sues you for your shirt – go ahead and give him your COAT too.

 

Jesus was teaching that we must be willing to let go some of our “rights” for the sake of other people. Be ready to give up even that which by law cannot be taken. As much as possible, we should be willing to show love to others—even if we don’t like them.

 

It is about being willing to suffer some forms of personal discomfort instead of immediately looking for a way to retaliate.

 

GO EXTRA MILES

 

The same point is being made in verse 41,”… if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles”

 

Under Roman law a soldier could force someone, any Jew on the road, to carry his backpack for one mile. The background of this practice is this :

Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, invented the postal system to carry letters and documents or backpack from one place to another. To make his system work, any courier could force anyone to carry the mail or backpacks for one mile, but only one mile. The Romans adopted this system for their military, to keep their soldiers from getting worn out, from carrying heavy backpacks.

 

When a Roman soldier told someone to carry his pack, the Jew would have to drop everything he was doing and go out of his way to obey his order. If someone refused to do it, he would be flogged.

 

Now Jesus says, “Not only do I want you to carry it one mile, I want you to carry it an extra mile.”

 

When a Jewish man or boy is carrying the soldier’s backpack for the first mile, he is a slave. However, when he chooses to carry the burden for a second mile, he then takes control of the situation.

 

No one paid attention when a Jew carried a heavy backpack for a Roman soldier for one mile. The first mile was an obligation. But imagine the scene when the soldier tells a Jew he has done his duty and can drop the bag, but he tells the Roman that he wants to keep on carrying it for him! Now he has everyone’s attention, including the soldier’s.

 

The second mile was an opportunity. The second mile gives us a story worth telling.

The extra mile is our witness to the world. It’s the way Jesus expected his followers to win over Roman soldiers to the kingdom of God, and it’s still the way we win an unbelieving world to Christ. It’s how we testify to a lost world that Jesus has made a difference in us.

 

We don’t carry Roman backpacks anymore, but the principle applies to every area of our lives today—in our relationships, at home, at school, at our jobs—Christ calls us to go the extra mile going above and beyond what is asked of us.

 

Don’t just do what is required but let your light so shine before men…set aside your personal comfort and YOUR RIGHTS for a moment and see the bigger picture – a world requires people willing to live sacrificial lives for the glory of Christ’s Kingdom.

 

When it comes to your work, always deliver more than expected to the client and your boss. The client will always want more for their buck, which sometimes can almost seem like they are taking advantage. Instead of spending hours on something that they didn’t need, give them more for what they paid for: quality. Quality over quantity always wins.

 

How can you deliver more than expected towards your boss? You can start with putting more effort, dedication and passion into your job. This will increase the productivity. No matter what field you’re in you should always give more than what’s expected. If you ever want to move up or make the best impression, this is one way to be rewarded by it. The second mile was an opportunity.

 

I have been working with people long enough to observe that all successful people live by the second mile or extra mile principle.

 

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

Now,… Jesus gives an even more radical teaching

 

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR

Jesus was talking about the command given in Leviticus 19:18 that says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour …

 

About two months ago, I heard these scriptures broadcasted on television to the whole world. I like it, it excited me and I like to share it with you. Some of you or maybe many of you were watching the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan.

 

 

Part of the wedding that I like to mention is when African Bishop Michael Curry delivered his “Power of Love’ sermon. Let me quote a piece of his “Power of Love” sermon on that wedding day:”… On these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world … love God, love your neighbors, ……

 

That was a very powerful message by Bishop Michael Curry about loving your neighbour. This morning I was preaching this message for loving your enemy to some 30 peoples, but that night and over 50 millions of people were watching they heard this very message, this teaching, which was taught by Jesus some 2000 years ago in the Mount of Beatitudes.

 

The religious leaders of the day had interpreted this verse to mean, that you only had to LOVE YOUR PEOPLE. In other words, you only have to love those people who are just like you, or do the same things you do, or have the same religion as you. So as long as you were not one of my people, I could hate you and call you my enemy.

 

As such, the people felt no shame in mistreating Romans or hating them. After all, they are mean to us – we should pay them back. But Jesus is telling them that in HIS KINGDOM EVIL IS OVERCOME BY DOING GOOD!

Anyone can be good to someone who is good to them. Even sinners know how to do this. But God has a different standard. God even gives us an example of how He loves even those who do not love Him.

 

“God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

 

If God hated His enemies then the sun would never shine and the rain would never fall! Thank God He doesn’t just give sun and rain to those He loves…how would His enemies know His goodness otherwise?

 

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but Christianity is a radical faith. Jesus calls us to do the impossible: to love the unlovely, to literally love without limits. And this is more than a sentimental Valentine’s Day type of love. It is an Agape love.  Agape love means to show unconditional kindness. It means going out of your way to show mercy and friendship even to the people who drive you bananas. Even to the people who don’t treat you well.

 

Brother and Sister,

If someone is giving you a hard time, maybe that’s God’s way of saying “I want you to pray for this person. And most of all, pray that through your life, they will see the unconditional love of God in action. Pray that they will experience ultimate joy in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.

 

But why we do this?

In a world that is controlled and dominated by hate and revenge, the person who lives by the teachings of Christ will make a huge impact. Just like it did in the days of the Apostles,  who were persecuted but prayed for,  and served the persecutor.

 

This doesn’t come naturally. You need the power of God for this kind of love. And that’s Jesus’ point.

 

BE PERFECT

Jesus ends this teaching segment by saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

 

How can you be perfect? As sinful human beings we will not reach a place of complete perfection on this side of Heaven. However, that is not an excuse for not growing and becoming a more mature person in Christ. As such, we too follow the teachings of Christ and as we do we grow in our character;

 

  • The closer we get to Jesus by prayer and obedience, the more our character will begin to reflect His values and not our own.

 

  • The more we follow the teachings of Christ, the more we will separate ourselves from the hatred and revengeful nature of this world.

 

  • The more we follow after the teachings of Christ, the more we want to be like Him and let our whole life be an example of His character.

 

  • When we follow the teachings of Christ, we will learn to love those, who we once thought were unlovable.

 

Consider Jesus our supreme example in all things. As he hung on a cross, dying the common death of a criminal, yet never having sinned, he was able to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

 

Or Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who was able to say the same thing as the rocks flew his way in a public stoning (Acts 7:60). When you love without limits, people take note.

 

When we love without limits, we really reflect our standing as “children of our Father in heaven” (verse 45). People look at us and say, “He looks like his Father. She has her Father’s heart.” A watching world is drawn to a loving God, one who loves us without limits.

 

CONCLUSION

Brother and Sister,..in closing…

 

I believe the Lord wants us to examine our hearts this morning. Are we planning ways to get back at someone who did us wrong? Are we just waiting for the opportunity to get our revenge on someone? Do we have bitterness in our heart that is leading us to anger and hate? These are questions we need to ask the Lord.

 

If you are here this morning and you have never given your heart to Jesus Christ. You may be thinking, this teaching of loving your enemies sounds pretty tough. Well, it can be if we try to do it all alone and in our own power. But no one can love his or her enemies unless God does a supernatural work in their lives.

 

That work begins with repentance (asking God to forgive us) and acceptance of Christ as our savior.

I am not telling you that you will leave here this morning with the ability to love those who hurt and curse you. But you will receive the power of Christ to be able to know His forgiveness for you, and that will help you want to forgive others – it will take time.

 

This is not something we can achieve on our own. This is only accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as we consistently spend time in prayer and study his Word. It happens only as we surrender to him. It happens as we understand that it is not just about being saved, but being transformed.

 

I would like to close this teaching with a quote by Tertullian, a Christian author of Tunisia in the 2nd century AD.

 

“To love friends is the custom of all people, but to love enemies is customary only of Christians”.

 

Let us pray:

Father, as always, we’re going to need your help. It is not our natural to be able to love those who are mean to us, who hurt us, who offend us, who are different from us. But you love them, every one of them. Help us to surrender our emotions, our reactions, and to pray for them and love them and serve them, as your Holy Spirit flows through us, in Jesus’ name and for his glory,

 

Amen.

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2018 Dedication and Thanks giving Service 10th Anniversary 24th June

2018 Dedication and Thanks giving Service 10th Anniversary 24th June

Today is our 10th anniversary dedication and thanks giving service. Church, there is so much to acknowledge our almighty God for all the things He has been doing in our lives and our church life. When there is Thanksgiving, we are expressing gratitude, especially to the Almighty God for the things He has done in our lives and for all believers, it is one of the great commandments. According to Psalm 100:4, we are to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise”.

Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything keep on giving thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.                                                                                                                       

Church, for the life of SGC we want our church to have a grateful spirit, this thankful heart. Giving thanks to the Father, or having a life characterised by a thankful heart, is the crowning virtue for any child of God. A worthy walk that pleases God occurs in those who both recognize and stay occupied with God as their heavenly Father, their very source and benefactor of life (Rom. 11:36).

Church, we are here for a thanksgiving and dedication service. Dedication is the act of consecrating an altar, temple, church, or other sacred building or persons. It also refers to the inscription of books or other artifacts when these are specifically addressed or presented to a particular person. In a Church setting, the object is then presented to the congregation whereby is presented to our Lord Jesus Christ, and vows are made to our Lord and Saviour for His Blessings.

So, we have this Thankfulness which is a mental and/or verbal expression of our acknowledgement and appreciation of God’s person, His grace, blessings, and sovereign work in one’s life and the world and for His awesome blessings that we possess through the mighty acts the Father has accomplished in the person and work of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ who delivered every believer out of Satan’s domain of darkness and into the realm of light and spiritual fruitfulness.  We are thankful for our biblical understanding, trust, humility and grace, having the right focus and values, and joy. And now there is the Dedication part which is our act of unconditional offering of everything and ourselves to our Lord .

God Can Use Little Old Me For Such a Time as This-Esther by Elizabeth Tang 17/06/18

God Can Use Little Old Me For Such A Time As This – Esther

This morning as part of our Kingdom Living Series I have decided to title this message as “God Can Use Little Old Me For Such A Time As This”. I wonder how often we question who we are and whether God can use us. When we question this I wonder how often in doing so we miss opportunities to grow ourselves and God’s Kingdom. It can be hard sometimes to get to grips with who we are and how importantly God sees us to His church but it is in this topic that I want to draw out three themes for having confidence that God can use us:

  • Knowing who you are
  • Knowing God’s Plan/Timing
  • Knowing God can use anyone and any circumstance.

As I was thinking about this topic the story that came to mind was Esther as discussed in Esther. As a little something different rather than read the whole book (which I encourage you to do later on) I want to share this video with a paraphrased, illustrative summary.

Know who you are

How many of you know who you are and where your value? In our Christian life you need to be able to know who you are. We live in a complicated world with so much that goes on and so many things that fight to define us and the lives we live. In the busyness of life voices that define us can come from family, friends, work and the media and therefore it is not surprising that it can be hard at times to distinguish who is right and if any of them really have our interests at heart.

We read in Esther that at the time Queen Vashti had been removed from the throne, King Xerses on the advice of his attendance, was on the search for a young woman to become queen in Vashti’s place. We are introduced to Esther in chapter 2 verse 7 where she is described as a “young woman [who] had a lovely figure and was beautiful”. It is also followed by the fact that she was a Jew and an orphan and that her cousin Mordecai had taken her and raised her as his own daughter. As women were taken to the king’s palace to be seen by the king it was Esther’s beauty and looks that also led to her being taken to the palace but in verse 10 we note that although Esther knew her background “Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.”

For me the interesting parts of this passage demonstrate the ways in which people might find value in themselves and in others.

  • People consider value in the way that people look (outside appearance)
  • People consider value in the culture, background and upbringing (inward character)

For the King and his attendants their focus was finding someone that would be able to please the King and it appears to more on the physical, outward appearance. Yet Mordecai could see her worth as a Jew and was concerned she stayed true to where she was from and who she was. He could see the importance and impact this would have with where she would be.

In considering this as I initially mentioned I find that we often don’t know our worth as God intended for us as his children. As Christians we should have the understanding of who we are and as a result know the value we have. For me there are so many affirmations in the Bible of who I am and that encourages me. So I thought I would share a few:

  • I am God’s child (John 1:12) – being someone’s child gives you an immediate connection. As a child of God we should grasp that that gives us one of the most intimate relationships we can have where you are able to grow and learn.
  • I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7Ephesians 2:4Colossians 3:121 Thessalonians 1:4) – God is Love so to be loved by God is to know Love to the fullest extent.
  • I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) – As a child of God we are made in his image and therefore we will be a representation of who He is.
  • I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13) – God has not created us to do things in our own strength, instead we have the abilities given to us by Him for use for Him.
  • I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9) – we are God’s and we are made for our time.

Know God’s Purpose For Your Life

No two people live exactly the same life. We have different educations, different cultures, different relationships and it is the uniqueness and combination of these things that influence the way we are and what we are driven to do.

Late last year I came across a guy called Simon Sinek in a TedTalk on “Start with the Why”. He breaks down the importance of “finding the why” in your life. By doing this it allows you to find your purpose and in finding your purpose you find your motivation; it drives you to do what you do. He also highlights the fact that people buy into not what you do but in the belief you know why you do what you do.

As human beings we do have the ability to work as a group with a concept of working for the greater good of the group even if sometimes that can be at the detriment of the individual. But for that individual to allow it to happen there has to be that motivation and that reason for doing what you do otherwise the obvious question is why would you?

Mordecai says in Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Mordecai was highlighting that Esther had a purpose and reason for being where she was at the time she was. Her position as Queen gave her the unique access that many others did not have to the King and in doing so she had an important job to do.

I know there have been times in my life where my actions have been directed by the expectations of others to the extent that I didn’t know if what I wanted to do was really what I wanted to but I have come to learn (and am still learning) that once you know your purpose in God you will have direction.

In my experience the motivation I get is from knowing and understanding my purpose and the “why” I am passionate. I know for me my “why” is people orientated and the satisfaction of being able to help someone along in their life journey for whatever reason and season that may be. Relationships are important to me in both ways and has been the thing that has kept me going. Sometimes life distractions can make life hard but it is in these moments that knowing your why can be so critical because sometimes that is the only thing that will get you through.

Esther realised her purpose (with assistance from Mordecai) and it was this that gave her the reason to speak out as she did. With the conviction she had and help of Mordecai the Jews gathered to pray and fast and she knew that even if her time to stand up came at a potential cost of her life, she would go ahead regardless as she knew her purpose.

Know God Can Use Any Person and Any Circumstance

We often make excuses and complain about who we are or our circumstances and this can be a stumbling block when it comes to being used by God.

I’ve already touched on the fact that Esther was an orphan and that she was a Jew, but she was also a woman; the combination of which would make anyone think that what worth did she have and what circumstances could she possible influence. However, despite Esther’s background, God used Esther because He knew that she could facilitate greatness and present an understanding to other Jews. Oftentimes we face obstacles and difficult times that cause our lives to feel like havoc is being wreaked, yet God has the fuller picture and can use any person and any circumstance for his glory.

As the story progresses it seems that things might not work out in favour of Mordecai or the Jews particularly given the target Haman had on Mordecai, yet it was during about of insomnia for the King that we see Haman’s demise and Mordecai’s rise to recognition.

There is an incident that appears very briefly in chapter 2 verses 21-23 to the extent that it seems to be a bypassing aside where we are told about a conspiracy to assassinate the King. As Mordecai had overheard the conversation he was able to inform Esther of the plan who in turn informed the King and the plot was foiled. Although Mordecai in essence saved the King he was not honoured for what he had done and where he could have complained about it he did not.

Yet it was during this sleepless night for the King that Mordecai’s role in saving him was realised in reading of the records of his reign. In wanting to honour Mordecai he consulted Haman for his suggestion and thinking it was an honour for him ironically suggested:

 “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” (Esther 6:7-9)

We see in continuance that Mordecai gets the honour and Haman eventually loses his life, turning the whole situation around and demonstrating that no person or circumstance is too small to be used by God. We should appreciate who and where we are from and in the same instance be happy and give thanksgiving in all of our situations knowing we can only grow through them.

Conclusion

In saying this I want to encourage you that at whatever stage of life you are and from wherever you have come from be assured that God has a plan for your life and can use you just as he did Esther and Mordecai.