36. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. -Matthew 5:42
Jesus said give to those who ask of you, and we must give. We need to stop twice and think before we spend all of our money on extras for ourselves and neglect our ministry of giving to meet urgent needs (see Titus 3:14). But we also need to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” as we give. To give an alcoholic $5 for “food” when you have a pretty good idea he’ll spend it on alcohol is not a good idea. Instead, you may keep a few gift cards on you to places that sell food and gas, and give those to people in need instead of giving them cash. Remember also as you act as a “Good Samaritan” that Jesus sent His disciples out to minister to others in pairs. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations alone! Do meet needs for Jesus, but put a little thought into it!
37. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. -Matthew 5:44 Context: Matthew 5:43-47
Many people mistakenly say that Jesus is calling for something different than what the Old Testament taught. What He is speaking against here is what the Pharisees had added to the Old Testament. They interpreted “love your neighbor” to mean “love your neighbor who is ethnically like you!” But when you read the Law you see that they were to look out for the vulnerable among them. They were to devote a portion of their crops to bless the poor and the foreigners in their midst (Lev. 23:22). In the book of Jonah we read of God’s concern for the residents of the city of Nineveh at a time they were among Israel’s greatest threats (Jonah 4:11). Jesus here lays it on the line for believers – if you love only yourselves, and people like you, you are not any different than the heathen who also “take care of their own.” And so He calls those of us to follow Him to show the same love He showed us while we were rebels shaking our fists at Him. What are we called to do with people who do us wrong? Love them, pray for them, bless them, do good to them. Sound familiar? “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).
38. Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect. -Matthew 5:48
Perfection – that’s what we as believers are aiming at! A professor or mine used to say, “If you aim for the stars, you might not hit ‘em, but you will get further than aiming at the moon!” Of course, none of us can perfectly obey! In part what Jesus was doing here was driving us to realize that we all are imperfect sinners who need Him as our Savior from sin. I love the quote that says, “I can’t, but Jesus never said I could! Jesus can in and through me, and He promised that He would!” Salvation comes by God’s grace alone through our faith alone in Jesus Christ alone! But once He lives in us, our striving should be to obey everything He has commanded us! Our failures will keep us humble and dependent on Him and asking for forgiveness when we disobey. But just as a married person is seeking to be 100% faithful to their spouse, that is our goal in our walk with Jesus!
39. Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in Heaven. -Matthew 6:1 Context: Matthew 6:1-4
Enough of Photo Opportunity Christianity! Fellow believers, let’s do the right things because they are the right things to do, for God’s glory not our own! Be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser! Heaven is not impressed with your efforts to impress people. We are told throughout the New Testament that one day in Heaven God will reward openly things done for Him secretly in this lifetime. Fellow believers, as you give seek the applause of Heaven rather than the applause of men!
40. And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. -Matthew 6:5-6 Context: Matt. 6:5-8
Be a person of prayer! Your first commitment in prayer needs to be alone time with God and His Word in a quiet place. Don’t have loud music playing, the television, computer, or smart phone distracting you – make this your time with God! Do pray with others also, because that is certainly called for in the Bible. But don’t pray to God to impress men. Usually neither God nor man is impressed! Just as God will reward your giving one day, He will also reward you for being a prayer warrior!