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The Golden Rule part 2

July 8, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Luke

Topic: The Golden Rule Verse: Luke 6:27–6:36

“The Golden Rule”

Luke 6:27-36

 

Theme: Love empowered by the Holy Spirit is seen by a believer supernaturally loving those unworthy of it.

 

 I. The Obligations to Love – 6:27-28

A. Allow Your Affections to Show Love – v. 27a

  • Jesus chooses to contrast those who know His favor to those who are in a place of judgment – the wicked who have no knowledge of His righteousness.
  • “But I say to you who hear …” – this is a reference to those who have been illumined by the Spirit of God to hear what Jesus is actually saying – “hear” [ἀκούω - Pres. Act. Part.] – refers to one whose faculty of hearing is working – that is, they are listening and heeding what is being said.
  • Hence He is talking to those who believe in Him and are able to comprehend the things of God’s Spirit.
  • He immediately provides another major evidence of being a genuine believer:
  1. First, was the sensitivity to your need caused by sin – the outlook that confesses you have no merit, are grieved by sin, and craving the righteousness of God that is available only by God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
  2. Now, those who have known that are able to demonstrate the authenticity of their relationship with God by means of the way that they supernaturally love – 1 John 4:7-8
  • He says “Love your enemies …” – [ἀγαπᾶτε] – a Pres. Act. Imperative – a love that places the needs of its object ahead of one’s own.
  • This is a command that demonstrates that their concern, their affections, ought to consider how they are able to meet the great need of their enemies as their priority – that need being one of salvation.
  • The greatest problem that the enemies of the Gospel have is not their treatment of us, but their alienation from God.
  • Hostility is the natural response to those who hate you – as people mistreat us, our flesh naturally desires to avenge ourselves – the vengefully retaliate in kind.
  • Yet, when you “love your enemies” – you do something that is “unnatural” and thus becomes a verifying evidence of the transformation that God brings to the sinner who is saved from sin.

B. Allow Your Actions to Show Love – v. 27b

  • Moving from our sentiments of a greater concern for the lost than for ourselves, we see that we don’t love in word only but in deed and truth – cp. 1 John 3:18
  • Thus, Jesus says: “do good to those who hate you.”
  • This word “good” [καλῶς] – describes something that is inherently good, not superficially.
  • Thus, it describes doing something that is unmistakably good – to the definite benefit of one who hates.
  • It is in this way that we “overcome evil with good” – cp. Romans 12:21.

C. Allow Your Attitude to Show Love – v. 28a

  • Instead of cursing those who curse us, believers are to “Bless those who curse you.” – that is, to seek to “call down God’s gracious power[2] on their behalf.
  • This is a way that a believer can demonstrate the supernatural love that they have for their enemies – to refuse to have this vindictive spirit that lashes out in like manner.
  • Essentially, it is the way by which we leave room for God to deal with a person in the way that he determines is appropriate – cp. Romans 12:14-18
  • This does not mean that we ought not to warn them of the impending judgment of God upon evildoers.
  • It simply means that we are not to call down wrath upon them – essentially damning them because of their hostilities toward us.
  • We are to seek to call down God’s grace upon them so that they might be delivered from the snare of the devil – who has held them captive to do his will.

D. Allow Your Aspiration to Show Love – v. 28b

  • Finally, we are to demonstrate our great aspiration for their salvation by praying for them – “pray for those who mistreat you.
  • There is a sense whereby we intercede on their behalf before God, asking the Lord to spare them and save them – cp. Luke 23:34.
  • It is as we demonstrate this love in response to the bitter, hostile, abusive, slanderous treatment by sinners that we do all that we can to display the genuineness of our love for God.
  • As we do so, we compound their culpability before God – since if they can maintain their hostility in the face of such supernatural displays of the love of God, their judgment is intensified – cp. Romans 12:19-20!

Application:

  • What is demonstrated when you love an enemy?
  • Is there anyone in your life that is hard to love? What can you do to demonstrate truth biblical love toward that person?
  • What is the difference in your life between loving in word, and loving in deed and truth? 
  • Can you give an example of how praying for an “enemy” has resulted in a change in your relationship with them?

II. The Opportunities to Love 6:29-30

A. Respond Rather Than React – v. 29a

  • Jesus moves from the principles of how we are to love to the particulars – the practical applications.
  • He begins by saying: “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also …”
  • This is not advocating pacifism – the idea that you have to allow someone to abuse you under any and all circumstances.
  • Self-defense is not outlawed here; only reacting to the abuse that is to be expected for your faith in Christ.
  • Jesus is calling for His followers to respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the impulse of our flesh.
  • Anyone devoid of God’s Spirit can retaliate – but only those filled with God’s Spirit can restrain themselves from retaliation and display a gentleness and meekness (strength under control).
  • The idea generated here is that instead of fighting back or failing to remain faithful to avoid further blows, keep proclaiming Christ despite the fact that it will cause further abuse – cp. Acts 5:40-42.

B. Reconcile Rather Than Resist – v. 29b

  • The second illustration provided is to seek avoid resisting and doing something that would be considered reconciling – “… and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.”
  • Again, instead of retaliation believers are to do something totally unexpected by our enemies – go beyond what they demand.
  • Matthew tells us that this essentially describes a civil court lawsuit wherein a plaintiff sues a believer for his “coat” as an act of aggression against Christ – we are to not fight against him.
  • Instead we ought to be willing to suffer wrong – being defrauded, if you will – in order to avoid bringing any reproach upon the name of Christ – cp. 1 Corinthians 6:7-8.

C. Reward Rather Than Resent– v. 30

  • Finally, we find yet another illustration of how we can love supernaturally – “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”
  • We are able to overcome the natural greed and selfishness that characterizes the unsaved – displaying a godly generosity that refuses to resent those who take from us.
  • Jesus is not in any way diminishing a sense of justice – only a sense of selfishness that causes us to resent when something we claim as our own is taken from us.
  • In these three illustrations, Jesus is declaring that reaction, resistance, and resentment ought not be the reputation of those who are enjoying the Kingdom of God.

 

Application:

  • Provide an example in your life where you responded to an antagonist that helped resolve an issue.
  • How have you been able to discover the effectiveness of “overcoming evil with good?” (Provide and example)
  • Discuss the difference between being a “doormat” and being humble - what is the difference?

 

III. The Objectives for Love – 6:31-36

A. To Demonstrate Supernatural Love – v. 31

  • Jesus now offers what has become known as the “Golden Rule” – “Treat other the same way you want them to treat you.”
  • This same principle had existed before Jesus said this – but always in the negative such as: “Do not do to others what angers you” or “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”[3]
  • Instead of merely copying the notable human ethicists, Jesus calls on us not to avoid offending others, but to actually seek their welfare and interests.
  • This is something that we seek to achieve – to ascend above what is merely the apex of human achievement to a level that only God can enable one to do.

B. To Distinguish from Sinners’ Love – vv. 32-34

  • Secondly, Jesus contrasts what is expected of believers to what is expected of unbelievers.
  • If we cannot exceed what the unbeliever can do, we are not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” – there is no power there!
  • Again, “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.”
  • What Jesus is advocating is a contrasted behavior to the ungodly, not a comparable
  • He calls upon believers to distinguish themselves from the way sinners love one another – only then can there be a genuine gospel witness.

C. To Display the Savior’s Love – vv. 35-36

  • The primary reason that we do anything that we do ought to be to bring glory to God – this is the prime objective.
  • If we allow our love to be contrasted to the sinners’, we allow attention to be drawn to the reason for the contrast – “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High …”
  • There are greater blessings than the recovery of our money, or exacting revenge upon enemies, or returning evil for evil … as gratifying as it might seem to our flesh; if we truly display the love of God, there are two things that Jesus wants us to appreciate:
  1. We will be recognized by God for the display of His glory on this earth – “… your reward will be great …”
  2. We will demonstrate the reality of God’s grace in making us His children – “… and you will be sons of the Most High.”
  • The resemblance is unmistakable when our behavior is explainable only by means of our relationship with God – we show that our “genetics” are from God – “… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”
  1. His motivation for such kindness is to bring them to repentance – cp. Romans 2:4
  2. Our motivation for imitation of God in His kindness and mercy is to display His great concern for the unsaved – to love them as He loves them and desire for them to be saved even as He.
  • The glorious summary of this is given by Luke – “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
  • The point is that God’s glory is eternally made evident as sinners are turned from sin because believers display His love and prioritize the salvation of even their enemies.

Application:

  • How does our treatment of others reflect on God’s love for us?
  • Provide an example of how you loved someone for the purpose of promoting the Gospel in their lives.
  • Why is it that “self-love” is NOT the basis for the love God expects from us.

 

[2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 408.

[3] MacArthur, p. 107