Unexpected Response

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I’m a bit of a nut about the exactness of words, so one of my pet peeves is the incorrect use of imply and infer. “Imply” is something I do as the speaker; “infer” is something you do as the listener. Or you might say implying is like throwing and inferring is like catching. 

A big problem arises when I infer something that you didn’t imply. Or even worse, when I infer something based on something you didn’t say. People will often say something like this, “Since Jesus didn’t specifically talk about ________ then it must be okay.” In logic, this would be called an argument from ignorance: concluding that an action must be acceptable because it has not been specifically stated to be unacceptable. 

Statement #10 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?” is—Love your neighbor. Is that in the Bible? Yes!  

Remember Jesus called “Scripture” all of the words we would now call “Old Testament.” So in Matthew 5:43 Jesus quoted Scripture: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18). 

Later on, Jesus would add to this Deuteronomy 6:5—Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength—to answer the question about the greatest commandment of all. 

In Leviticus 19, the Hebrew word for love means love in the broadest sense of the word, and neighbor means a friend or a fellow citizen. Unfortunately, the rabbis inferred that someone not a Jew was therefore an enemy and therefore not worthy of love. They further inferred that the opposite of love was hate. 

Matthew Henry commented, “They were willing to infer what God never designed.” 

Statement #11 is—Hate your enemy. Is that in the Bible? Yes, in the fact that it appears in print in Matthew 5:43, but it doesn’t appear in the Scripture that Jesus knew. It had become so ingrained in the thinking of people that they now assumed it was in the Bible. 

In many ways, the Old Testament laws were easier to live out because they were all external and easy to measure, like don’t murder or don’t sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse. But Jesus made it a heart issue—He said lust is the same as adultery and hate is the same as murder. 

Jesus also made love for enemies a heart issue. The word He used for love in the Greek is agape—the same word describing God’s love for His enemies in John 3:16—For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life. 

Jesus said our enemies were really our neighbors and were worthy of sacrificial love because they, too, were loved by God. 

Matthew 5:44 is shortened in the NIV and has a footnote explaining that the longer verse was not seen in the earlier manuscripts. But given the fact that Jesus demonstrated everything found in the longer version of this verse, I think we are safe in using it. So let’s look at the response Jesus calls us to from the NKJV: 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. 

Here’s what Jesus says it means for us to love our enemies:

(1) Bless the cursers. We’ve all been “cursed out” with nasty, hateful words. When that happens, Jesus wants to bless that neighbor. The word He used for bless literally means to say good words. 

(2) Help the haters. Jesus said we are to do those things that are beautiful and excellent—like the good Good Samaritan did for his enemy-turned-neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).  

(3) Pray for the persecutors. Talk to God about them; don’t talk to others about them. 

This response from Christians toward people whom others would call an enemy is totally unexpected by the world. This unexpected response will begin to draw enemies toward Jesus (1 Peter 2:12). If we will treat enemies and neighbors, they may soon become brothers and sisters in the family of God! 

When the world hits us Christians out of hate, let’s respond with unexpected love: blessing those who curse us, helping those who hurt us, and praying for those who persecute us. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our Is That In The Bible? series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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12 Lessons From The Good Samaritan

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Dwight Moody was passionate about telling others how they could have a relationship with Jesus. In his book To The Work! he encourages other Christians to share this passion with him, and he counters any hesitations that Christians have to this work. Using the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan, Moody made these noteworthy observations: 

“Some people seem to think that all the world needs is a lot of sermons. Why, the people of this land have been almost preached to death. What we want is to preach more sermons with our hands and feet—to carry the Gospel to the people by acts of kindness. … 

“The Jews considered that the Samaritans had no souls; that when they died they would be annihilated. Their graves would be so deep that not even the sound of Gabriel’s trump would wake them on the resurrection morning. He was the only man under heaven who could not become a proselyte to the Jewish faith, and become a member of the Jewish family. …  

“You observe there are twelve things mentioned in the narrative that the Samaritan did. We can dismiss in a word all that the priest and the Levite did—they did nothing.

(1.) He ‘came to where he was.’ 

(2.) He ‘saw him;’ he did not, like the priest, pass by on the other side. 

(3.) He ‘had compassion on him.’ If we would be successful winners of souls we, too, must be moved with compassion for the lost and the perishing. We must sympathize with men in their sorrows and troubles, if we would hope to gain their affections and to do them good. 

(4.) He ‘went to him.’ The Levite went toward him, but we are told that he, as well as the priest, ‘passed by on the other side.’ 

(5.) He ‘bound up his wounds.’ Perhaps he had to tear up his own garments in order to bind them up. 

(6.) He poured in oil and gave some wine to the fainting man. 

(7.) He ‘set him on his own beast.’ Do you not think that this poor Jew must have looked with gratitude and tenderness on the Samaritan, as he was placed on the beast, while his deliverer walked by his side? All the prejudice in his heart must have disappeared long before they got to the end of their journey. 

(8.) He ‘brought him to an inn.’ 

(9.) He ‘took care of him.’ … 

(10.) When he departed on the morrow, the good Samaritan asked the host to care for him. 

(11.) He gave him some money to pay the bill. 

(12.) He said: ‘Whatever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.’ …  

“Do you want to know how you can reach the masses? Go to their homes and enter into sympathy with them; tell them you have come to do them good, and let them see that you have a heart to feel for them. When they find out that you really love them, all those things that are in their hearts against God and against Christianity will be swept out of the way.” 

To read my full book review of To The Work!, please click here. You can also check out some other quotes that I have shared from this book by clicking here. 

5 Quotes On Mercy From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the merciful (Matthew 5:7)…

“The first four character traits of the Beatitudes…all address our internal character and our relationship to God. Here in this Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ Jesus begins to address our relationship with other people.”

“Note the subtle distinction between compassion and mercy. The Samaritan had compassion [Luke 10:33] and then showed mercy [v. 34-35].”

“Mercy expresses itself in two general areas: In the temporal sense, mercy seeks to meet the physical needs of others, as the Good Samaritan did in Jesus’ parable. The second way mercy expresses itself is granting forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.”

“The magnitude of our sin is not measured by its effects on other people but by its assault upon the infinite majesty and holiness of God.”

“To forgive others means we regard ourselves as ten-thousand-talent debtors [Matthew 18:23-35].” 

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

Is “Christian” Just A Label?

Josh SchramOur youth pastor, Josh Schram, shared a message yesterday which really convicted me. Here are my notes just as I took them Sunday morning.

Some stereotypes of Christians aren’t very flattering. If we ask someone to think of a farmer or a plumber, we probably all get the same sorts of images in our minds. But when we say “Christian,” there are a lot of images that come to mind. And many of them aren’t very flattering.

The word Christian only appears three times in New Testament (in the NIV)—Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

The followers of Jesus preferred to call themselves disciples (see Acts 26:11). That signals a lifestyle, not just a label.

Does my lifestyle reflect the fact that I’m a follower of Jesus, or am I just happy with the title “Christian”? Am I trying to justify not doing the discipleship work that Jesus commanded me to do, namely loving God and loving others (Luke 10:25-37)? Notice especially this verse: But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Why don’t Christians want to put their love into action? They say they’re busy, or don’t have enough resources, or don’t want to get involved, or they think helping may be a trap. But the priest and Levite who didn’t stop to help may have saved the injured man’s life! How much so the Christian of today!

Does my faith in Jesus change the way I live, or is “Christian” just a title I’m happy to live with?

As kids, when we play “follower the leader” we follow all the actions of the leader. But Christians seem to change the rules: “I just need to believe what He says, but I don’t have to do what He says.”

To truly be called a “Christian”—a disciple of Jesus—my LOVE should be in action, just like Jesus (Luke 10:27-28; c.f. Acts 10:38).

If you’re ready to be challenged, check out Josh’s message for yourself—

Samaritans & Haitians & Pat Robertson

How in the world am I going to link these three thoughts? I think I can do it, but first, a little historical background…

Have you ever noticed in the Bible how much the Jews disliked the Samaritans? In fact, it was said that if a Jew had to even say the word Samaritan he would immediately spit to get that vile word out of his mouth. Where did this come from?

After King Solomon’s death, the nation of Israel was split in two. Judah and Benjamin in the southern half of the country went by the name “Judah” and had their capital in Jerusalem. The northern ten tribes went by the name “Israel” and had Samaria as their capital. The northern kingdom—the Samaritans—became more and more godless, turning to false idol worship.

The Samaritans would make deals and alliances with any surrounding country and their false deities to save their necks from other invaders. In effect, they made a deal with the devil.

Pat Robertson made a foolish comment that the earthquake in Haiti was because the Haitian people had “made a deal with the devil” to kick the French out of their country.

Did the Haitians make such a deal? Did the Samaritans? It’s very likely.

Yet when Jesus was asked to explain what it meant to love one’s neighbor, whom did He use as an example? A Samaritan!

Demonic deal or not, God desperately loves the Haitian people. Jesus died to bring Haitians into a personal relationship with Himself. God grieves over the devastation in that country.

Mr. Robertson, now is not the time for judgmental statements. You are not the one who should be making such statements. Now is the time for compassion. Can you imagine Jesus saying to the woman at the well, “Since you live in a country where your ancestors made a deal with the devil, you’re disqualified. I have living water to give, but you’re not getting any of it because you are under a curse”? I can’t imagine that.

If you’d like to show compassion to these precious people, can I recommend making a donation to a wonderful organization called Convoy of Hope? Please keep praying for the Haitians.

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