Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Different

Part 25 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:12

You can listen to this sermon here.



“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (v. 12). 



Can You Spot the Difference? 

When I was a kid, I liked to play Spot the Difference games. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot the differences.


How are followers of Jesus to be different?

We are to be different by being people of love. 

Jesus says, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (v. 12). That’s love, and it’s not easy. “This simple principle would by itself revitalize human relationship if people everywhere were to begin to live by it.” [1] “Others” includes anyone. Remember what Jesus said in 5:44: “Love your enemies.” People usually treat others as they are treated (e.g., if you insult me, I’ll insult you). [2]


It's All About Love

Jesus declares that doing good to others (i.e., being a person of love) “is the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, it’s the essence of the Law and the Prophets. “The Law and the Prophets” refers to the Old Testament. Later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says that on two commandments “depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). What are these two commandments? First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37). Second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39; cf. Lev. 19:18). [3]

If you’re wondering how you should act, remember one word: love. 

The apostle Paul writes, “The one who loves has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). Obeying God’s commands can be difficult, but knowing what we should do isn’t complicated. Love is the answer. Paul adds, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).


So Where Do We Get the Love? 

The word “so” at the beginning of verse 12 points back to verse 11, which says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” If I believe that God will graciously give me all the good things I need, then I “will have the inner freedom and impulse to live the Golden Rule.” [4]


Your Will Recognize Them by Their Fruits 

Jesus states, “You will recognize [false prophets] by their fruits” (vv. 16, 20). “Their fruits” refers to the way they live. Someone who knowingly is a false teacher lacks love. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22).

Can people spot the difference with you? Are you a person of love?


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, 265.
[2] To love someone doesn’t mean we always have to accept their behaviour (see v. 5). Sometimes doing good to someone requires correcting him when he does something wrong.
[3] Earlier, Jesus had said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (5:17).
[4] John Piper, “The Spring of Persistent Public Love,” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-spring-of-persistent-public-love.