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Lesson # Matt. 5:43-47
Study Material - Matt. 5:43-47
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
43 'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' 44 'But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 'For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 'And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Love the friends and hate those that are not? Pick and choose? Lev. 19:18, taught the principle of loving of ones neighbor. But the Israelites interpreted this to love their own kind. Love Jews only, love their own religion as opposed to the religions of other gentile nations, love the nation of Israel only as the rest of the world was considered to be outside the franchise, that Israel had, with God.
So over the centuries the distortion grew with respect to interactions with other peoples. Not only did the gentiles get treated as lower class people (you know, God did not give them the scriptures!), not only did the gentiles get treated as outsiders without privilege (you know, God did not promise a savior through the gentile lines!). And so the arrogance and the distortions of the scriptures were exaggerated and twisted into a religion of convenience and privilege. If you happen to have been born into the privilege, then better for you. If not, then your tough luck. Using this rationalization it is easy to be biased, discriminatory, prejudiced against other people that are not inside your group.
Prejudice did not begin in our century, nor in the previous two or three centuries, but has existed ever since Cain became jealous of Abel, and ran off to a far place to ridicule and make fun of those who were not with him. Prejudice is not a new concept, but has been around to drive contempt and unfair policy throughout history.
Jesus clarifies. Love your neighbor, includes everyone on the face of this earth. Love, 'agapao', a moral love, a social love, a tolerance. Neighbor, 'plesion', fellow man. We are in this world with all kinds of people. We live with them. We work with them. We are in traffic with them. We shop at their stores. They are everywhere!! We cannot see into their souls. We cannot see at a simple glance what they are thinking. So we have no basis for treating anyone in a manner other than politely. Each human being is a living soul. We all just have different wrapping paper around us. Some of us are nice looking, some of us are not so presentable. Some of us are male and some are female, and in some cities I suppose you might find a third gender, but that is not something that we need to be concerned with. Hummm.
We are not to be prejudiced against anyone. We are not to play favorites. Yet we see these things happening everywhere. Politicians, supervisors, social organizations, legal systems, parents, all have their favorites. Children have their favorites. Some parents play favorites with multiple kids in the family. Politicians play favorites even within their own represented districts. These attitudes and policies are all sins and an insult to God.
God does not play favorites. He makes the sun rise on everyone. He gives the gospel to everyone. Race, gender, culture, height, weight, looks, even blondes are treated with respect the equality. If you, in your dealings with people, play favorites with a few people for whatever reason, at the expense of others, then you are in the wrong. You can play games with people, but God sees all and knows what is in your soul.
Anyone who is in a position of authority or power, whether elected, appointed, inherited, or even if you worked your way up through the ranks, then you have a responsibility. Even husbands with their authority over their wives (as defined in the Bible, not as defined by the husband, most husbands are confused on this concept) have a responsibility that goes beyond themselves. To treat the wife with the utmost respect and fairness, to treat the children with respect and fairness even in discipline. The husband though he is first in rank, needs to learn to place himself in the last position with respect to his own needs.
To treat people in a manner that even unbelievers treat them, is not a basis for spirituality, nor the Christian way of life. Anyone can play favorites. Anyone can be fair. Whether you are a Jew or a gentile. Whether you are from one race or another race, one culture or another, or whatever. The intent is not to make your social interactions your religion. But rather, follow the principles of Bible study, of fellowship, of spiritual growth, and this will produce the necessary attitude in you for dealing with people of all sorts of backgrounds and personalities and so forth. To do otherwise is an indication of a flaw in your spiritual life.
Spiritual growth produces the desired results in ones behavior, in ones morals, in ones attitudes in life. The morals of this world do not produce spiritual growth. The Christian life is not a product of morality, but rather the Christian life (through spiritual growth) produces legitimate morality consistent with Gods will. Too many people confuse living a good life with being spiritual or in sync with Gods will, but anything that an unbeliever can do, does not constitute the spiritual life.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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