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Learning To Stop Taking Offense
Examining The Sermon On The Mount

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Learning To Stop Taking Offense

Examining the Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes.  They are familiar sayings from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but have we really examined what they mean to us practically speaking?  They outline the principle teachings that Jesus gave during His earthly ministry.  Within each statement is a promise for a “blessing” (happiness or joyfulness) for those who practice the principle.

Main Passage: Matthew 5:3-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus came into the world at a very cruel moment.  Living was harsh – the democratic ideals, scientific infrastructure and technological advances we live under today were 2,000 years in the future.  That is not to say that it is any less difficult today to abide by these principles.  Most people in the ancient world lived in slightly worse than slavery conditions.  If you were a slave, you at lease were counted as worth something; and probably had the assurance of a roof over your head and food to eat; and yet Jesus specifically homed in on the notion of “retribution in order to gain justice” that surely must have seemed right for most people; but even so, His read of the Old Testament teachings was, ”In everything, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

1.      Unfortunately, however, human nature is diametrically opposed to this principle and those of us who are honest will admit the difficulty in practicing this command after having been wounded or hurt.  What is the problem?

2.      How can we ever treat others the way we want to be treated when they don’t abide by the same rules?

3.      Examine the following passage.  How does it strengthen the message of the Beatitudes?

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:14-16)

4.      When something happens to spoil relationship, whose responsibility is it to get things back on the right track?  Read Matthew 5:22-24 for the answer.  Note who is the “Offender” and who is the “Offended.”

"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother (or sister), and then come and present your offering."

We all know that with the coming of Christ we have been given something that we did not have before.  However, not everyone has received it.  But John tells us,

“He came to His own (the Jews), and those who were His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:11-12)

Speaking for himself and the other believers around him, he says further,

 “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.  For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:16-17)

Grace changes things.  We are instructed that what we have freely received, we must freely give.  “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.  Freely you received, freely give.  (Matthew 10:8)

Conversely, as our pastor has so aptly put it, “Garbage in!  Garbage out!”  You can only give what you have received.  If you have received the love of God, it will be poured out freely to those around.  If, however, you have received bitterness and anger, that too will be poured out on those you minister to.

Paul’s take on this subject is in Galatians 5:1-2,

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.”

5.      Is grace null and void for those who receive circumcision?  What is the real message?

6.      Paul is telling us something important about “receiving.”  Look at verse 13 in the same passage:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:13-15)

Paul here deals with the conflict we find in ourselves.  Not only have we received God’s love and grace, but from the devil and others we have received bitterness.  But God has set us “free” so that we might serve Him by choice.  Discuss “freedom.”

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours; do not demand it back.  Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  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.  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; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)