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Series: The Kingdom of God
Sun am 24 November 2013 – Kobus Swart
Matt. 5:13-48; (Matt. 7:12); (Luke 5: 29-30); Luke 11:37-38;
Luke 23:8-11; Prov. 18:19; (Matt. 11:6); (Isa. 8:14); Gal. 5:11;
Matt. 15:10-14; 1 Peter 2:4-10
Let’s take a look at the character that should be in every kingdom citizen. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is more than just going to church on a Sunday, more than quoting a verse or two; it is about that which you radiate from within. The world is looking at that rather than what is coming out of our mouth. We have all been in circumstances that tested us and our reactions. How do we react under testing situations?
Let us look at some of the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44). Easier said than done! You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ (Matt. 5:38). Our forefathers said, “Love your kinsman; hate your enemies”. It is easy to love your own brother, to love those who love you, even tax collectors do that. Love your enemy! Love the man who would kick you and spit at you, who would drive the sword into your belly. Love the man who robs and tortures you. If a Roman soldier hits you on the left cheek, offer him the right one. If a man in authority orders you to walk one mile, walk two miles. If a man sues you for your coat, give him the shirt off your back “Listen, I tell you, it is hard to follow Me. What I am saying to you has not been said since the world began.” (Matt. 5:33-48). You can imagine the religious response to such unwelcome advice. In fact the Sermon on the Mount did not bless them, it made them mad.
The Sermon on the Mount is called by some “The Sermon of Offence”. It offends people. The rich man asked Jesus what he could do to ensure eternal life. Jesus told him to give all his money away, but we never read of him again. “Lord someone offended me, I am angry. Must I forgive him? How many times? Is seven times enough?” Seventy times seven! The golden rule is, “Do to others what you want them to do to you” (Matt. 7:12). This is talking of the character of the kingdom citizen, he who wants to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. What about this one: “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect?” (Matt. 5:48).
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17). Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:18-20). The Pharisees in their self-righteousness were offended. They came to His disciples greatly offended, “What is He doing eating and drinking with crooks and sinners?” (Luke 5:29-30). The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus did not wash up before the meal (Luke 11:37-38). My question to you is, “How easily are you offended?” The word ‘offence’ involves anger. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city (Prov. 18:19). Why do you think that Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended in Me”? (Matt. 11:6). Yet Jesus was called “the rock of offence” (1 Pet. 2:8 & Isa. 8:14). Jesus exposed the religious environment, and there is still a lot of it in this world; yet it is in this environment that you and I have to be the light of the world.
When somebody scratches us, especially in the context of relationships, what comes out of you and me? What is our reaction in circumstances of confrontational nature? Can I bleed grace, love, forgiveness? Or do I want revenge? After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” (Matt. 15:10-11). Can we be more careful in this relational environment that we are part of; when something irritates and sandpapers us, can we be careful what comes out of our mouth?
What is going to help you and I not be easily offended? We are bound to end up in circumstances where we will face this. We are being tested in our kingdom “vibration” and reaction coming from the inside. What is needed to make us less sensitive, less hurt? What will help is brokenness before the Lord. Brokenness is not weakness. Do not be afraid of tears. When we are criticized, whether rightly or wrongfully, can we react with a gentle spirit rather than attacking? Before you react, let a gentle kingdom spirit determine your reaction. Those of us who have experienced the grace of God, give grace when somebody attacks you. Do not return evil for evil.
If we want to be an influence in society, look at these points: love your enemies, forgive seventy times seven. If we live these things, the kingdom influence will spread faster than through conferences about the kingdom. Go and read the Sermon on the Mount again, let it offend the religious spirit in you if any. How can we be perfect (complete) like our Heavenly Father? If He said it, we can do it.