Sunday, July 16, 2006


"Make my Day" or The Miracle Mile Matthew 5

"make my day" or The Miracle Mile Matthew 5
38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father 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 will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Revenge has been much in the news recently. From the Today show this morning came an invitation for folks to email in and tell them what they have done to take revenge on ex partners.
One said, corncobs in the curtain rods. Another said, cut off the right sleeve of all his suits.
And then this morning an act of Revenge, the fighting between Israel and Hezbolah in Lebanon.
Revenge is something driven deep into the human soul. This passage of scripture is not hard to exposit, but it sure is hard to live.
1. The Principle Of The Second Mile
Life Is Lived at three levels
Hellish level :Render evil for good
Human Level : Render evil for evil
Holy Level : render good For Evil
There was the farmer who had had a poor deal from the used car salesman. When he went to collect the car, he discovered all sorts of hidden added costs, like: Dealer delivery, on road costs, and other costs.
Then the used car salesman came to the farmer to buy a cow. He sold it to him for $600. But when the Salesman came with his truck to take delivery, the farmer handed him a bill for several extra costs:
Duo tone leather trim : $400
Greased nipples ; 4 of, $40 each.
Twin air horns: $50
LPG facility: $500
The Lord Demands More Than A Minimum Morality.
38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer.
Lex Talionis:: judicial law versus personal morality!
Ex 21:23 If there is an injury, then you must give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.
Lev 24:19 If any man inflicts a permanent injury on his neighbor, whatever he has done is to be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Whatever injury he inflicted on the person, the same is to be inflicted on him.[
Now this was a judicial law, not a personal law. Some, the Pharisees particularly it seems, too k advantage of this law to take personal vendettas. But this was forbidden in the law.
Lev 19:18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
"If someone forces you to go one mile…" This expression came out of old Persia and refers to the authority given by the king to those sent to do his bidding. If a courier or soldier needed assistance in fulfilling the king’s mission, he could commandeer any man or horse or wagon with no questions asked. Later the armies of the Greeks and the Romans adopted the practice.
In Jesus’ day any Jew could be forced away from his own concerns to help a legionnaire who may or may not have really needed him. In much the same way Simon of Cyrene was "compelled," (forced) to bear the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:32).
The Jews of Jesus’ day, of course, deeply resented this humiliating law and saw it as a symbol of foreign domination. You can imagine, then, their surprise when Jesus said, "go with him two miles."
Our concept of "justice" is built on the principle of "reciprocity." It seeks to insure that those who violate rights and deny justice are appropriately punished.
"An eye for an eye," is the way the Bible puts it. Rather than inviting retaliation, the real goal of this law was to insure justice by guaranteeing proportional compensation to the victim. It was designed to keep the rich and powerful from literally "getting away with murder."
Such justice is sanctioned by God Himself as a means of constraining the human tendency toward exploitation and manipulation of the defenseless.
Understanding this, we are even more surprised at these words of Jesus.
Rather than calling upon them (and us) to resist this unjust law or, at best, to comply with it only minimally, he calls upon his followers to respond to evil with good and to domination with voluntary subordination.
Those words of the Lord Jesus stir up a powerful conflict in me. "Yes, yes - Evil cannot be defeated with its own cruel tactics." I recognize that truth.... But there is a second response of irritation even anger, saying,
"Sure, go ahead and turn the other cheek. What will that get you except a second black eye?"
There are people who seem to be masters of evil. Every generation knows a few of these monsters....
Hitler whose dreams of power led to the murder of millions and suffering for most of the known world;
Idi Amin, who crazed lusts led to the slaughter of 100's of thousands in Uganda;
Stalin who it is estimated killed as many as 20 million Soviet citizens in the early days of his dictatorship in Russia;
Pol Pot whose demonic policies brought 1-2 million Cambodians to their death and destroyed that country's structure pushing it back in time 50-100 years!
Next to these kinds of monsters, it is easy to forget the rather ordinary kind of evil person that lives in our neighborhood, who works in our shop, or who attends our church. Most evil does not jump out in our face and announce its presence. That smiling person might be hiding a cruel heart, a deceitful intent, or a malevolent desire. The fact : "All of us are capable of doing evil things, but evil people are driven by a self-interest that
is so heartless, conscious, and cruel that it delights in stealing from others the lifeblood of their soul.... evil is present when there is a profound absence of empathy, shame, and goodness. An evil person is unmoved by the inner world of the other person (and consequently has no empathy). An evil person is unaffected by exposure so is consequently shameless. An evil person delights in stripping away purpose and vitality (consequently he is not good)."
The Lord Demands More Than A Loveless Legalism
Lev 19:18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. There are supervisors at work who refuses to think of you as a person, who treats you solely as an machine to produce for the company. There are spouses who cruelly manipulate and use their wives/husbands for their own selfish needs without a thought for the needs of the other person. There are those ego-centric people who cruelly and viciously attack others, pointing out flaws, sins, and failures with a sick joy. There are those who use their power to prey on the weak... exploiting the ones over whom they have power for their own needs. Jesus tells us to love these evil people. As Christians we are taught that love will overcome.
Think of it for a moment, Clint Eastwood as Dirty harry has the perpetrator's head in his sites, and his gun next to the baddies ear, and he whispers "Make My Day!" We are excited about that. the evil doer has been seen to be an evil doer, and we would be real glad if Harry would take that mangum gun and finish him off. We're excited , and we inwardly hope he will. Now Harry is the Law, and he's allowed to do that. But he has to take him in oif he surrenders. And we don't want him to surrender. We want more than justice. We want revenge!
But instead of a loveless legalism, the Lord jesus calls us to love our enemies!
Now here is the shopkeeper in old Jersalem. You can imagine him saying this, Love your neighbours, but hate your enemies. Now that statement isn't biblical. its nowhere in the Bible. In fact we are called to love all. But you can imagine the common way of saying it, "The Bible says 'love your neighbour' but that means you can hate your enemies!" (say it with a Pirate voice) But the Lord cuts straight across that. Nope you gotta love your enemies!
The Lord Demands You Pray for Your Persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
Charles Spurgeon said, "Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. " I like that - the forerunner of mercy. I'm sure you have found that when you start to pray for someone you don't get on with, God begins to answer your prayer by softening your attitude toward them. We must love them because of who they are-sinners fallen from the image of God and in need of God's forgiveness and grace, just as we were and do. We must pray for them that they will, as we have done, seek His forgiveness and grace.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who suffered and eventually was killed in Nazi Germany, wrote of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:44, "This is the supreme demand. Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God. For if we pray for them, we are taking their distress and poverty, their guilt and perdition upon ourselves and pleading to God for them."
Love our enemies and pray for them.
Do I love that evil person enough to pay the price of boldly loving them with the hope of change?
Do you believe Romans 8: 28? We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
These all things include the persecutions and hatreds of others. They are part of God’s purposes for us. They refine us. Sometimes we need the crucible to refine the product. To refine that which is within us!
2. The Practice Of The Second Mile
Consider the costs of genuine love....
We must be willing to endure loss. Genuine love of evil person will cause us to lose sleep, comfort, and even relationships. Most of the time it is much easier to simply go along with an evil person in a pseudo-loving way, than it is to genuinely love them. Hopefully this will become clearer in a few moments.
We must be willing to face shame and hatred.
The smiting blow of the fist on the right cheek would be a backhanded blow by a right handed person. it would be a sign of dismal hatred and desite.
An evil person knows where you can be shamed and will not hesitate to use shame to gain your compliance with their schemes. They may use a relatively harmless phrase calling you something like "chicken," or they may call into question your manhood, your intelligence, or your integrity. If you and I do not have a firm grasp on the gracious forgiveness of God and His great love for us despite our weaknesses and failures, we will not be able to withstand the assault of shaming. We will turn from the evil person in self-preservation.
We must be willing to help towards repentance. An evil person will not respond to a simple discussion of good and right. Unlike the fool who can be changed by education, the evil person must be caught in the act and called to account.
That is an example of genuine love. Many mistaken believe that love would mean that the abused spouse would just meekly submit to such cruelty. Is that love? Is the abuser made a better person by the submission of that spouse? Is he forced to face his need to change?
Allender says it like this.... "we need to catch evil in the act and smile, calmly and confidently stating what we are willing and unwilling to endure- then we must stand back and watch hell rise out of the fury and explode. When we are prepared for the assault we can re-state the boundaries even as we shake inside. Inform an evil person that you will leave his office, hang up the phone, or call the police. Then do it with deliberation, without apology, and without vindictiveness."
Withholding relationship is one of the ways of showing genuine love! It takes away the support of the person who is evil and hopefully allows him or her to experience the kind of loneliness that they cause others to feel. Be careful! Don't withhold relationship simply to protect yourself from pain. That is wrong. Don't withhold relationship without taking many steps of prayer and counsel. But realize that even as a Christian, you may love a person by refusing to be a part of their evilness.
The church is instructed in the use of this tool of love. We have come to call the process- excommunication. Many who misunderstand it, think that excommunication is a method of eliminating evil persons from the church. No so, at all. It is an attempt to cause that evil person to see the depth of their sin, so that they will change. It is an attempt to cause ultimate good.
3. The Power Of The Second Mile 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Our choice is between escalation of the conflict or elimination of it. Retaliation is a dead end. The sooner we realize this the easier it will be for us to begin down the road Jesus asks us to walk. Then we will begin to see and experience the secret power of the second mile. Then we will learn the lessons that going the second mile will teach us.
Lesson One: Going the second mile will break the hostility cycle. By responding in a loving and calm way to hostility we can lower the temperature a few degrees. In Proverbs 15:1 we are told that "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." As we respond by turning the other cheek, giving more than is required -- our coat as well as our shirt, and going the extra mile, we deal an unexpected blow to the hostility cycle that is expected. This principle really works in a variety of situations we all face regularly. It works when someone cuts you off in traffic. It works when you are in a line and someone cuts in front of you. It works when you are interrupted. It works when someone gives you a harsh word. You see, if you lash out in anger when you are in any of these situations you only escalate the conflict. If you respond by being kind and generous, which is the unexpected response, then you catch your antagonist off guard and they, not knowing quite how to respond, calm down a bit.
This works in a marriage relationship. When you see the tensions beginning to rise because someone is irritable, you have a strategic decision to make. You can become irritable yourself. We have all done this and know where this leads. Or you can respond in kindness and gentleness. Which works better? Kindness and gentleness. And when the conflict has already started and you have impulsively shot your mouth off and said the wrong thing, if you will immediately stop and admit you are wrong, you can get a handle on the situation. It is hard to do that. There is something within us that hates to admit we are wrong, even when everyone, including us, knows we are. But if we will be big enough to make the first move, we will experience the secret, positive power of the second mile.
This works in the workplace when unreasonable bosses are flexing their irritating muscle. It works in the school situation when demanding and implacable teachers, who think their class is the only one that counts, give you unreasonable assignments. You can become bitter or better by how you respond. So, lesson one is that going the second mile will break the hostility cycle.
Going the second mile will touch others with the true gospel of Christ.
What is the real mark of a Christian? Is it a lapel pin that says "Jesus First"? Is it a bumper sticker that says "Honk if you love Jesus"? Is it a glib "Praise the Lord" when anything goes wrong? No, it is none of these things. The real mark of a Christian is love. Jesus said that the world would know we were Christians by our love. In John 13:34-35 we read, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
The real mark of true Christianity is unselfish love and a laying down of our lives for others. This is what Jesus did. And to lay down one's life is to lay down one's rights. When Jesus hung on the Cross, He was not there simply because Rome had capitulated to the unruly Jewish mob. This was not something outside of Jesus control. It has been rightly said that He could have called 10,000 angels to His aid. After all, He was the Lord of the universe.
If anyone had a right to rights, it was Jesus. But He chose to lay down His divine rights. In fact, He chose to do that when He left heaven to be born a man. When it says in Philippians that He "emptied" Himself to become a man, it means that He divested Himself of His divine prerogatives. He reaffirmed this laying aside of rights to Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane when He said to the Father, "Thy will be done." This is how Jesus loved us and how we are to love one another.
The soldier at the foot of the Cross began to see who Jesus was he said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
Think anout it. He had possibly accompanied Judas to the garden to take the Lord. He may have seen Peter draw his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. He may have been there as the Lord Jesus stood before Annas and Caiaphas. He undoubtedly was there in the courtyard as Jesus stood before Pilate. He would have been involved in the savage beating. Perhaps it was he who bought down the rod on Jesus’ head, or punched him in the face, or pushed down that crown of thorns on his brow. Perhaps he bartered for Jesus’ clothing! And there below that cross, the love and mercy of the Saviour breaks his heart and he says, “Truly this one was the Son of God!”
This is the kind of love that lays down rights for the sake of others. It is this kind of love that causes missionaries to reach out to the very tribes that killed their co-workers and friends. It is a powerful acknowledgement of a love that is not of this world. It will bring people into contact with the true gospel.
Have you considered that the crucible of pain that you endure, may well be the vessel by which the Lord reaches many with the gospel.
Consider JG Patton. He gave himself sacrificially. His wife and children died, and he had to sit on their graves for several days to stop the natives digging them up and eating them. And all Vanuatu was saved.
Or consider Hudson Taylor of China, and the abuse he suffered so that he might willingly lead these people to the Lord.
Consider your persecutions. Perhaps this is the way that the Lord will use to change people’s lives, and bring them to the Saviour!
Will you trust the Lord to do His work? Will you trust yourself to the Lord in these matters?

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