Radical Love

Then Jesus again taught his students who were gathered there, emphasizing basic themes he had previously taught them on the mountain (84).

These things are essential to gain all of God’s blessings:
• Admit your self-inflicted spiritual poverty. Admit that there is some part of your nature that resists being controlled by God’s Spirit.
• Mourn for your self-inflicted spiritual poverty. Regret your self-inflicted separation from God.
• Desire to live God’s way, as you realize that your way is not working.
• Expect & accept the trouble that living God’s way will bring in this life. God will greatly reward your faithfulness in the next life.

Living for yourself in this life will never lead to God’s blessings in the next life:
• If your goal in this life is to be rich, you’ll be poor in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is to be full, you’ll be hungry in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is to be happy, you’ll be sad in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is for other people to speak well of you, no one will speak well of you in the next life.

Living for God in this life means you need to have different goals. For instance, you must love your enemies.

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As children of God in heaven, you must be good to people who hate you, you must bless people who curse you, and you must pray for people who mistreat you.

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek, too. If someone wants to take your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Whenever another person asks you for something, give it to him. Whenever another person wants to borrow something, lend it to him. Do for other people what you would like them to do for you.

Why should God reward you — if you only love people who love you? Even sinners do that! Why should God reward you — if you are good only to people who are good to you? Even sinners do that! Why should God reward you — if you lend only to people who are likely to repay you. Even sinners do that!

Instead, as children of God in heaven, love your enemies & be good to them.

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Lend & expect nothing back. God offers blessings to bad people, as well as to good people.

Instead of being like everybody else, God wants you to be merciful, even to bad people — just as God himself is merciful, even to you.

Loving God, please help me to love people as radically as You love me.

(84) Luke 6:20-36

The Mountain: Good Fasting

Finally, Jesus warned against fasting with strings attached — in contrast to good fasting (66):

And when you fast, don’t make a big show of that, either.  Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they fast, that’s all the praise they’ll get, and that praise won’t last long.

fake fast

Instead, when you fast (67), don’t let other people know it.

Fasting

And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you, and that praise will last forever.

Righteous God, please help me to love being rewarded by You alone.

(66) Matthew 6:16-18

(67) In the days of Jesus’ life & ministry upon the earth, fasting seems to have been more common than in our day. In depriving themselves of things like food & drink for a time, and devoting themselves to the service of others, people found it much easier to focus on God.  Fasting still works this way today.  But fasting is rarely practiced in modern cultures — even though there is so much more of which we might deprive ourselves for a time, and so many more human needs we might serve.

The Mountain: Good Praying

Jesus next warned against praying with strings attached — in contrast to good praying (65):

When you pray, don’t make a big show of that, either. Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they pray, that’s all the praise they’ll get, and that praise won’t last long.

Instead, when you pray, you should normally do it privately.  And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you, and that praise will last forever.

Private Prayer

When you do pray with other believers, don’t use a lot of meaningless words.  That’s what pagans do; they think that their fake gods will hear them because their prayers are so long!

But God already knows what you need before you ask him.  So try keeping it simple & praying together like this:

Praying Together

God, our father in heaven, we want to honor your holy name with our lives; we want you to be our king; we want your will to be done in our lives!

Please, give us today whatever we truly need for today.

Please, help us forgive the wrong things that other people have done to us. Please, forgive the wrong things that we have done to you.

Please, don’t put our faith to the test. Please, keep us safe from your enemies.

Jesus concluded by emphasizing that we must forgive to be forgiven:

If you forgive other people the wrong things they have done to you, God will also forgive you.

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But, if you don’t forgive other people, then God won’t forgive you.

Forgiving God, please help me to love forgiving others as You have forgiven me.

(65) Matthew 6:5-15

The Mountain: Good Giving

Jesus then warned against  giving with any kind of strings attached — in contrast to good giving (64):

giving

Don’t perform your religious duties in public, so people will see how “religious” you are! God will not reward that kind of two-faced religion.  For example, consider giving.

When you give something to person in any kind of need, don’t make a big show of it, as hypocrites do.  Because they want people to praise them, that’s all the praise they’ll get, and that praise won’t last long.

Instead, when you help a person in any kind of need, do it privately.

And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you, and that praise will last forever.

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Generous God, please help me to love giving everything out of love for You.

(64) Matthew 6:1-4

Always Be Ready

Jesus then taught his students the importance of readiness (130):  Always stay focused on God; always be ready to serve God.

God is like a master who comes home from a wedding & finds his servants ready & waiting to serve him, even if he doesn’t return until after midnight.

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In fact, God is so pleased with such faithful servants that he will actually serve them!  God will bless such faithful servants in ways that will make them happy beyond measure.

Keep this in mind, though.  If a homeowner knew that a thief planned to break into his home at a specific time, that homeowner would definitely be home at that time, ready to prevent the break-in.  He would not let the thief break into his house.

However, God’s timing is not predictable like that.  You must always be ready to meet God, because I will return to you at a time when you’re not expecting me.

Peter asked Jesus: “Master, is this teaching for everyone, or just for us?”  Jesus applied his teaching — both to his chosen witnesses and to all his followers – with this illustration:

A master sometimes needs to set a manager over his household.  If the manager carries out his responsibilities effectively & efficiently, the master will reward him & promote him to greater responsibility.

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But if the manager neglects his responsibilities & abuses his position of authority, the master will punish him severely.

The bottom line is this: the more God allows you to do in his service, the more God will expect you to do in his service.

ready

 

(130) Luke 12:35-48