Jesus' Sermon: Perfection in the Law
(6) Jesus sixth and final illustration in this text has to do particularly with love.
Each time Jesus says the word “love” in this passage, He is using the word “agape,” meaning God's kind of love: pure, unselfish, sacrificial.
* You think about the other person and what would be the very best for them, even if there is a personal cost to you.
* The kind of love that flows out from the center of your heart, you really feel it, it isn't pretend.
* Genuine love has a cheerful heart which shows in your smile, in your voice, in your gentle words, and warm affection.
Hopeful, joyful patience that leaves no room for complaining, or blaming, or shaming people.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' (Matthew 5:43 ESV)
God’s law actually says to love your neighbor as yourself, that’s back in Leviticus 19:18. But the Talmud, the rabbinical traditions, added a second part about being allowed to hate your enemies.
"But I say to you, Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44 ESV)
Being kind and considerate, love does not want to hate an enemy, love seeks to change an enemy into a friend. This is what God did with you and me, He kept loving us, and provided everything we needed to become His friend.
Jesus added even more
"...and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44 ESV)
The most revealing test of love comes when love is rejected.
* What do you do when someone twists your motives, doubts your sincerity, or repays your goodness with meanness?
* What happens when you are offended?
* When you work at getting along with people who are not friendly to you, who are on the opposite side of you, who persecute you in some way?
Jesus says love them and pray for them.
Sometimes you and I make up our minds to show love to somebody, no matter how hard it’s going to be, and then find out that we can't keep it up on our own.
That's because this isn't about gritting your teeth on the inside and putting on a command performance of being nice on the outside.
Love is not just an action word. Agape love is about being filled up, heart, soul, and spirit, with God's love through the Holy Spirit, which overflows to other people all the way from the way you talk to how you interact with them.