A Godward Love to All
A Godward Love to All
When we think of family we probably think of a close group of people, connected by blood, bonded together, laughing together, aggravating each other, and through thick and thin there for each other.
The Bible speaks highly of the family unit. God designed people to be together. God speaks to Abraham and says that through him and his family He is going to bless all the other families and nations. Abraham is to teach his family how to honor the Lord. In the Old Testament the people of God are grouped by families. Jesus taught on the importance of marriage and family. When the disciples found Jesus the first thing they did was go tell family members about it. Paul instructed the church to care for their family first and that those who do not have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:4). The family has a central role in God’s plan.
But while family is a primary social structure, it also experiences the fall and is also a place of grievous sins. The first sin occured in the context of the first marriage, the first murder in the Bible occurred between two brothers. The patriarch Jacob would lie to his father and steal from his brother. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. David’s son tried to kill him and take his throne. Brothers desecrated the sacrifices in the temple. There are rapes, and murders, and wars that all occur in the family.
Family in the Bible is more like watching the Godfather than the Brady Bunch.
The family is created by God, consists of His image bearers and is good, but it also consists of flawed, sinful, and rebellious image bearers. We have to see the good of it, but we also have to see the great need families have for a redeemer.
Today I want to look at a passage that deals with the topic of love. Love is ultimately what holds families together. And yet as we see the problems in families it means loving will be hard. The people we are closest to are also the ones we hurt and sin against the most. And they do the same to us. One of the ways we can make a difference in our families is by loving them well, and we will need God’s help to do that. This passage teaches how to have a Godward love for all.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)
Prop: We are to have a Godward love to all those in our family. We can’t make excuses for not loving. God commands us to love others as we love ourself. Our love to difficult people is to be like His. He is our example of loving and doing good to those who persecute us in unrighteousness.
Love Your Family
Loving family can be hard. Family is a relationship we don’t get to choose. You don’t get to pick your parents, your siblings, or cousins, etc. But you do get to choose if you will love them. Most of us pick who we will hang out with. We pick who our friends are on social media. Family doesn’t allow us to pick. And we have to love them.
Familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes we get so used to the people we are around and we take them for granted. It becomes easy to not help your brother, or ignore them, or make fun of them. It becomes easy to neglect celebrating the things your wife does or enjoys. We get too familiar, comfortable, and lazy.
We need to feel the weight of the command to love our neighbors, even those we share a house with.
In this passage you can see how people can justify not loving others. Jesus begins this passage quoting the contemporary teaching and then quoting scripture, and we see a big difference in the two.
You have heard it said, (Popular saying):
You shall love your neighbors and hate your enemies.”
Lev 19:18 says,(Scripture):
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”
First, is that the law doesn’t just say “to love your neighbor.” Lev 19 adds a further qualification “to love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s easy to say you love someone, but have you loved them like you love yourself. They altered how they were to love.
Second, they said it was OK to hate your enemy. The law never said this. If the first change about loving your neighbor was perhaps a slight oversight, this is a bold lie. Now they probably thought that since Lev said not to seek revenge or hold a grudge against “one of your people,” that “one of your people” only referred to those of Israel. This was interpreted to mean that a person should love other Israelites, and that it was then OK to hate those outside the nation. Hating them was justified, because it only said to love your neighbor, and these were not neighbors. But this is not in accord with other passages. It was a false interpretation.
So what has happened here is the peoples’ interpretation of the law both narrowed the scope of who they were to love and how they were to love them. They weren’t living by God’s word but by popular approval.
Jesus is using a literary device known as a merism. If you're not familiar with this or perhaps literary terms make your cringe with bad memories from elementary school relax this is really quite simple. A merism is a figure of speech in which two opposites are used to show the all-encompassing nature of something. So Psalm 1 says the blessed man “meditates on the word day and night.” What does that mean? It means he meditates on it all the time. If we are to love our enemies then certainly we should love our family.
Jesus calls us to love everyone. There is no person to whom the light and warmth of our love should not touch.
You may think well I'll love my dad, but not my step mom or step brother. I'll love my so and so, but Uncle Tom did this years ago and I'm not going to love him. No, Jesus calls us to love all people and love them the way we love ourselves. Be honest.
When people oppose you, talk down on you, persecute you, or attack you, don’t back down. Stand your ground and love them. Francis Schaffer stand against the world with a tear in our eye.
Jesus calls us to love. We have to note here that love is a verb, therefore loving others requires us doing something. When talking about enemies it is easy to, and even advantageous to define our love for them in the negative, as though love is demonstrated by the absence of hostility. I didn’t hit you.
Guardians of the galaxy. Quill is talking to Yondu, and Yondu tells Quill he should thank him for saving his life. To which Quill says I shouldn’t have to thank you for not eating me, normal people don’t eat each other. Sometimes we treat our family like that. Of course I love you... I haven’t eaten you have I! Our family sees the best and worst of us. You are going to see them at their worst. It may feel like at times they are against you. But you are to love them by doing positive things for them.
Love them in the ways they want to be loved and the ways they want or need to be loved.
-Spend time together: often we don’t know how to love others because we don't really know the person. This is how marriages drift. Spouses stop paying attention to one another. They focus on themselves.
-Study each other. Work at it. Like a load of wood.
-true love does not stop. Love never ceases (1 Cor 13:). Patiently bearing with the infirmities and even offenses of others.
How do we love others when they are not loving us. We look upward.
“Nothing opens one up to more potential for hurt, for more vulnerability, than being part of a family. Parents can nurture you, but they can also reject you. A spouse can love you but can also leave you. Children can bring joy but just might one day ask for that inheritance early and head off for a pigsty of rebellion in a far country. I don’t mind working hard for my family but I wince at the thought of one day needing my family to empty my bedpan and wipe my drooling mouth. And yet that vulnerability is what God uses to conform us to Christ.” Moore 20
We need to love others even when it is hard, uncomfortable. Loving others means being kind, compassionate, caring, to them. It doesn’t mean we are their best friend.
Some of you have experienced deep hurts that are not to be overlooked. You still need to show love to that person, but it doesn’t mean you act like your relationship is restored to the ideal. You show love but there may still be elements of brokenness. You should be faithful before God and trust him with results. You may need to stand against people but do it with love. Certain things you need to stand against and oppose, in love.
For example in the case of abuse you have been hurt, you are called to love them but love them involves notifying authorities. These civil servants are there to do good to others.
Part of learning to love others in difficult situations is letting go of vengeance. We are all going to stand before the judgement seat of God. You need to do what is right but you don’t need to carry the weight of judging them.
Follow God’s Example
Here we see our example for loving others, even those who hurt us and persecute us unrighteously, is the example of how our heavenly father loves us.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
Our example for loving others, even our enemies, is that God is good to all—even to those who hate and oppose him. God is good to everyone. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He causes the sun to rise on the good and the evil. He is good even to those who oppose him.
This is amazing to think about. Those who resist God. Those who are evil and unrighteous. Who oppose him and resist his ways. God is still good to them. He is gracious to them. He gives them life and breath. He gives them food to eat.
I can remember in college. We were all broke so we set the AC on like 98 in the summer. Another friend would come in and turn it to like 60. It was amazing how angry I would get at him. It seemed like such a big deal. And it was more that he knew we didn’t want it on but he did it anyway.
I prayed fire might rain down from heaven and show him his wicked ways. I would get so upset. And God did not answer my prayer to rebuke him. I saw God’s kindness in his life in many ways. We can get so angry at people and it is good for us to remember that God loves them. If anyone has a right to be angry at selfishness, unrighteousness it is God. And yet he still does good to them. He causes the rain to come upon the righteous and the wicked. That is a good thing because no one needs God’s grace more than me. We need to learn to love like he does.
In spite of their rebellion God is good, and while this can perplex us at times, this is where it gets even more amazing and more provoking. The term there for enemies is also used to describes our relationship to God at some point. The Bible says we have all been alienated and hostile in mind to God (Col 1:21). It says that we were enemies to God (Rom 5:10).
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Rom 5:10 ESV)
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, (Col 1:21 ESV)
As we ponder how God could be good to enemies we must realize that all sin comes out of enmity to God and deserves punishment. God gave righteous commands to be obeyed and yet we have broken them constantly in thought, word, and deed. He would have been just to strike us down in our opposition the moment thoughts of resisting him began to curdle in our minds. But he showed us kindness and mercy.
The Son of God was persecuted and crucified by his enemies, and yet even at the crucifixion God did not instantly destroy his enemies. We deserved to be cast out because of our sin. Yet Jesus died that we might be brought into the family of God. We can be children of God through Jesus.
God is our standard for how to love others. We can never say since so and so treated me like this, then I will treat them like that. We cannot look to others for the basis or example of our love.
The people had found ways to lessen what God commanded, and now it seems he is directing them to whole hearted and complete obedience without any type of compromise. The gospel changes us. It changes how we love, who we love, the extent of our love. God forgave us for yesterdays sins, for today’s sins. Then certainly we can find ways to forgive others.
Stand strong in love. Stand strong against family or other difficult people. To love those who are persecuting you takes great strength. To stand and not run demonstrates power. Uncomfortable when you cannot control, cannot change, cannot force, become dependent. God is teaching you how great his love is.
We need families saturated in the grace of God.
“The primary trouble going on in most Christian marriages is not that we don’t grasp how to live together (although that is certainly part of it). Our primary trouble instead is that we don’t grasp fully enough the gospel by which we’ve been saved, the gospel we’ve been called to carry to the world.”Quote on the gospel, Moore123.
When God empowers you to treat others as he treats you, there’s not a single part of your life that escapes the impact of the gospel… you love your enemies… you can take initiative in resolving conflict… you can admit your own faults… you can make conflict an opportunity to witness. Ken Sande, Resolving Everyday Conflict, p32.
Maybe in your relational conflicts God is teaching you how to love; teaching you how to love like he does. When you have young kids, there are a lot of squalls over all sorts of things. They are young, immature, and don’t always know how to handle themselves. A lot of adults have squalls because they are young, immature, and don’t know how to handle themselves.
Our primary failure is to not love in a godlike way. That was the problem with all those mentioned earlier in the Bible. Open your Bible and read as a family. Talk about it. Confess your wrongs. Pray for each others hurts.
The primary way we restore relationships is not through new methodologies but through repentance. Confessing our sins and shortcomings. Those shortcomings to each other and also to God. This is how we are reconciled to God. It is how we are reconciled to others.
Is the work of Christ actively affecting the way you treat others?
Have you found ways to minimize who you love and how you love them?
Are you aware of how gracious God has been to you?
How can you show the love of God to others?
Is there anything that is preventing you from receiving from God and experiencing healing?