Stepping It Up

Exploring The Question, "How Should We Respond To Mistreatment?".

Dan Franklin
May 14, 2023    38m
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In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explores our relationships with others and answers the question, "How should we respond to mistreatment?". As we mature in our relationship with Jesus, we will choose to bless others, even our enemies, rather than striking back in anger. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - Stepping It Up
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

McKinley Collier: [00:00:19] Hi, my name is McKinley Collier from Life Kids. And today I will be reading Matthew 5:38 through 48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not 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.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." This is God's Word.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:26] Thank you, McKinley. Good morning, everybody. So I want to share with you and starting off, I want to share with you a famous quote from a great philosopher, Mike Tyson. Some of you will know this quote that I'm about to say, I'll put the first half up for you. Mike Tyson, the boxer, one time said, “Everyone has a plan until..." All right, I love this. "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." And it's obviously in the context of boxing, and the whole idea is that you go in with this entire game plan of how you're going to defeat your opponent. Then you get punched in the mouth and you're back on your heels and you lose all track of what you plan to do. And despite the fact that it's from an unlikely source, I actually feel like in a lot of ways, this is a very profound statement, not just about boxing, but about life, and about the idea that we go into our days with this plan of how we're going to behave. And especially for a lot of us as believers in Jesus, we go into our day and we're like, well, this is how I'm going to conduct myself today, I'm going to be kind to other people, I'm going to be understanding, I'm going to be patient, I'm going to be thoughtful, I'm going to be righteous, I'm going to be godly, this is how I'm going to live today, and then we get punched in the mouth. Usually not literally, but we get punched in the mouth when somebody mistreats us. And when somebody mistreats us in some way, it's so puts us on our heels, it's so disorienting to us that all of the plans go out the window. Now, here's the ironic thing about this, if you're a boxer, if you're taking this literally, if you're a boxer and you're getting into the ring, what should you expect will happen? Yeah, you're going to get punched in the mouth, it will happen. It should not be so surprising that it throws off your entire plan. And if you're more than, let's say, nine months old and you're going through a day, what should you expect is going to happen at some point during that day? You're going to be mistreated, that's just the world that we live in. It shouldn't throw us off, and yet we frequently find that it does. And all of our plans to be understanding and thoughtful and patient and godly go out the window and we just react.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:50] In fact, I want to ask you just to consider this next question. I'm not going to ask you to answer out loud, but how do you respond to being mistreated? Because I think for most of us, it's sort of a mix. We probably think of anger first, where we get angry at being mistreated, but that anger is usually mixed with some sense of feeling debilitatingly sad. And maybe the reason that we're angry is because we have this sort of insecurity that's in all of us as human beings, we have this insecurity that maybe I don't really matter, and then when somebody mistreats you, it just confirms it, I don't matter. And either we respond, we've got to get angry, and we've got to be like, you can't treat me that way because I do matter. Or we just get really sad, and we think maybe they treat me that way because it's true that I really don't matter. How do you respond when you're mistreated?

Dan Franklin: [00:04:47] I just want to say something before we go any further. Whatever got you here this morning, God has you here, and God has something for you this morning. Whether you're bringing in hurt, whether you're bringing in baggage, whether you're like I have a lot of anger because I have a lot of mistreatment, wherever you are, God has something specific, God wants to meet you where you are right now. And where God wants to take us is, from the answer to this question, from however honestly we are answering this, and saying this is how I respond to being mistreated, to how Jesus is going to call us to respond when we're mistreated.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:28] Because we're continuing on today in the Sermon on the Mount. If you have a Bible or you're using your phone as a Bible, you can get to Matthew chapter 5, we're going to go through verses 38 through 48, as you already heard read. And what we get in this passage is we get the final two times that Jesus does something that he does six times throughout Matthew five. This will be the fifth and sixth time that he starts by saying, you have heard it said, and quotes from the Old Testament. And then says, but I say to you, and Jesus keeps upping the ante. He keeps saying, all right, this was a command that you're given, but I'm going to get to the heart of the matter. And Jesus is going to get to the heart of the matter of how he's calling us, the paths he's calling us to choose when we're mistreated. And I'll tell you the two paths right now that we'll go over in these two sections. When we're mistreated, Jesus calls us, first of all, to go farther than is required of us. And then secondly, when we're mistreated, Jesus calls us to go wider than is expected of us. Farther than is required, and wider than is expected.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:35] So let's start to look at this passage together and see how all this comes together. Jesus calls us, first of all, to go farther than is required in verses 38 through 42. So he starts this off, this is the fifth time that he's had this way that he started off a part of this speech. He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." And this is familiar, this is not the first time any of us have heard this idea, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. There might even be somebody in here that's like I've heard that, and I didn't know that was in the Bible. That's the source, this is quoted from multiple passages in the Old Testament, eye for eye and tooth for tooth. And I know as 21st century people, we look at this and it sounds sort of, that sounds pretty brutal. Like you take somebody's eye if they've injured somebody else's eye, you take somebody's tooth if they've injured somebody else's tooth. And there are a couple of things we should understand about how this worked in the Old Testament. The first is that this was not personal, this was judicial. The idea was not here, hey, if somebody injures you, you go out and injure them. It's that you take them to court, and the court applies a punishment that's in fitting with the crime, that sort of is in proportion to the crime.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:47] And the other element, the other reason why this was put into law, into the Old Testament was because it curbed escalation. Because typically, if you just think about how we respond when we're mistreated, if somebody mistreats you, most of us don't say, well, here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to mistreat them, but only in the exact same proportion to how they mistreated me. Most of us up the ante, most of us are like, oh, you told three people something unflattering about me. I'm going to tell the whole Internet something about you, this curved escalation. No, if they injured your eye, you don't get to go and injure both of their eyes, just an eye for an eye. You don't get to go knock out their whole mouth full of teeth because they knocked out one tooth; eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, it curves escalation. And by the way, Jesus is about to take us deeper than this, but if we just did this, in the United States if we said we're just going to stick to this, we're only going to have our response that's in keeping with how we were mistreated, we're not going to escalate, things would get better. If we just did this, it would be better than what we typically do.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:36] But Jesus has something even better for us in verse 39, he says, "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person." And so if they injure your eye, you can go and you can have their eye injured. Or typically the way that it was handled was in a monetary way, they had to sort of pay something in proportion to the injured eye. He says, yeah, that's technically allowed, but I'm going to tell you, do not resist an evil person. And I'll admit, just even putting the statement up here on the screen right now, this statement feels wrong. This just feels like, what do you mean? We're Christians, and we are supposed to resist evil. And we are supposed to resist evil, what in the world does Jesus mean?

Dan Franklin: [00:09:37] Well, we're going to find out what he means because he gives four examples of what he means and that sheds light on this statement. I'll put them all up here on the screen right now in verses 39 through 42. This is what Jesus means by do not resist an evil person. Four examples, in verse 39, "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." Now this is the most famous of the four, and it's important to understand that what's being described here is less physical assault and more public insult. The idea here is not about don't use self-defense when somebody is attacking you, and more about the idea that somebody might shame you publicly by slapping you probably with the back of the hand on the cheek. It's almost like if you've ever watched one of those medieval movies with the knights and they come up, they take off their glove and they slap the other knight to challenge them to a duel. The other knight is not like, oh, my cheek. It's just a public affront, that's what Jesus is talking about here. Although as we know from recent history, even in our own country, a public slap can be a pretty big deal, so it was back then also, Jesus says instead of striking back, you choose to absorb the blow and even show that you're willing to handle another one.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:54] Verse 40, the second example. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. And this actually, if we understand Old Testament Israelite law, this makes a lot of sense because if you owed somebody money and you weren't able to pay them, they could take you to court and sue you and you would have to give up your shirt or an article of clothing. But what they couldn't make you give up was your coat, the coat was off limits because it not only provided warmth, but it usually doubled as a bed for poorer people. So they said, okay, you can go and you can sue them, you can't sue anybody for their coat, that's off limits. So Jesus depicts a situation in which you're before the judge, and they say you have to give up your shirt, but don't worry, you don't have to give up your coat. And you say, take the coat, I freely give it.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:44] The third example, verse 41, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." And this is referring to a practice that happened in Israel because the Romans were occupying the land of Israel during this time. And the law was that any Roman soldier at any point could point to an Israelite man and say, you have to travel with me for one mile carrying my equipment. By the way, how much do you think the Jews liked this law? Like, are you kidding me, like, I'm heading out to my job, and I'm going to try to catch some fish to feed my family, and my whole day just got hijacked because the Roman soldier says, nope, drop what you're doing and pick up my armor one mile, it was limited to one mile, they couldn't make the Israelite go any further than that, and so you can almost imagine the Israelite counting the steps, and then once he gets up to one mile, being like, I am not going one inch further than that, that's all you can make me do. But Jesus says no, freely offer to go another mile. He can't make you do it but go ahead and offer to do it.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:48] And then finally he ends in verse 42 with "Five to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow for you." Here's what these all have in common, and this is why I gave it the header to go farther than is required. In all of these examples, Jesus is saying freely, go farther than anyone can legally require you to go. Don't just stop at saying I'm not going to escalate the mistreatment, don't even just stop at saying I'm going to choose not to strike back, he is talking about active blessing in response to mistreatment.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:26] Now, I do want to pause and recognize for some of you all kinds of alarm bells are going off in your head. You're like, I've read a boundaries book, I'm not sure where this fits into this, there are all kinds of questions. And so what I want to do is I want to clarify, but I want to make sure in the clarification that I'm not taking the teeth out of Jesus' words here because these are words that are meant to be shocking. So a couple of points of clarification. If you're looking at this and you're like, is Jesus exaggerating here? Yes, he is. Not as dramatically as he was earlier in the passage where he said, if your right eye causes you to sin, what are you supposed to do? He says, gouge it out, throw it away. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Everybody listening to that would have known. He's making a point; he's using hyperbole to make the point to be willing to sacrifice dramatically in order to fight against sin. And here, if you're reading verse 42 and you're like, give to everyone eye, that's not possible to give to everyone who asks of you. I mean, you're at the grocery store at the end of the line and they're always asking you to give to someone, and you're walking by people. And if you're a parent, you're like, always give to my kids what they ask, like ice cream at 10:30 at night, every night, this is not going to go well. So, yes, Jesus is exaggerating, but he's exaggerating to make the point and to paint the picture of the idea that we would freely be willing to give beyond what anybody can require of us.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:54] And the second point of clarification is that this is personal, not judicial. Jesus is not here saying, well, we shouldn't have prisons, or we shouldn't have laws or courts or anything like that. What he's talking about are four scenarios where you would be the person to suffer the loss if you did what Jesus said, it would be a personal offense or a personal sacrifice in some way. So Jesus is not here saying don't oppose evil when other people are being oppressed. Jesus did that, Jesus opposed the Pharisees when they were laying burdens on the backs of the people, but Jesus did not strike back when he was attacked. So he's talking about personal offense, you've suffered personal offense and you're choosing not to strike back, you're choosing to bless people instead by going farther than can be required of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:43] Now, I want to pause, and I want to ask a question that I want you to think about, maybe it's one you've already been thinking about. What kind of person would do this? I mean, really, what kind of a person would behave this way? What kind of a person would not only choose not to strike back, but would openly welcome mistreatment and then be willing to bless in return, going farther than anybody would imagine is reasonable? What kind of person would do this? The answer we'd be tempted to give is a pushover. A pushover, somebody with no self-respect, that's the kind of person who would do this. But that's not the right answer, the right answer to who would do this is a person who is so radically free that they don't feel compelled to defend themselves. Somebody who has been so liberated from the need to prove their worth because they know their worth before God that they're willing to say, yeah, want me to go another mile with you? Yeah, want to take my coat as well. Yeah, I was going to use this money for something else, but you want some of it. Somebody who is so radically free that they know that their worth is not threatened by the mistreatment that they're suffering. And let's be real about this, that's what's usually happening inside of us when we're being mistreated.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:08] I don't know if you ever feel this way, but you ever feel like as you're going through life, everybody that you encounter sort of has a secret scorecard for you. You're just sort of going through and they're rating you on stuff. Like I remember feeling this way, especially when I was in junior high in high school. You know, the one thing that they tell you when you're in junior high and high school is like, you know, you're going to the party or you're going to the gathering and you're worrying what everybody else is thinking about you. And they're like, don't worry, nobody's thinking about you, they're all worried about what everybody's thinking about them. That may be true, but that does not feel true. When you're going through those times, you feel like everybody, every coach, every teacher, every classmate, everybody that you're interacting with, they're sort of secretly scoring you on your clothes and on your height and on what your hair looks like and how well you're doing in your classes. And as adults, we might like to think we get over that, but most of us don't really get over that. Most of us are still going through our lives feeling like people are constantly ranking us and rating us on how we're behaving and how well we're doing in life. And that's why when somebody gives us a bad rating, we lose it because our whole sense of our importance is wrapped up in that. What would it be like, though, to recognize that there's only one scorecard that matters? What would it be like to look at somebody else's ranking and maybe they even show you a very unflattering rating of yourself? And you're like, that's unpleasant, but who I am is not threatened in any way by that because there is one judge and only one judge who gets a vote. And you know what that one judge did? That one judge said that you are so valuable to him that he would send his son to die for you. You are free from needing to prove yourself to other people, and that means you can freely bless instead of striking back.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:04] In fact, quick, quick story on this. I think I've shared this before, but this happened a few years ago when it was a politically sort of intense time, and I ended up in this weird online conversation with somebody that I kind of knew, but he was really upset about something that I said online. And if you see things that I say online, they're typically not inflammatory. But this guy was really upset and felt like I needed to be on his side of the debate, and I got to a point where I kind of said to him, hey, I think we've just got to agree to disagree. Like you ever said that to somebody? You're like, hey, we just need to agree to disagree. He disagreed, he was like, no, we're not doing that. And I was like, I don't know what to do for this guy. I'm like, you're entitled to your opinion. He was like, you're not entitled to your opinion. It was not going well, nothing was going to happen, and I ended up I mean, I wrote these words and I promise it wasn't passive-aggressive. It will sound passive-aggressive, but it was just where things were at, I said, I'm going to have to find a way to deal with your disapproval of me. And that was just where things were, I don't recommend that you always say that to somebody in this situation because it could sound...But I was just like, I don't know how to move forward other than the fact that I'm just going to have to be okay with the fact that you're out there disapproving of me. I'm going to have to find a way to live with your disapproval of me. And let me tell you, it wasn't that hard. I'm not trying to be mean to him, but it wasn't that hard. Do you know why? Because there's one judge, there's one judge. Man, when you let that go, suddenly you find out I can return blessing for cursing because I don't need to prove that that person can't get away with it. I get to instead give kindness where I'm receiving mistreatment because I'm free.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:44] And when you do this, one of the beautiful things that happens is it doesn't guarantee that things are going to be fixed between you and the other person. There's that great verse in Proverbs 15:1 where it says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." Sort of like if you answer somebody gently, it's going to bring reconciliation. And all of us are like, not always, Not always, but sometimes. And sometimes when you do that, you open the door for reconciliation, and God loves reconciliation. In fact, Paul says this at the end of Romans 12 when he's been talking about not taking revenge because God is the one judge. He says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." In other words, sometimes what brings the reconciliation with the other person is not that you match their hostility and then they respond, but that you meet their hostility with good. And then the door is opened up, the crazy cycle is stopped. It takes two people to keep a fight going, and it only takes one person to stop the fight. You may not be able to make reconciliation happen, but you can open the door for it. And the second thing that happens is, at the very least, even if the other person never responds, the cycle of evil has stopped with us, and we have not been overcome by the evil temptations that we're facing. Jesus says, here's what you do if you are radically free because of what God has done for you in Jesus, you go farther than is required of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:02] And now in the next section, he's going to give us another path. He's going to say not only to go farther than is required but to go wider than is expected. So for the sixth and final time, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’" And if you know the Bible, this one's a head-scratcher because you're like all the other times that Jesus said this, that he said, you have heard it said he quoted directly from the Old Testament. This time, the first half, we're like, yeah, I'm on board with that, love your neighbor, that's all over the Old Testament. Hate your enemy is not in the Old Testament, so we're like, what is going on? Why does Jesus act like it was? Here seems to be why he does this; Jesus seems to be not only quoting from the Old Testament but talking about how this was being applied by modern Jews at his time. That he's saying the way that this is being applied is that they say, love my neighbor, and that means basically love the people in my circle. So maybe for some people that would be all Jews, all right, all Jews are in the circle. Maybe for others, it would be like all Jews except for tax collectors because they betrayed us. Maybe for others, it would be like all Jews except the Pharisees because we don't like them, or all Jews except the zealots, because they're crazy. But you'd have a circle and you'd be like, yeah, love my neighbor in that circle. Anybody outside of that circle, fair game. I don't have any responsibilities towards them, whether it's Romans, whether it's tax collectors, whether it's the guy who sued me because of a property dispute. Whatever it is, there are people inside the circle, and I'm called to love them. There are people outside the circle, no responsibilities toward them.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:50] By the way, what I'm describing should probably sound familiar to most of us because this is how most of us function. If they are people within my circle, I'll be good to them. If there are people outside my circle, who cares about them? I want you to pause right now, maybe you've already been thinking about it, think of who your enemies are. We don't usually talk in these terms in the 21st century in Southern California, we don't think of enemies. Who are the opponents? Who are the people that you work with, the people that you go to school with? Who are the people who have wronged you and hurt you, whether it's from a long time ago or it's just an ongoing recent phenomenon? Who are your enemies? Who are your opponents? And Jesus is about to call us to widen our circle because he says in verse 44, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Jesus says we've all got a circle, and we're like, I'll be good to those people, everybody else is outside. Jesus says, widen it, and if enemies are included in that circle, then everyone is included in that circle. Jesus says, go farther than anybody can require you to go and go wider than anybody would expect you to go, where your love includes your enemies.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:10] We'll come back to this in a minute, but notice the next thing that Jesus says after he says, love your enemies. He says, "Pray for those who persecute you." There are lots of ways we can love our enemies, prayer, apparently, was something that Jesus wanted to highlight right away. We'll come back to that in a minute. But we could ask the question, why? Why love my enemies? Jesus tells us in verse 45, He says, "That you may be children of your Father in heaven." He says, when you love your enemies, you're acting like the father because he loves his enemies. And he describes how he loves his enemies. He says he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:49] Now, I know we're in California, so it doesn't get really cold here, it gets, I like to call it California cold for us. We're just like it's 55 degrees at night and we're like, get the heater on, gather around, put on six jackets, you know? But sometimes it gets cold enough that we're cold. So imagine you're cold, and then the sun finally starts to shine through the clouds. And you know that feeling when it just, it hits you on the back and you feel it on the shoulders, and it just feels like this warm embrace, you know, that feeling? Do you know who God does that for? He does that for his children, and he does that for his enemies, they both get the Son. He talks about the rain, it says, "He sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." And this is probably talking about the fact that he needed rain for crops. So God didn't do something where he was like, this person gets rain, and this person, nothing. It's not like The Truman Show with this very localized rain. He's saying he sends rain even on the unrighteous. God loves his enemies and is good to his enemies.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:56] In fact, this goes even further because the apostle Paul says something in Romans five that we should take into account right now, about how God loves his enemies. In Romans 5:10, Paul says, "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Who were God's enemies? We were God's enemies. Everybody in here is either still an enemy of God because you're still saying, no, I'm not going to put my faith in Jesus, or you used to be an enemy of God before he radically saved you through Jesus. How does God treat his enemies? He sends his Son to die for them. So Jesus says, when you act this way, you're acting like God, you're showing off God to the world.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:49] And then he gives this deep rebuke in verses 46 and 47. He says, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" Hey, but Jesus is making the point. Even the people who've betrayed Israel to get rich with Rome, even they're loving people within their circle, you're not doing anything special when you're doing that. And he says, "And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" Don't even the godless nations that don't have the benefit of God's law do that also? Jesus is pointing toward the idea that if we're patting ourselves on the back saying, The people in my circle, I treat them well. Jesus is saying that's what everybody does, we are looking to shine the light of God to the world around us, and that doesn't happen when you just love those in your circle, that happens when you widen the circle so that even enemies, even opponents, even the most unlikely people, end up getting included in that.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:56] A whole bunch of years ago, when I was in college, I was complaining to my best friend. And I was complaining because we were in Israel at the time studying for a semester, and there were about 30 of us that were part of this as students, and there was one person on the trip that I just couldn't stand. I don't know if it would be fair to call her an enemy, but like she was not part of the circle. She really, really drove me nuts, and I felt like I had valid reasons. It wasn't just a personality thing, valid reasons for disliking her. And I was complaining to my friend, I thought that what he was going to say was, you're right, Dan, on everything you've just said, like a good friend would have done. But instead, my friend said this. He said, you know, I've learned that if there's somebody that I feel a lot of animosity in my heart towards, I should start praying for them every day. And I was like, what a jerk. I mean, seriously, kick a guy while he's down. And of course, he was right, and thankfully, I started doing it. And you know what I noticed? I noticed God doing a transforming work in my heart through that. I may have had some legitimate grounds for being ticked at her, but it was not at the level that my insides were at, and God did a deep work within me through that.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:22] Man, maybe there's somebody right now and you're just like, they are outside the circle. I don't even want them in the circle, I don't want to see them, I don't want to talk to them, they are outside. Maybe because of something they've done, maybe because of something that they represent, maybe because of something that they're doing in an ongoing way. There are many ways to love our enemies. Let's start with the one that Jesus mentions, let's start with praying for those who persecute us, praying for those who are opposed to us. And not praying in the way that you might think of praying.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:54] About a week and a half ago, a bunch of us were in this room, probably about 30 or 40 of us, and it was National Day of Prayer. So just a small group of us gathered to pray for, amongst other things, to pray for our elected officials. And so I was at a table when we were doing this, and we were praying for the president, and we were praying for Governor Newsom. And like I'm just going to say, sometimes you can kind of tell where people's political leaning is. Nobody was saying it, but I kind of was like, I don't think everybody here is a huge fan of the president. I don't think everybody here is a huge fan of the governor. But when we prayed for them, the prayers weren't, God, get him. Like, come on, God, they weren't that at all. They were prayers that were more like this. Father, I can't imagine how difficult it is to do this job. I can't imagine the pressure and the stress, and just all of the different things going on. So, Father, give your divine wisdom by your Holy Spirit, bring along helpful counselors, and help them to stand for justice and mercy. Guide them, Lord, and bless their families. Reveal yourself to them. It was prayers like that. And I know that some of the people praying that would have felt like, well, if they're not enemies, they're opponents, they're on the wrong side, they're not within the circle. But the prayers were not for God's judgment, the prayers were for God's blessing.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:17] Right now you feel stuck. Right now, you're like, I've got an opponent, I don't know what to do. Don't skip the step of prayer. One more thing because Jesus throws one more statement in, that's not only the last statement in this section but seems to be the last statement of these six things that he's talked about. In verse 48, he says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.". And we're all like, well, thanks for throwing that in there. Just like, oh, by the way, one parting thought, just go ahead and be perfect. Like, no problem, I'll just go out and be perfect. Well, here, when Jesus says to be perfect, part of what, once again, I don't want to take the teeth out of this, but the word perfect here used in the Greek, it's less the idea of sort of flawlessness that we sometimes think of when we hear the word perfect, and it's more of the idea of being complete, coming to full maturity. And that's what Jesus has been talking about all throughout these six statements that He's made. He's saying, you know what? It's not full maturity if you're just not murdering people, it's when you're dealing with the anger in your heart. And it's not full maturity when you're just not committing adultery, but when you're dealing with the lust in your heart. And it's not full maturity when you're only avoiding divorce when you're not supposed to do it, but when you're really seeking faithfulness in your marriage. And it's not full maturity when you keep your word when you technically promised, but when you always keep your word. And in these passages, it's not full maturity when you just don't escalate, and it's not full maturity when you narrow your circle, full maturity is showing off God to the world when we live in a way that we are freely giving blessings where we've been mistreated.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:05] So let me ask a couple of questions of us. I've kind of already alluded to this first question, but who are your opponents? Who are your enemies? Who are the people outside the circle right now? And you may have specific people in mind, again, it might be a classmate, might be a coworker, might be a literal neighbor, might be some member of your extended family. I don't say this to be funny, but some of you might be like Mother's Day? You don't know my mom. And some of you might be like Mother's Day? You don't know my kids. Maybe there's some estrangement, and you need not only to start praying for that person, but you need God to do some healing in your heart because you'd be saying, you know what, the way that they treated me, it made me feel like maybe I don't matter to God. And I want you to know that you do matter to God intensely. Where you were his enemy, he drew you in.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:02] And the second question that I want to ask that I already alluded to earlier, and that's do you want to be free? Some of us hear these commands from Jesus and we're like, this is so burdensome, loving my enemies, he's asking so much of me. No, he's inviting you to freedom, he's inviting you to take off those chains of resentment and hatred and retaliation, he's inviting you to get out of the vicious cycle of returning evil for evil. The question for all of us is, how free do we actually want to be? Do we want to still be stuck in this saying I have my rights, or do we want to be liberated by Jesus?

Dan Franklin: [00:35:46] So here's what we're going to do. In a moment, I'm going to pray for us. But before I do, I want to invite just pastors, elders, and prayer team members to go ahead and come to the front and prepare for this time afterwards. Because during this time, I know for some of you, here's going to be the next step. For some of you, you've got the person in mind, you're going to take the advice that that jerk of a friend gave to me all those years ago, and you're going to start praying for those people. But what you need to do first is you need to come and say, I need you, I need one of my leaders to pray for me because I don't think I'm going to do it. I don't think I'll do it; my heart is too hard toward them. And for some of you, what you might need to come forward in is saying, I'm not even there yet. I am so broken over the way that I've been mistreated, I will never get to that other side unless I experience God bringing some healing to myself. And what I want to advise you is don't just try to do that on your own, get some help on that. And the people up here would love to do that and would love to pray for you. So I'm going to ask you to bow your heads and I'm going to pray for all of us right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:52] Father, thank you that you don't simply validate or leave us in our anger and in our retaliation and in our thirst for justification, thank you that you rescue us. Thank you that you did rescue us when we were your enemies, and we deserved nothing but judgment from you. Thank you for Jesus and thank you for these words from Jesus. Father, liberate us from the cycle of retaliation, set us free, and help us to know in our guts how deeply you love us so that we're free when other people don't show us that value. Father, help us to forgive where we need to forgive today, help us to heal where we need to heal, and help us to open the door for friendship to people that the world would be shocked if we would end up friends. Tell your story, Father, through us, the story of a Father who would send his Son for his enemies. We pray this in the name of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:05] God bless you today. Have a wonderful rest of your Sunday and a blessed rest of your Mother's Day.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848