Enemies Who Have Been Loved
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: First-century Jewish leaders had no problem with the command to “love one’s neighbor as oneself,” but they had a very narrow definition of neighbor. Only someone who was racially, ethnically, culturally and religiously just like them fit that description. Yet, Jesus radically redefines neighbor and shockingly expands the command to love, to include even one’s enemies, thus exposing, again, the folly of those who would claim to have fully satisfied God’s requirements.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. Are there people in your life who are persecuting you? What are some specific ways that you can love your enemies?
2. Read verse 45b. In what sense does God give good things to all people?
3. What does it mean to be a hoarder of God’s grace? Are there categories of people that you tend to believe are unworthy of God’s grace?
4. Why is the fact that we are enemies who have been loved even more mind-boggling than a command to love our enemies?
5. Is the command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (verse 48) an impossible standard meant to drive us to a Savior OR is it an ideal toward which we should humbly strive? Explain your answer. (Hint: It’s a bit of a trick question:)
1. Read Matthew 5:43-48
2. “These [words] crush me to the ground. They show me my utter helplessness. … There is nothing that so leads to the gospel and its grace as the Sermon on the Mount.” – Martin Lloyd-Jones
3. Read Matthew 5:43
4. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” – Colossians 3:19
5. 01. To love our enemies means to earnestly desire (and prayerfully seek) their ultimate good.
6. “To love our enemies is ardently to desire that they will repent and believe, and so be saved.” – John Stott
7. “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. … The eyes of all look to you and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” – Psalm 145:9, 15-16
8. 02. Only by a Spirit-granted awareness of what God has done for us in Christ are we able to love our enemies.
9. Read Matthew 5:46-47
10. 03. Every step we take toward the law to justify ourselves, we become increasingly blinded to our need for grace.