“What Jesus Said About Relationships”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. One of the most dangerous things in which people get involved is revenge. When someone does something to us, or hurts our feelings, or does not treat us in a way we believe to be fair, we are tempted to take revenge. We want to get even. We might even want to hurt that person in a similar or even greater way. Yet, that is not what Jesus wants His followers to do. The apostle Paul wrote these words in Romans 12 verse 19, <Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.> There is no need for us to take revenge on those who do us wrong, or who treat us in an unkind way, because God will take care of it. He sees and knows what is happening in our life, and He will make things right. With that in mind, instead of taking revenge, we can spend our time treating people the way we want to be treated. Instead of reacting to something bad, we can take the initiative or be proactive in treating people the right way. We will talk about Jesus’ teaching on that very thing, in our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom.” He reminds those who are His disciples about the way we are to live in relationship with one another. I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes, as we open up our hearts and our Bibles to study together.
Early on in Jesus' public ministry, many people followed after Him. They wanted to know more about the One who claimed to be the Son of God. And as they did, they benefited greatly from that. Many people were healed of their sicknesses and diseases. Hungry people were fed. Some people were even raised from the dead. Well, the people benefited from Jesus' teaching, as well. He taught things the people had never heard before; and, His teaching was more inspiring and insightful and life changing than the teachers of the past. His words changed their lives. And as the people listened to and applied that teaching, it made a difference in the way they lived. At least 500 times in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as a teacher. Yes, He was the greatest teacher of all time. He was the Rabbi, the One who had come from God. And in that teaching, Jesus explained things in the Law that were confusing. At the same time, He also taught some things that were quite challenging. But ultimately, Jesus wanted His followers to move from being a follower to being a committed disciple. He called upon them to make some lifestyle changes, as they adjusted their thinking and their behavior. And in the midst of all of that, Jesus never said it would be easy. It would not be a convenient way of life that would be free from any kind of pain or problems. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite; that, this kind of lifestyle would call upon you to make a sacrifice, and for some it would even cost them their very lives. Well, some of Jesus' most familiar teaching is found in the Gospel of Matthew. In three chapters, chapters 5, 6 and 7, we find what has commonly been called the Sermon on the Mount. Some people believe that this is simply a collection of sayings and teachings from Jesus over His public ministry; and, perhaps that is true. Others believe that what Jesus stated here in these three chapters was a summary of a message, or a sermon, that He shared to a large group of people on the grassy slopes to the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee; and, perhaps that is true. But whatever the case might be, we know that these words come from Jesus. And at the end of that message, at the end of chapter 7, we find this statement, in verse 28: <When Jesus had finished saying these things, the people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the Law.> Indeed, Jesus was the greatest teacher of all time. And when we study some of Jesus' teachings, we too will be amazed at His words. We too will stand in awe of how His teaching can impact our lives. Within these three chapters, we find some of Jesus' most important statements. And obviously, everything that Jesus said was important and worthy of our attention. But here in chapter 7, Jesus says some things that I want us to consider for the next few minutes. He taught about the importance of not judging other people. And He added to that, the need to treat people the way we want to be treated. His words are quite challenging; and we find them here in the 7th chapter. Let's read verses 1 and 2, and then also verse 12. <“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”> And now verse 12: <“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”> Well, we know that last statement, verse 12, as the Golden Rule. There is a book, called The Message, and The Message is basically a summary, or a paraphrase, of the Word of God; and, The Message puts into common and every day language the words that we find in the Bible. I want to read these three verses, verses 1, 2 and 12, from The Message: “Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults- unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging;” and then verse 12, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” You know, these two passages, here in Matthew chapter 7, give us a great summary of how Jesus’ disciples can have a good relationship with other people. We are to treat people with dignity and respect. And as we do, we are saying this is the way I want to be treated. We also don't stand in judgment of other people, because if we do, and use the wrong criteria, then that can be used against us. Well, this basically is a reflection of how God treats us. He loves us. He treats us with dignity and respect. Jesus also said something there about the Law and the Prophets; that this teaching, here in these verses, sums up everything that was taught in the Law and Prophets. And we know they emphasize two things, love for God and love for people. The great statement, perhaps, that summarizes people's love for God is found in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 4 and 5: <Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.> Well, there it is. That is the greatest commandment; to love God with everything we have. But then, love for other people is perhaps summarized best in Leviticus 19 verse 18: <“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord."> We are to love people, just as we love ourselves. Oh, no doubt, there are many laws, there are many commands, that we find in the Old Testament. And these laws were given by God, through His servants, like Moses and Joshua, the various kings and prophets who served and ruled over His people. And the message was basically the same: Love God and love people. Oh, there were many other things that were taught and emphasized and asked by God to practice and to keep, but this was the basic. This was the foundation upon which everything else was built. One day, in Jesus' ministry, a man came to Him, a teacher of the Law, in fact, and he asked Jesus the question, “What is the greatest commandment of all? What is the most important? Give me the number one thing I need to do.” And Jesus responded by summarizing those two commands. He offered these words, in Mark chapter 12, beginning with verse 29: <“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”> Well, we see that Jesus summarized the Law and the Prophets. He summarized what we just read in Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus chapter 19: Love God and love people. Now, the first one of those things, perhaps, comes a little bit easier than the second. We consider how much God loves us, how He has blessed us and forgiven us and saved us through His son, Jesus Christ; and so, we want to love Him in return. We honor Him and live lives to that effect. The second one, however, presents a challenge. How do we love other people? How can we love our neighbor as our-self? As it was with His first disciples, so it is with us today. It takes some effort to move from being a distant follower to a committed disciple. You know, more than anything else, God wants the teaching from Jesus Christ to shape the lives of His children. And when we become a child of God, our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We know that we are a part of God's family and that our future home with Him is certain, there in heaven. And when that is set, we can now begin to live out our salvation. We can begin to live and to demonstrate what it means to be a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, and a part of God's family. And so we begin to put these things into practice. They begin to change our lifestyle. We treat other people the way we want to be treated. We treat other people in a way that honors God and the way that He treats us. With those things in mind, I want us to ask and consider two questions, today. The first one is this: What did not judging others and doing to them as you would have them do unto you look like in the day of Jesus? Well, perhaps the best way to answer that question is to look at Jesus' lifestyle; to, consider for a moment the way He treated people. There are many summary statements about His ministry found in the New Testament. One that I like is Matthew chapter 9, verses 35 and 36: <Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.> Throughout Jesus' ministry, He displayed compassion to people. He saw their needs and ministered to them. He recognized those who were lost and had no purpose or direction in their life. He healed them. He, yes, He changed people's lives and He lived a life of compassion and kindness. Well, that's not all Jesus did. Look at a passage in 1st John chapter 3 and verse 16: <This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.> John states that Jesus lived a life of love, even to the point He laid down His life for the people; and He laid down His life for us. No, Jesus didn't judge people, but He loved people. Here's one more passage; it’s found in Luke chapter 23. Many people hated Jesus. They despised Him. And as a result, they put Him to death on a cross. And as He was suffering and dying upon that cross, He looked out upon that crowd of people and He offered these words, in Luke 23, verse 34: <“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”> Jesus forgave those people, and He prayed to His Father in heaven that He would forgive them, also. Jesus lived a life of love, He lived a life of forgiveness, He lived a life of compassion and He set the example for His disciples to follow. That's what it looked like to be a committed disciple. That's what it would look like to have good relationships with other people. Well, here is a second question for us to ask: What does not judging others and doing to them as we would have them do unto us look like in a disciples life, today? Well, nothing has changed, really; has it? We continue to follow the teaching of Jesus and the way He lived among people. Think about these words from the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 31 and 32: <Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.> Oh, in those two verses we find many of the same things that we already noticed in Jesus' ministry. But the apostle Paul calls upon us as Christians, as committed followers and disciples of Jesus, to show kindness, to demonstrate compassion and to forgive people, as we too follow the example of Jesus. Here's another statement. It comes from 1st John chapter 5, verse 17. We read verse 16 a moment ago. John continues on with these words: <If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?> Just as Jesus laid down His life for people, to demonstrate that love, so now we have the opportunity, perhaps, to do the very same thing. But if not, we do have many opportunities to show pity and compassion upon people who are less fortunate and who do not have the material possessions that, perhaps, we enjoy on a regular basis. And so we give, like Jesus gave. We may not have to give our life, but at least we can give our material possessions to bless the lives of other people. Here's one more statement I want us to notice. It comes from Matthew chapter 5, there in the Sermon on the Mount, verse 44. Jesus stated, <“I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”> That was the very thing Jesus was doing while He was dying upon the cross. He was praying His persecutors, for those who put Him on that cross. And, no doubt, there are times in life, our lives, when we need to do the same thing. We pray for those people who don't like us, who persecute us, who make our life difficult. We forgive them and we ask God to forgive them, as well. Earlier, in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He spoke about His disciples becoming the salt of the earth and the light of the world. And He stated it like this, beginning in verse 13 of Matthew chapter 5: <“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.”> The way we treat others is a direct reflection on the impact Jesus has made on our lives. When we read that passage of Scripture, it makes us think: Well, what kind of influence did Jesus have on me? He showed compassion and kindness, He forgave me, He loved me, He even died for me. And if we recognize and appreciate those gifts and those blessings and that kind of love and compassion and forgiveness, then we, in turn, will extend it to other people. We will become the salt of the earth and we will allow the light of Jesus Christ to be seen in and through our lives. Oh, these statements about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the statements about not judging others and treating them the way we want to be treated, summarize much of what Jesus had to say in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew, chapters 3 through 5. And so, let us understand the overall message Jesus was trying to communicate. This is the foundation upon which your relationships are to be built. This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. This is how we can best get along with the people God puts into our life; don't judge, and treat each other right! And when you do, you'll be representing the light of Jesus Christ in this world. Yes, Jesus showed us, through His own public ministry, how to get along with people. He showed us how we could have good relationships with one another. He showed us by the way He lived and the things He put into practice on a daily basis. And when we make the decision to move from being a distant follower to a committed disciple, then we will follow that example. We will look closely at Jesus’ life and the teaching that we find in God's Word and we will begin to put that into practice in our own daily lives. We will give our very best, as we love and serve the people God puts before us. When that happens, we will grow as His disciples. And in addition, people will see Jesus living in us, as we represent that light. Oh, the encouragement and the challenge for us today is to allow that teaching to change our hearts and to shape our lives, to represent Jesus Christ in this world by not judging other people and by treating them the way we want to be treated. And I would hope that you accept that challenge and begin to put it into practice in your life, today.
One of the most familiar places where a person's religion is tested is in the middle of a busy parking lot. You know, people drive in and out of a parking lot, like this one, with the primary idea of getting that prized parking spot. They want to be as close to the door as possible. They want to get in and out just as quickly as they can. But as one begins to look for that parking spot, there is somewhat of a battle going on in that individual's mind. And perhaps you can relate to that. We might say something under our breath about the way someone else parked. We might try to get to a specific spot before anybody else gets it. As we do that, it's sometimes hard to act politely or to think about other people. That brings to mind what Jesus said; how we are to treat others the way we want to be treated. And that is what is called the Golden Rule. How do we treat other people in situations like that? Oh, sometimes it's difficult because we're thinking about what we want, and our needs and our desires. But Jesus wants us to treat people with dignity and respect, and allow our Christianity to be seen, even in the midst of a busy parking lot. And when that happens, they might recognize us as a follower of Jesus Christ. And that's really what it's all about, isn't it? The next time we go into a busy parking lot, let us be mindful of how we react to other situations and treat other people. Let us recognize that indeed our religion, our Christianity, is on display.
Thank you for being a part of today's broadcast. I hope this message about our relationships with one another reminded us of the importance to do to others as we would have them do to us. This lesson is available on our website, at keytothekingdom.com. Feel free to download it in audio, written or video format. A number of other lessons are there as well, and they can be yours without any cost or obligation. Two minute inspirational messages are there, as well. Also, one minute devotional thoughts are updated on a weekly basis. They offer spiritual encouragement and insights from the Bible. On the website you can also find information about our ministry work in India, our basic beliefs and the latest newsletter. Please take a few minutes to read about some of these things and keep up to date on the work of “Key to the Kingdom.” Other ways to stay connected are through Roku® television and a free phone app, for those who use smart-phones. If you are on Facebook®, take a moment to find us there as well. A weekly message is uploaded every Sunday night, and I hope you will like and share it with others. And finally, by calling the phone number on the screen you can leave a message, which will be returned just as soon as possible. We enjoy offering this ministry through these various media outlets, and we hope the messages bless you in a special way. We do appreciate you keeping up with us and are thankful for your support and encouragement. Please consider joining us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible, on “Key to the Kingdom.”