Agape

Agape (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

MATERIAL WEALTH IS A HINDERANCE TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE     

In part one; we presented you with the scriptures just as Jesus gave them to you.  In this lesson we want to focus your attention on what was happening at the time Jesus taught this very important lesson and how it fits into all of our lives today.

Jesus life was unique, so were his teachings.  His teachings were known for their fresh and new approach.  Jesus taught several distinctive spiritual truths that set Him apart from any other religious leader who ever lived.  This past week we have focused your attention on how Jesus used parables as a great tool in his teaching methods.

In this lesson, we will focus on Jesus unique abilities as a Master Teacher to teach this one great lesson that we all need to understand and that is:

HOW A BELIEVERS ACTIONS ARE ROOTED IN LOVE NOT FOR HONOR OR POSSESSIONS.

Jesus taught that love must not be selective.  His followers are to love all people, regardless of how unlovely or even hostile they may be.  They also must act on that love by being willing to do good when it is in their power to do it.  There are several words for love in Greek.  The word we are using here is agape love, meaning the kind of love shown even when the one loved has no merit for that love.  It is love that must be chosen and willed.

All people have experienced agape love from GodGod loved the world even while people were sinful and rebelliousGod willed to love his people and sent his Son to die for them, not because they deserved it, or had any merit, but only because of God’s love.  Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it means to be loved undeservedly.  People who were once enemies of God and have joined his family can understand what it means to love your enemies.  Only with the help of God’s Spirit can his people do well to those who hate them, pray for the happiness of those who curse them, and pray for those who hurt them.  When believers are hated, cursed, and hurt, they are to respond with love.

HOW CAN ANYONE RESPOND TO HATE WITH LOVE?

I submit to you when you are in the flesh, this can be a very difficult thing to do.  However, let me assure you that people who have accepted Christ as their Savior have the Holy Spirit’s help to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.

Now let us for a moment take a look at the examples Jesus offers to us; he says, “If you get slapped, turn the other cheek.”  “WOW” Who me, you say? Turn my other cheek and let you slap me again.  “You got to be crazy!” And therefore, the normal response for a person in the flesh would be to slap back, but Jesus offers another option—the attitude that says, “I will not seek revenge.”  Pause your thoughts, and think about this for a moment… then say, “In fact, if need be, I am ready to take another blow.” This attitude is not so much to offer to be slapped again, as it is to offer forgiveness.

The same attitude is illustrated regarding the coat and the shirt, referring to the outer garment and your undergarment.  If someone demanded the one, you are to offer the other as well.  The point is not so much being passive when someone is attempting to rob you as it is being compassionate for another’s need.  If someone needs to steal your coat, then perhaps that person also needs your shirt.

In fact, a more general principle could be stated:  Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.  Such an attitude completely confounds the world.  It doesn’t understand non-retaliation, forgiveness, and a loose hold on possessions.  But believers, citizens of a future heavenly Kingdom, are freed to forgive and to give.  The point is not that giving is always the correct answer, but that “believer’s actions are rooted first in love, not in regard for honor or possessions.”

In our final lesson on this subject we will conclude it with, “HOW MATERIAL WEALTH IS A HINDERANCE TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE.”