Put Love in Life Matthew 5

“Love and Life”  Matthew 5:21-43  2-12-17  Dr. Sloan

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I was watching a young mother make some cupcakes for a valentines party with her daughter.  The mother was about to pour the batter into the cup cake mold when the daughter said, Mom- you said these cupcakes would be made with TLC= tender loving care- don’t forget to put the love in.  Too often in my life I forget.  I forget to put the love in.  I can be so busy- though I intend to love, I don’t put the love in.  We all forget, so Jesus reminds us here.        I was looking intently at the scout law.  One value is inferred- but not mentioned.  It is love.  The scout law goes like this “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean reverent.”  You could say that without love for God and neighbor these values are vapid.  But you could also say that if you say you love God and neighbor, these values flesh it out and bring meaning to loving neighbor.  How can you love God and not be reverent and obedient?  How can you love neighbor and not be friendly, courteous, kind?  Jesus was accused early on of abolishing the law and he defended himself from that by actually adding more meaning to the laws given.  Obeying the law is not just a surface thing- or it is an empty shell.  But when your heart is right, you want to do the right thing.        Love is not merely abstaining from hate and abstaining from messing up.  Love has a positive side to it as well.  If a man never messes up and spends all his energy thinking about how he can avoid mistakes, but he never tells his wife, “I love you”, never hugs or kisses her, never goes out of his way to sacrifice for her, love can grow cold.  On the other hand, there are those who say, “I love you” and they are great romantics- but they are shallow- and not true in their heart-that is wrong too.  We need our actions to match our words to match our hearts.      Jesus was saying that we need three things here- and he models for us how Christians should interpret the Ten Commandments: 1) There is the command; 2) There is the heart of it and how we put it in our heart; 3) There is the positive side of the command.  We need to avoid murder- but don’t think that just because we’ve never actually shot someone that we have never broken this command.  Jesus said if you are angry or cutting toward other people you are breaking this terrible commandment.  On the other hand if you don’t get angry and don’t say harsh words but you do murder you have broken this commandment too.   Instead of hate and murder- we should love and do good.  Jesus said it like this- go the extra mile.  Turn the other cheek.  Love the stranger and those you think are your enemy.  Another example is the commandment about adultery.  We need to avoid adultery- (which is sex outside of marriage) but adultery starts in the heart- do not allow lust to control your life.  Do not treat people as meat or things to satisfy your lust.  Instead of lust- replace it with love.  True and healthy sexuality is not the fulfillment of lust but the fulfillment of love- and love in a committed relationship.         Jesus also is concerned about reconciliation.  Are you reconciled to God? But Jesus also asks if you are  reconciled to each other.  In fact, Jesus was saying if you are coming to be reconciled to God- bringing an offering to Him- coming to worship- but you have something against any brother or sister- leave your gift by the altar and then go and be reconciled to your brother.   Now these are amazing words.  Perhaps if I said, right before the ushers comes down to take the offering, “If anybody has anything against anyone- you have to leave worship now.”  I wonder how many would be left?  Oh, not you?  Did you forget those harsh words you had with your aunt? Did you forget the fight you had with your parents on the way to church?  Did you forget that business transaction in which you were more concerned about the business than you were your sister?       Jesus has a parallel passage to this in Matthew 18.  There he says (vs. 15-17) “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you.  If he listens you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen take one or two others along…”  his point here is if someone sins again you- go to them.  Jesus point in Matthew 5 is “if you sin against someone else go to them.”  So who is responsible for reconciliation?  You are!  You are the one who initiates reconciliation whether you messed up or your brother/sister messed up. Your relationship with others is worth far more than you think.  This is not a people pleasing thing- it is a God-pleasing thing.        I remember talking to a young couple years ago in another church.  They had come to my office- they both loved each other but they had such a very hard time getting along.  Every time he got mad he would walk off.  That is how he handled things.  Sometimes he would walk off and go to another room and slam the door.  Now, when she got angry at him, she wanted to solve the situation right away.  She wanted to talk it out- which would drive him crazy.  He felt like she was all up in his face when he wanted to walk away.  What were they to do?  I shared this passage with them- they are both responsible for reconciling their relationship before the Lord.  They were to both be patient with how the other person handled anger, and they were to not let the sun go down on their anger- so they had to talk about the issue before the slept on it- even if it meant they agreed to disagree.  She had to give him a cooling off period- meaning let him walk off for five minutes and think and pray while he did.  He had to give her a cooling off period- meaning let her talk to him for five minutes listening to her and trying to understand.  Part of being in love is putting up with each other’s differences.  To live a life of love we need to remember 1 Corinthians 13 love is patient, love is kind, It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs; Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth,  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  You can almost hear the Sermon on the Mount in these words.  Do not be angry, do not be lustful.  Do not rejoice in evil but rejoice in the truth.       If you want to have meaning in life- then love.  If you want to enjoy life then love God and love neighbor .  Love those God has placed along your path.       Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this- that he lay down his life for his friends.”  1 John says a similar thing- Herein is love- not that we loved God but that He loved us and gave His life as a propitiation for our sins.  There is a sacrificial element to love.  To love means to give of yourself- go the extra mile, turn the other cheek.  Jesus is the best example for us- and He gives us not only an example but grace, insight, and strength to love and give of ourselves.  The boy scouts have a motto- do a good turn daily.  This can turn into even more- as you look to give of yourself.  I was reading Boys Life Magazine and it listed several boys who had saved people.        I read of boys saving friends from an oncoming car, or saving a baby from drowning that had fallen into a river in Nebraska.  I remember we had two who won the lifesaving award in our troop a year ago or so.        Perhaps you read of the active shooter who arrived in Houston May 30 of this year.  He was an upset soldier and he just started shooting people killing one and wounding six.  17 year old Nicolas Latiolais was going to a doctor’s appointment that day when he saw a man holding his leg and asking for help.  He told a bystander to call 9-1-1 and the made a tourniquet and applied it to his wound saving his life.  He only realized later that it was still an active shooter situation.  He said, “In boy scouts they always talk about helping others and serving the community because that is what you do as a good citizen. I just knew that I could help him so I did.”  Nick was honored last Sunday at his troop’s (642) scout Sunday at one of our sister Fellowship churches: Memorial Drive Presbyterian, with a life saving award.       I believe as we teach people the good news of Christ, and teach them the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, we may not necessarily save lives, but we will promote helping others, less selfishness and anger and more peace in our world.   Jesus was the one who risked his life- and gave his life on the cross- to save us.  But God raised Him to assure us of our hope.  Do not forget to put love in your life.