Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 14
Thesis: Pray for those who demean you.
Introduction: The Kingdom of God is to be established in righteousness. This means that when it is finally set up by Jesus, it will be composed only of those who have bought into the fundamental premise that people ought to treat one another "justly". But, "just" treatment stems from a greater issue: who is considered to be "of greater value". It is a natural thing for people to treat those who are important in an inoffensive way unless there is a competition for that importance. So, one of the foremost characteristics of the heirs of the Kingdom of God is that they reject any and all competition for greater value. This is the way it was before Satan decided to initiate such competition with God; this is the way the Gospel presents the issue; and this is the way it will be once both Satan and the entire body of his rationale have been revealed to be wicked and have been given a "just" response.
When Jesus came down from the mountain, He began to teach His disciples the true nature of the Kingdom of God. He began with a contrasting set of "blessings" and "woes" and then immediately moved into the most problematical issue of the Kingdom prior to its establishment among men: how to respond to those who have not bought into its most fundamental foundations. This would be those who reject the truthfulness of the statements of "blessing" and "woe". Jesus calls these rejectors "your enemies". And His fundamental thesis is this: you cannot embrace the fundamentals of the Kingdom of God and not practice them in the kingdoms of men. This boils down to a two word answer to the question of how to respond to those who are "rejectors", or "your enemies": "Love them".
Our problem is this: what does "Love them" mean in real, every day, interaction? So, Jesus set about to tell us. "Love them" fundamentally means "put them above yourself in terms of the question: who is most valuable here?" Then, He began to give specific examples. When someone hates you, do good to him. When someone wishes for you to perish, wish for him/her to become a genuine instrument of God for good. And, when someone "mistreats" you, pray "for" him/her. There are more instructions, but it is to this one -- "pray for those who mistreat you" -- that we have come in our study. What does Jesus expect us to say to God in prayer in regard to those who "mistreat" us?
January 13, 2008
- I. Identifying the Situation.
- A. Generally.
- 1. All of the terms of the "enemy's" behavior are "unloving".
- a. An "enemy" seeks his goals at your expense.
- b. One who "hates" you treats you as "worthless" (the implication here is that he/she has discovered certain unacceptable-to-him/her limits to how he can use you).
- c. One who "wishes for you to be destroyed" considers you of no value (the implication here is that he/she has discovered that you are 'in the way' of his/her goals).
- 2. All of the terms of Jesus' instruction are "loving".
- a. The command stands at the top: Love your enemies.
- b. The command to "do good" is a command to seek the best interests of another.
- c. The command to "bless" is a command to verbally express a real desire for one to become useful to God for benefit to others.
- B. Specifically.
- 1. The issue involved in "mistreatment".
- a. The term that is used is a combination word that puts the preposition "upon" with a verb that means "to treat in an insulting manner" (verbally or otherwise).
- b. Thus, the issue is an intensified expression of one's perception that the opponent is not worth considering.
- c. The only biblical example is 1 Peter 3:16 where we see someone accusing another of doing evil when they see them doing good.
- 1) This is nothing more or less than an attempt to pull someone's value down in order to keep others from giving honor and to attempt to get that honor for oneself.
- 2) This illustration reveals the real issue: a competition for honor among men with the use of "unrighteousness" as the weapon of competition.
- 3) This is not an accusation of evil because some evil has been done.
- a) Some of the most damaging heresies have been introduced into Christendom by way of overarching platitudes that ignore the context of the texts from which they have arisen (like "judge not that ye be not judged", or "by their fruits you will know them", or "you cannot be a soldier and a good Christian", or any number of other expressions of "religion" that is not in harmony with Jesus' teaching).
- b) Being "mistreated" means, fundamentally, that the treatment does not match the standards of "righteousness": no one is "mistreated" when they are given what they deserve.
- 2. The issue involved in "prayer".
- a. The word translated "pray" fundamentally means to get one on one with God and express one's true desires [the word is "pros" plus "euchomai"--an intensified concept of a face-to-face expression of a strong wish].
- b. Thus, there can be no "hypocrisy" here.
- c. And, obviously, there has to be a real and profound understanding of one's worth before God so that worth before men has little to no meaning.
- II. Identifying Jesus' Actual Meaning.
- A. It is in the preposition.
- 1. There is textual confusion on this point, but not too much once the evidence is considered.
- a. The Textus Receptus gives the sense of putting a barrier "over" someone for their protection.
- b. The Nestle/Aland 26 gives the sense of putting a wall "around" someone for their protection and exposure.
- 2. What the preposition reveals is that one who "insults" (makes an unrighteous accusation) has an enormous need to understand the love of God and to be protected from the abuse of men.
- B. Jesus was looking for disciples who are committed to real solutions.
- 1. When someone "insults" another, it is a genuinely vacuous thing (God's love makes it so), but it does not "seem" vacuous (men's antagonism creates this delusion).
- 2. The only solution is for the one doing the insulting to come to grips with how much God loves men.
- 3. This characteristically cannot happen until the activities of men are sufficiently blunted that God's activities can be seen for what they are.