Sermon notes from February 24 on Luke’s version of Jesus’ sermon
(The audio version of the sermon can be heard here.)
TEXT: Luke 6:27-38
TITLE: “Do Unto Others”
THEME: If we would do this, we would be close to perfect love.
- One day as I was preaching from Jesus’ words, I came to this verse: Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.…. And a woman raised her hand and asked, “Even my new riding lawnmower?”
- Jesus said many things that challenge us, and these words are perhaps the most challenging.
Love your enemies – “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? – God’s love knows no boundaries. It is given to all people. God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked – a God of mercy / compassion.
- Do good (even) to those who hate you – This is tough stuff! Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you. Do good to your enemies and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. – Who does that? Jesus’ followers. Those who would be like Jesus, who choose to do God’s will by following the way of Jesus.
- Turn the other cheek – Walter Wink described the cultural background for why each of the examples (turning the cheek, giving everything, going a second mile) could be a way to stand up for yourself in the face of greater power without violence. For example, a backhanded slap showed dominance, but a open palm slap happened between equals.
- Do not judge/condemn – This is where the Golden Rule comes in. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. – Do I want judgment and condemnation from other people? People who don’t know me, who don’t know what happens in my life? Who don’t understand me? No, of course not. Do I want other people to forgive me when I make a mistake or even when I do something wrong toward them? Of course I do.
- Give generously – Give, and it will be given to you. – Be generous toward others, and others will be generous toward you. Be generous toward God, for God has already been generous toward us. Generosity and compassion are two essential characteristics of the lives of those who follow Jesus.
- All of this can be understood best by focusing on what we have come to call the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Some people have thought it humorous to turn it around and say “Do to others before they do to you.” That’s only NOT funny, it’s all too common in this world – and it sums up the opposite of everything Jesus said here.
- If we would do this one thing in every situation – treat others the way we want to be treated, we would come close to a perfect love. – We find some version of this in all religions:
- Choose for your neighbor what you choose for yourself.
- Do nothing to others which would cause you pain if done to you.
- What I wish not done to me, I wish to not do to others.
- One should seek for others the happiness one seeks for oneself.
- What you hate, do not do to anyone.
- One problem with the Golden Rule is that we are not all the same. I may want you to treat me differently than you want to be treated. Different personalities, different cultures, different backgrounds – there are many reasons for this. … That’s where empathy comes in. Seek to understand the other person enough to know that she or he may want something different from me than I want for myself.
- Still … it’s true in most circumstances. I want people to respect me, to be kind to me, to listen to me, to forgive me, to …. – Surely we all want other people to treat us in these ways, so we choose to treat them this way no matter what.
- I couldn’t quite answer the woman’s question. If I bought a new riding lawnmower and someone took it or borrowed it and wouldn’t return it… well, “that’s different.” – But we can often find reasons to say “that’s different” and excuse ourselves from doing what Jesus taught us to do and to live as Jesus lived.
- I invite you to choose the way of following Jesus and let him give you strength and power to do it.