I welcome you to turn to the Gospel of Matthew chapter five.
I was a little nervous about giving this exhortation. Not because what I’m going to call you to do is controversial, but because it’s repetitive. We’ve talked about this several times this summer.
I have two reasons for why I am repeating a similar message:
- We are often slow to change.
- We want to avoid the danger of being merely hearers of the Word and not doers, and so deceiving ourselves (James 1:22) “Yeah, I know that. I’ve heard it before.”
This morning I exhort you to greet everyone, especially those who hate you.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46–47)
If you were to do a survey of a bunch of people on Nicollet and ask them, “do you love people?” I bet that most would say that they do.
But what most people would mean, is that they love people who are like them. People who love them in return. People who’s love is beneficial.
Jesus just made a case in v. 25 that God loves all people with mercies that they don’t deserve. Even wicked people. Even his enemies.
So now Jesus is now inviting us to him and his Father’s work.
Do we love only those who love you?
Love can sometimes be very abstract. We use the word so much and it has lost much meaning. But Jesus helps us by giving us something concrete.
“And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” v. 47
Do you greet only those who greet you?
Everybody greets those who love them.
Everybody is kind to those who are kind to them.
But it takes a perfect love and a supernatural God to empower people to love those who don’t love them.
Remember, Jesus loved us, even when we were sinners and enemies, let us join him and go love and greet everyone as he loved us and as he loves them.
1. I exhort you this week to warmly greet everyone you see, especially if you don’t like them and maybe they hate you.
It may be awkward (and trust me, it is) and they may not say, “hi” back, but do it anyway. We aren’t doing it to be reciprocated but to love.
2. I exhort you to warmly greet everyone when we gather, especially people you don’t feel inclined to.
Let’s be a church that anyone of us could bring a non-Christian friend. We can be confident they will leave and may say, “I don’t know about Christianity, but I felt so loved by those people.”
This reminds us that Christ’s loved us while we were still sinners. Although you are forgiven and good, we still sin and we need relational forgiveness, and we need power from the Spirit to change.