• Tony Birkhead

RED LETTERS Week-5



Listening to what Jesus has to say will always lead to a better way!

INTRODUCTION

How are your listening skills? Are you listening to learn or listening to form a response? What could truly change in your life if you listened to what Jesus had to say?

KEY SCRIPTURE

Luke 6:27-49

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Luke 6:27-31.

Why is it so hard for us to love our “enemies”?


What actions of an enemy are found in these verses? On the other hand, what are the commands for Christ-followers?


How does this description of love challenge you? How do we see Jesus put it into practice in His life?


What do we communicate to the world when they see us loving unlovable people?


Only in God’s strength can we act in love toward those who hate and reject us because of our commitment to Christ. Jesus Himself was not exempt from being the target of hatred, but He set the ultimate example for us when He showed love to His enemies by forgiving those who crucified Him. We show our gratitude for God’s kindness by loving our enemies, thus demonstrating that we are children of God.


Read Luke 6:37-42.

When are you most tempted to point out a fellow believer’s shortcomings? What motivates you to do so?


What do we communicate to God when we take on the role of judge?


What is the point of the speck and the plank (vv. 41-42)?


Jesus delved into His disciples’ inner character. The speck denoted a small object. The log, however, represented a huge piece of wood that obviously would cause blindness. The word-picture pointed out the ridiculous nature of a judgmental person. The basis of any discussion about judgment must start here: We’re all sinners who deserve God’s judgment but are offered His grace (Romans 3:19-24). God holds all of us to the same standard, and we all fall short of it. Before we attempt to point out another’s sins, we must be aware of our own and remember that only God has the wisdom and authority to judge.


Read Luke 6:43-49.

Think back over the verses we’ve read today. What are some key characteristics of “good fruit” (vv. 43-45)? Why is it important that our lives bear good fruit?


What quality of fruit would your acquaintances say you are producing? Why? What would Jesus need to do to make it better?


In the first parable, Jesus compared people to fruit-bearing trees. The type of fruit a person’s life produces is determined by the type of tree that produces it. In this context, good fruit can be understood as a life consistent with the righteous standards Jesus taught. It is through our actions and our character—the fruit we produce—that other people see Jesus in us.


How are the two houses and the two builders different (vv. 46-49)? What is similar about their situations?


What is something difficult you’ve gone through recently? How was that situation affected by knowing God was with you? What did you learn about your life’s foundation?


The house on the rock is a beautiful image of life as a Christian. Everything around us is chaos and disorder. It batters us, but we stand on God’s promises. It stretches us, but we return humbly to Him for grace. The house on the rock stands, not because it has a better builder, but because its foundation is God. Only with this solid foundation is everything else Jesus talked about—selfless love of others and surrender to following Him—possible.


MOVING FORWARD

  • What area of this teaching do you need to apply most?

PRAY TOGETHER

Ask God to help you listen to Him and do what He says. Ask Him for the courage to not judge, to forgive, to invite accountability into your life and to build character in you!

COMMENTARY

Luke 6:27-49

6:27 Jesus offered practical guidance to help His disciples live like Him. He emphasized the need for them to listen to Him. Listeners constituted people who determined to follow His lead and to obey His instruction. Above all, Jesus called His followers to love.

6:28 Jesus called His disciples to act toward enemies in an unexpected way. The command to bless those who curse you went against popular Jewish teaching. The rabbis of the day taught their hearers to bless those who blessed them and to curse those who cursed them. Jesus’ demand for His followers proved more difficult. Prayer for the good of enemies demonstrates the radical change of heart that agape-love demands from disciples.

6:30-31 Jesus acknowledged a general principle that demanded conduct similar to His. Jesus called Christians to go overboard in generosity. Verse 31 records Jesus’ expression of the Golden Rule. The Jews taught this concept in a negative way. For example, “If you don’t like something done to you, don’t do it to others.” Hence the rule is don’t hurt other people, and they won’t hurt you. Jesus turned the Golden Rule toward the positive. The tough aspect of this command entails rightly understanding the other person. This requires sensitivity to where the individual hurts in order that you can help in the best way.

6:32-33 Those who follow the Golden Rule live unselfishly. Jesus called for bold application of the Golden Rule. Jesus pointed out that even sinners love those who love them. Giving love in exchange for love requires no sacrifice. Giving love to those who refuse to love you in return takes something out of you. Jesus turned to an example of Christians who lend. Although Jewish law prohibited collecting interest on a loan, most lenders found ways to get around the law. For instance, in-kind goods or services might be paid the lender instead of monetary interest. Christians are to lend for a different reason: to provide an advantage to the borrower instead of to oneself.

6:35-36 Jesus restated His life principle to love your enemies and do what is good. In similar fashion, He encouraged the disciples to lend, expecting nothing in return. This kind of behavior carries a reward. Jesus never taught that this great reward would be material in nature. Instead, Christians receive the reward of eternal life in God’s grace.

6:37-38 Jesus instructed the merciful disciple (see 6:36) with two negative commands followed by two positive ones. Jesus prohibited hurtful criticism of others. Condemnation went one step further than criticism. It refers to the arrogant assignment of guilt to another person’s actions. The first positive instruction insists that disciples forgive. The word used here for forgive means “to pardon, to set free.” A forgiving Christian holds no grudges. In this way we remain free to receive the forgiveness God gives. A merciful God exemplifies generous giving. Jesus used a grain purchase to illustrate the point.

6:41-42 Then Jesus delved into His disciples’ inner character. The speck denoted a small object. The log, however, represented a huge piece of wood that obviously would cause blindness. How could a blind person remove even a small speck from someone else’s eye? Jesus insisted that His followers focus on their own sin. He dubbed the person who fails to see the log in his or her own eye a hypocrite. Hypocrites pretend to be someone they are not.

6:46-47 Failure to obey Jesus’ teaching carried significant consequences. He expressed concern about false followers who called Him Lord but refused to obey Him. They practiced “lip-service” discipleship. Their actions never matched their words. Jesus intended to show or illustrate the picture of an obedient follower. This one “hears My words, and acts on them.” The combination of hearing, saying, and doing embodies true obedience.

6:48-49 Jesus used an example of a man building a house. The builder dug deep to place a house foundation on the rock. A contractor must exert extra effort to find something solid upon which to lay a foundation. Soft soil eventually fails. With proper care taken, the structure could withstand a flood in which a river crashed against that house. During the rainy season in that region, flash floods occurred regularly. This necessitated making adequate preparation before the need arose. Believers avoid spiritual disaster when they build their lives on the foundation of faith that speaks and acts obediently to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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