Sunday School Lesson – “Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith” 1 Timothy 6:11-21

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VERSE DISCOVERY: 1 Timothy 6:11-21 (KJV, Public Domain)

In case you didn’t know, we are in a competition like no other.  The world, as God originally designed it, was good.  But through the course of time, as evil entered the world, this place that we call our physical home has become a contentious place.  It has become a battleground where a spiritual war is being waged every day and the target of the main attacks is our faith.

If you have ever heard someone use phrases of exasperation over the struggles they are facing, you get the sense that what they are involved in at that moment or what they are dealing with is extremely hard.  The way they are trying to go or the thing they are trying to accomplish at that time is not easy; rather, it comes with the press of extra effort to get done what they need to get done to make it through.

No truer is this than in the adherence of and the push to maintain our Christian faith.  In a world bent on opposing us with its lack of values and moral character, and with spiritual enemies all around, we are in a fight to keep firm in what we believe.

But keep firm we must.  We are called to be proactive in protecting and walking in our faith.  We must be diligent in our obedience to God as we hold on to our confession and confidence in the One who “…hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,” (Colossians 1:13). 

What God has given us through Jesus Christ is too good to let go of now and the reward up ahead is greater than one can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9) and it is eternal.  We must strive to not let the flow of this world influence us or make us waver in our faith.

This lesson is a bold message for us to hold on to what we believe.  To pursue after and fight the good fight of faith, and never let it go.  Pursuing the good fight of faith requires something from us.  In this lesson, I will cover six specific topics of personal accountability for the one who is pressing forth and pursuing the good fight of faith.

 1. Our Inward Commitment

1 Timothy 6:11 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”

In the verses leading up to the lesson text, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, encourages him in his role as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  In this role of leadership, Timothy would be responsible for how things are ordered or conducted in the church.  As one to whom others would look up to, spiritual discipline would be of the highest order because it not only testifies of the leader before the congregation, but it teaches the congregation how to act before the world.  All with the end purpose of drawing more people to believe in Jesus Christ through their living testimonies.

In chapter 6 particularly, some of the issues Paul points out for teaching edification revolves around the idea of contentment, erroneous teaching and beliefs, and the warning of the love of money and how it has already caused some to “err from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).  For these, Paul wants Timothy to be on guard from these practices while pursuing and protecting his faith.

“But thou, O man of God.”  Let us pause here for a moment and pay attention to that word “but.”  In contrast to what Paul has already described as the wrong way some are following, the word “but” serves as a sifting agent for the one whose identity is tied up in God.  In baking, sifting is used to separate, and as a “man of God,” Timothy particularly had to make sure his actions were separated from the things that would dim his testimony before the world instead of edifying the God he served.  In other words, he was saying, “Timothy, you are different, and I want you to act differently, talk differently and walk differently in the pursuit of your faith.  Don’t do what they are doing but let your testimony before God and the world be of truer stuff.”  For that to happen, Paul lays out some specifics for Timothy, and those in Christ, to follow.

“Flee these things.”  Disassociate yourself from the wrongdoings of others.  The word “flee” gives great urgency to get away from there.  High tail it out of there like never before!  Do not give opportunity for the seed of evil that comes from hanging around that stuff to have a chance to plant in you.  In other words, “RUN!”

The effects of hanging around these sinful behaviors or pondering them in one’s heart, if continually being exposed to it, can ravage the faith of a believer.  If you touch fire, you are going to get burned.  The best way to avoid getting burned is to not expose yourself to the fire in the first place. Many don’t realize it, but in pursuing the good fight of faith, it means one needs to take themselves away from things that can cripple their walk with the Lord.

While Timothy is to turn away from those things that can be damaging to one’s faith, Paul counterbalances his teachings for the things Timothy should be seeking because what one is turning to is just as important as what one is turning away from.

Timothy and every Christian’s life will be characterized by what they “follow after”; by the things they pursue.  Rather than going after the things others are going after like money and materialistic things that those in the world are looking for, Paul teaches Timothy and us what are the better things to seek in our lives.

With that, he makes this list of things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” all designed to govern our relationship with God and with each other.  They not only show the inner commitment we are to have toward God in the right things we pursue, keeping His ways as a priority in all that we do in our lives, to believe in them and adhere to them through it all, but they also show us how to respond to circumstances and people through the production of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Our Upward Focus

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

So, Paul teaches, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  Fighting the good fight of faith is not about putting your dukes up.  It is all about putting your faith up.  It is more about taking a stand than taking a punch.  It’s ordering one’s life and steps according to the will of God for our lives (Psalms 119:133).  It is running the race of this Christian life and competing in this spiritual contest, pushing toward the finish line with every ounce of effort one possesses because there is a wonderful goal up ahead.

While we are pushing forth in the defense and protection and adherence to what we believe, we are doing so with the intent of laying hold of a prize.  Our prize is the “eternal life” we are living in hopes of.  At the end of any contest, at the end of the struggle, there is something wonderful we are looking forward to.  Our stand through all we are facing here is in light of the victory we are promised to gain in the end: “eternal life.”

Heaven belongs to the believers.  Life eternal is the ultimate prize for the one who refuses to give in or give up; to the one who does not get entangled by the things of this world others are chasing after (compare 2 Timothy 2:4).  That’s why Jesus once taught, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (John 6:27).  We have something better than money; we have something better than the materialistic things and social status’ down here to lay hold of.

Our purpose in being “called” and of having this “profession” of faith, is to pursue the things of God.  To be God-focused and heaven-focused, not world-focused and getting caught up in the things we presently see.  It is pushing past every contention here while keeping an upward focus for our future.

3. Our Outward Responsibility

1 Timothy 6:13 “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;”

Our testimony before others matters and it is our responsibility to represent our Lord well. Therefore, in the strongest terms, Paul tells Timothy, “I give thee charge in the sight of God.”  If you have ever attended a graduation ceremony you may hear the word “charge” being used during the occasion when the higher-ups of the learning institution instruct the graduating class on how to apply their newfound knowledge with responsibility.  This is a word that Paul has chosen to use several times in his letter to Timothy to invoke the seriousness of all he is relaying to him.

And, to punctuate his statement even more with its importance, he is delivering this message before the same All-Mighty, Sovereign, and Supreme God of all the universe that breathes life into every being (“quickeneth”) and “Christ Jesus” who stood blameless with His “good confession” before “Pontius Pilate”, never wavering in what He spoke or knew was the truth.  Our Lord never raised the white flag of surrender, not even through the most difficult thing He would ever face.  Timothy, and all Christians alike, are to follow the example of our Lord with that same fierceness of our “good confession”. 

1 Timothy 6:14 “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

With that, Paul continues to encourage Timothy to “keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable.”  Continue forth in the press of your faith; continue to live a life above reproach and accusation.  When Jesus comes back at His “appearing” (second coming), He’s coming back for a church “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27).

Yes, that might not meld well with the current culture of the world, but in Christ, we are not living to please the culture of this world; rather, we are living for a higher life and that requires the discipline of maintaining and keeping the faith without fail against all adversaries, including the flesh.  We who are called by His name are called to live like Him.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25; Matthew 5:48).  Our faith is on display as an example of the Christ we follow.  What people see being performed outwardly in our lives will speak volumes more than any message we could ever preach verbally.

4. Our Spiritual Readiness

1 Timothy 6:15-16 “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

For when He comes “in his times,” all will see Him as He truly is.  We do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but Peter teaches us, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (2 Peter 3:10).

Once, I wrote:

“Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as the older folk used to say, when Jesus cracks the sky – it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?” (I Come Quickly/Word for Life Says)

Paul wants Timothy, and every Christian, to be aware of not only the life they are living, but the times they are living in, and the time they are living for.  Be ready.

Know that is God the Father is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” meaning He, as noted above in verse 13, is supremely Sovereign, with all authority over all (Revelation 19:6).  The Lord reigns, the Bible tells us (Psalms 93:1; 97:1; 99:1)!  He is “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple,” (Isaiah 66:1).  He is God alone!

Scripture shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ is also known and called by the same description/title (noted above) being attributed to Him (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), and the Bible also encourages us in His power and authority (compare Colossians 2:10) and that we can take heart because our faith is complete in Him!  We are told, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:10-11).  He will be acknowledged as King forever.  The everlasting King will rule forever, and all will “bow the knee” in honor and recognition of who He really is!

God “hath immortality” meaning death and everything that comes with it can never be imposed on Him or appropriated to Him as to others.  Not that He simply just cannot die, but the very fact that His immortality is who He is, He is explicitly incapable of doing what is against the very nature and make up of Himself.    “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (Psalm 90:2).  As God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; see also John 1:14, 1 John 1:2), Jesus Christ is conqueror over death.  2 Timothy 1:10 tells us, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Life everlasting is found in Christ who lives forever (see Hebrews 7:24).  Hold on to your faith that you may live eternally with Him!

God is He who is that “light which no man can approach unto.”  The Bible reminds us of the story of Moses asking to see God’s face, His glory, just how impossible this was (read Exodus 33:18-20).  Christ is where God is in that glorious place and it is God’s glory that illuminates all of heaven (see Revelation 21:23).  It is a place too wonderful for man to obtain on his/her own; whom without Christ, we would not be admitted into the presence of God.  Keep pursuing and fighting the good fight of faith that you may be able to enter in to be with Him “whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

5. Our Quest for the Greater Gain

1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches.”  In light of all of this, teach people what is the greater gain, Timothy!  Wealth, notoriety, social status, and the things the world applauds are not what counts.  They are fleeting and will pass away.  “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” (Proverbs 27:24).  Nothing we accumulate here will last forever.  Therefore, don’t put your trust in things but put your trust in the God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” who gave you those things in the first place.

And, when He blesses, use those blessings, not just for yourself, but turn them into “good works” by sharing and positively impacting the lives of others.  Part of fighting the good fight of faith is using what we have to lift others and offer help and support when and where it is needed; not be self-focused, but others-focused.

This, in turn, benefits us spiritually as well in the long run.  For we are “laying up in store… a good foundation against the time to come.”  With “eternal life” ever-present in the mind of the believer, that one lives with not only their own life of faith in their hearts but with the concern of others there as well.  What we do in the here and now impacts our future to come.

6. Our Standing in the Truth

1 Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

Therefore, Timothy, “Keep that which is committed to thy trust.”  All that Paul is teaching Timothy, all that entails this life of faith, Timothy is to pursue it, fight for it, and guard against anything contaminating it such as “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”  There was a lot of talk with a lot of false teaching that Timothy was to guard himself and guard the faith against.  Everything that sounds good is not good.  Timothy, hold on to the truth and fight to stand in it!

Even though some “professing have erred concerning the faith,” meaning having been drawn away into believing what is false, you Timothy, continue in the good fight of faith.

The world today is full of false teachings that may sound right, but if it does not match up with the Word of God in its entirety, it is false, and we would do good to stay away from it, too.

As Timothy is, so are we to be just as diligent in our press for our faith.  Our prize for a race well-run is set in the Heavenlies where it will neither tarnish nor fade with time but will last into all eternity.  May we pursue after and fight the good fight of faith that we too may gain that greater reward.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith

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Craft: Collage Craft: In the lesson, Paul described six practices for Timothy and all Christians to follow in verse 11. Find pictures from old magazine, books, comics, etc. and make a collage of examples of each of these practices being used.  For an alternate activity, use The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip activity page for students to draw these examples instead.

The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip-001

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How Many Words: The Good Fight of Faith How Many Words

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Sunday School Lesson Series: “Getting to Know God Better”

When we enter into a new relationship it takes time to begin to understand and know the other individual.  This knowledge does not come instantly.  It comes with patience and perseverance; it comes by spending time with someone to get to know them personally.  It’s how we figure out all those special things that make them, them.

Getting to know God better, I believe, operates in much the same way.  The more time we spend with Him and the more time we take to understand Him and those special things that make Him, Him, the greater our love and appreciation for Him grows.  That growth is important because our understanding of who God truly is has eternal implications.  Jesus Himself spoke and said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3; emphasis mine).

Can I tell you a secret?  God wants us to know Him.  He spoke in Jeremiah, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24; emphasis mine).

The greatest thing we could ever have is a solid relationship with God.  Fortifying that comes by taking the time to get to know Him better, which is the gist of this new lesson series.  Each lesson focuses on some of those things that make up the beautiful character of our wonderful God.  In the end, my prayer is that your faith in Him and your relationship with Him would be strengthened all the more.  We have this promise in the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:8).  I pray that the words written in these lessons would help you to do just that, get closer to God.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.  They can be studied individually or grouped together as a series.

The power of God is over all! The power of God is responsible for all things created! The power of God cannot be matched and Job declares, even during the roughest patch of his life, that God’s sovereignty over all remains.

When we truly grasp the understanding of the love of God for us, then can we learn to love others better.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s longsuffering is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

Holiness is still right! Isaiah saw a vision of God’s holiness in heaven, unmatched by anything we can know down here or imagine. Peter lets us know, the only way we will get to experience heaven, is to live holy while down here on earth. We must be holy because God is holy!

I am expecting to add more lessons to this series in the future so please stay tuned for updates.  For now, I’m off to work on other projects and series.  Many blessings to you all!

Sunday School Lesson – “The Patience of God” 2 Peter 3:9-15a

VERSE DISCOVERY: 2 Peter 3:9-15a (KJV, Public Domain)

Waiting for things and promises to come to pass can be extremely hard sometimes.  Especially if you have been hearing it for a while but have yet to see the fruition of it.  This is a matter that Peter addressed in this portion of his letter.  The gospel has been preached for some time by now.  Those that believed were hopefully waiting for the promises preached to come to pass.  They’ve heard the story of Jesus’ ascension and the urging to keep focused for His return.  Yet, the scoffers (unbelievers) were making it hard to hold onto their faith.  They ridiculed their beliefs and mocked their devotion.

Peter taught there’s a different end for us who are believers than for those who are unbelievers.  Those that believe should never let go of the promise that He is coming back again regardless of how long it seems to us.  Just look at this way, we are thanking God for His patience and longsuffering because it gives more people a chance to be saved.  I think that’s well worth the wait, don’t you?

Scoffers May Disbelieve

2 Peter 3:3 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,”

“Knowing this first.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”  Yet, it still amazes us when we go through hardship.  We are still taken aback at any signs of adversity.  Here, Peter said the “first” thing you should know is there are going to be “scoffers.”  There are going to be people who don’t believe what you believe and because they don’t, they will mock, ridicule, and make fun of you for what you believe in.

If you have ever watched a clown perform you have probably laughed.  Why?  Because much of their performance is mocking the actions of another and the way they jokingly do it tickles our funny bone.  “Scoffers” work in much the same way except it’s not funny at all.   I think if we had the predetermined mindset to “know” these things will happen it will prepare us for when those times do come.  Especially in these “last days,” referring to the time between the first and second return of Christ.   

“Walking after their own lusts.”  The word “lusts” has an s on the end of it signifying that there are various pursuits of ungodliness that the unbeliever and scoffer delve into.  They scorn and mock that which is right with the end purpose of being able to do what they want to do.  If they convince themselves there is no return of Christ to look forward to, then what is there that would prohibit living a life of sin and dishonor.  If they believe there will be no repercussions to their current actions and lifestyle choices now, why would they stop pursuing those things and ideas they desire to pursue, even though they are wrong.

We see this attitude alive in the world now.  We see Christians are rallied against because they raise a standard in their life and take a stand for their beliefs, yet at the same time, the mindset of the world is the Christian better not say anything about the beliefs of others.  For if they do then they are considered intolerant of others for not supporting their lifestyles.  All so that the unbeliever/scoffer can continue “walking in their own lusts.”  “Lusts” are sinful desires that go against the plan and design that God has for humanity.

2 Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

A large part of gospel preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ because their eternity hangs in the balance.  Since the scoffer is not looking toward the same heavenly treasure as the believer and does not believe themselves that this event will take place, their job is to try to tear down and even use human reasoning against those who are awaiting God’s promise through the return of Christ.

“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  Their reasoning, yesterday came and went, and nothing happened.  Last year came and went and nothing happened.  As a matter of fact, since the world was created, days and years came and went, and nothing happened.  You keep saying it, but “Where is the promise of his coming?”

Most people base everything they believe or don’t believe on what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds.  When the unbeliever looks down through history, they don’t see the chain of events that brought salvation to mankind.  They don’t see the promise of good that God has stored up for our futures.  They don’t see the fulfilling prophecies that brought God’s kingdom closer to man.  When they look down through history all they see is a normal course of events that has continued uninterrupted.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.  Therefore, they can’t fathom this incredible promise either.  To them, nothing has changed.  Since they don’t see it, they don’t mind letting their hatred for those of us who do see it show.  They ridicule and mock the one who believes in the return of Christ (compare Jude 1:18-19).  They trust that everything will remain as it has since the beginning of creation.

2 Peter 3:5-7 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

“They willingly are ignorant.”  Here it states that this is one’s choice in the matter of whether they believe or not believe.  God is not going to arm wrestle someone into faith.  God has blessed every human being with a free will, and they are the ones who will choose whether or not they will follow Him.

“Willingly” implies truth or no truth, they will not comply.  Their minds are made up to purposely follow a life of sin and what they believe or disbelieve to be true and right, regardless of the evidence before them.  Here, their ignorance will not allow them to believe in the order of Creation as stated in the Bible or any other biblical truths that follow.  For too long man has opposed God’s truth to his own finite theories of evolution and reasoning on how the world came to be.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” (Genesis 1:1-2).  Before God stepped in there was just chaos.  Our lesson speaks of “the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”  This was God’s doing!   Nothing that we see in this world today existed nor did it evolve from some species.  But on the third day of creation, God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, and let dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering of together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good,” (Genesis 1:9-10).

Though the order of creation is apparent and evident some still choose to disbelieve.  The apostle Paul said this doesn’t excuse them.  “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20).

And, it is by those same waters that God stepped into history and judged mankind for his sin once before through the great Flood (see Genesis 6:6:5-7; 7:11-24; compare 2 Peter 3:6 of the lesson text), therefore Peter teaches, He will do it again!  Whether or not one is looking for it, the time of final judgment will come.

Scoffers laugh and jeer because God is taking so long for the time of His coming when they should be rejoicing that He is taking His time.  Instead, they use this time to indulge in evil.  “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

In God’s proper timing, when He is ready, He will, “by the same word” He spoke during those times speak again and everything that we see around us today will perish.  Jesus Himself stated that “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” (Matthew 24:35; emphasis mine).  Psalm 102:26 tells us, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure…” (emphasis mine).  One day, their hope, which is not in God, will die.  Yet, they still ignore the one who will “endure.”  Go figure?

Still, God is patient today, but there will come a time for “judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  He is reserving everything for that fulfilling time.  For now, He is holding back His “word” for that “day of judgment.”  But then, everything that was spoken of for that day will happen and the ungodly will perish.  There is a different end for the wicked as opposed to those who believe.  “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup,” (Psalm 11:6).  It will happen!

…But God is Not Slack

2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

But we, as His children, are not to operate in “ignorance.”  We are to be fully aware of the ways of God.  One thing is, God is not on a timetable such as we are.  We mark our days by when the sun rises and sets at night.  We mark our seasons by the temperature in the air, the budding or non-budding of plants, and by the harvests we reap.  We mark our lives by age milestones.  When you are a child you can’t wait to hit the double-digit numbers and be 10.  After that, other milestones are marked such as when becoming a teenager (13), sweet sixteen, at 18 you are considered a legal adult and so forth.

God is infinite.  He cannot be marked by time.  “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty, (Revelation 1:8).  There never a time when He wasn’t because He always was!  With that being said, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

“For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.”  God is not an unreliable resource to depend upon like man.  Many get confused along the way because they attribute man’s faulty characteristics to the holy and perfect God.  When someone promises something but takes a long time fulfilling it, we tend to lose faith in that individual.  But God cannot be counted in the same category as man.  His not moving right now is not due to “slackness” or an inability to perform.  Habakkuk tells us, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (2:3).  Shortly after that in the next verse, he says, “The just shall live by his faith,” (2:4b).  Every word of God for good or for bad, for happy or for sad, for those who believe or for those who don’t believe will come to pass!

For right now He is withholding His hand of final judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For everyone out there, there is hope for salvation if they will just turn to Him and repent and be saved.  They don’t have to go out like that when God is waiting for them right now, right this moment.

God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of people.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  Will all come and get into this life He offers through Jesus Christ?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of that life of sin and unbelief that is seeking to take them down for all eternity.  God wants as many people as possible to be saved and living in heaven with Him.  How beautiful is His love toward us!

But people must repent!  They must turn to Him.  They must turn away from their old life; change their mind from their sinful thinking and living and turn to Him. A true, repentant heart admits that it has fallen short of the glory of God and is seeking restoration and salvation that only God can give through Jesus Christ our Lord.  “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye,” (Ezekiel 18:32).

2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”  There’s something to be said for preparing for the unknown.  In life, we put all kinds of securities in place such as home alarm systems to warn against intruders and we stock-up supplies in the event of some horrific storm.  Our future in Christ is not an unknown, yet, still knowing what will take place, some disregard all warnings.  Jesus said, “If the goodman had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” (Matthew 24:43).  Thieves are not known for announcing their arrival.  The element of surprise works in their favor.  It catches people off guard when they least expect it.  Here we are told that when we least expect it, it will happen.

“The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  Everything will be gone!  Nothing on this earth will last forever.  Yet, day by day, people put more stock in the things this world possesses and the “works” they can do with their own hands rather than God.  Therefore, Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” (Matthew 6:19) because the earth and all that is in it will vanish one day.  As stable and as strong as we think a mountain is, Revelation 16:20 tells us, “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”  All will “pass away!”  Peter’s emphasis for us is not what’s going to happen with the world for we should already be prepared for that.  His concern in dealing with the Christian is what’s happening with us personally.

Therefore, How We Live Matters

2 Peter 3:11 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  Since Peter already focused on the times and seasons of the future, he now wanted to focus on his readers and their inner man, and how they are representing themselves to the waiting world.  How do we live our lives considering our eternity?  Knowing that “all these things shall be dissolved” how do we let that information guide us in our life decisions and choices?  Do we act as carefree and irresponsible as those who live with no hope of a better future?  Or, do we make sure the faith we profess on the inside is shining like a beacon on the outside to draw even more people to Christ?

How we live matters!  Talk is cheap!  Actions speak louder than words!  We’ve heard those sayings most of our lives but usually only apply it to someone we are in an argument with.  What Peter really wants us to do is mind our own steps in life.  It’s easy to pick away at the life of another and the choices they have made when we are not as careful to judge our own.  Jesus asked, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).  Our eternity is not bound up here, rather we are pressing toward the goal of heaven.  We are working toward the end of salvation.  With that being said, we must mind “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  We won’t have to answer for nobody but ourselves and how we lived.  And, how we will live matters!

2 Peter 3:12-14 “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

In these three verses, we see the word “look” three times.  At the time of this writing, Peter was nearing his end.  This would be the last letter he wrote so he knows something about waiting in expectation of a better future.  Hard times and trials tend to dash one’s hope.  But Peter expressed that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.”  We are not to stop anticipating the better that God has for us.  The unbelievers and scoffers live the way they live because they don’t have this assurance.  But we have the “promise.”  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).  God is the author of the promise and God makes good on His promises; therefore, we should never stop looking! (see also Romans 8:31-39).

“Wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  Speaking of our eternal home, the Bible tells us, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).  A lot of works carried out by men and woman today will not see the light of heaven tomorrow.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Not on this list?  It doesn’t matter.  If one is not born again then they will not walk the streets of glory (see John 3:5).  Only the righteous will be there.  (This would be a good point to make a call to salvation for your students urging them to prepare themselves for that coming day).

“Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace.”  When someone is diligent that means they are putting forth a conscientious effort to pay careful heed and give it their all.  Since that day is inevitable, and since we don’t know the day or the hour, we must be ready to “be found of him in peace.”  Romans tells us, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18).  In that day, those that are not “found of him in peace,” will surely wish they were.

“Without spot and blameless.”  Israel was initially supposed to be the nation that would show the whole world how to have a relationship with God.  They were to be examples of His righteousness but failed.  Nevertheless, God had a plan to bring a Savior into the world “without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19).  Now, we are being called to live like Jesus.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25 and Matthew 5:48).

2 Peter 3:15a “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

“The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”  Have you ever really had an off day and thought to yourself that you were glad today was not the day when He came back?  Yeah, me too.  There are others that don’t know Him, and it is during this waiting period of His “longsuffering” they have a chance to accept and experience salvation.  His love compels Him to wait a little longer.  He won’t hold off forever, as the lesson has proven.  Things will change despite what the scoffers believe.  Our job in the process is to thank Him for His patience, hope in His coming, and live like we are in anticipation of the return of Christ, because we should be.

His longsuffering, which is stated twice in this lesson, is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Patience of God

Suggested Activities:

For a cute coloring page, go to SandwichINK

Object Lesson from Ministry-To-Children

Games and Activities that teach patience from MeaningfulMama

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Patience of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Patience of God

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: The Patience of God Draw the Scene

Word Search: The Patience of God Word Search  Answers: The Patience of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Patience of God Crossword  Answers: The Patience of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Patience of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Patience of God Word Scramble Answers

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Serving Like the Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-34

Photo: Pixabay/jclk8888

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 10:25-34 (KJV, Public Domain)

In a previous article I wrote: “Have a Warmer Heart than Usual” it reads:

“I live in a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13).  Thinking beyond oneself is going to win out hands down every single time.  Why?  Because, that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Mt. 9:36).  To the leper, “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mk. 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son, “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So, did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, this man needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Imitators of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  An imitator of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another? (© Word For Life Says).

Compassion, though it may sometimes seem like it in today’s world, does not have to be a lost art.  We, if we follow the example of Jesus and of those who have gone on before us, can make a difference, not only in one life but in the world, positively, for change.  Through our service to our fellow man we are demonstrating the service of God’s love toward us; thereby serving God as well.

Considering all that Christ has done for us, we have a unique responsibility to show one another love through service.  Think about the life of Christ.  He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:28).  Here is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, humbling Himself as a commoner and serving.  His focus was never on receiving anything, yet to give it all.  The pattern of the Church and those who would serve God should be so likeminded.

A Lawyer Questions Jesus

Luke 10:25-29 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  But he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” 

It amazes me the lengths that individuals will go through to try to prove a point.  Certain men would show up at different points: Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes, “to catch him in his words,” (Mark 12:13).  These questionings were not honest inquiries rather ways to try to catch Jesus in a trap; “that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor,” (Luke 20:20; read 9-19 for more).

The lawyer in today’s lesson was an expert in the religious law or the Law of Moses.  His life revolved around the teachings thereof; he knew and possessed the expertise of the time; a very thorough knowledge of what was written and passed down from generation to generation amongst the people of God.

Here, he used his “knowledge” to try to trap Jesus in something he and the other Pharisees and scribes could eventually use against Him in their pursuit of His demise.  We see a similar situation play out in Matthew 22:35 and Mark 12:28.

But Jesus turned the tables on him and asked him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Obviously, Jesus knew of the man and who he was and being the expert that he is should be able to readily answer His question as well.  It’s one thing to throw questions at another in an attempt to embarrass or discredit; it’s totally different to be put on the spot and have to answer for some theological debate for oneself.  Jesus redirected the man’s question to let the law, which he is so familiarly acquainted with, speak for itself.

Note: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).  If there is any question regarding the Word, refer back to the Word.  Jesus used God’s Word a lot in many defenses.

What I like is Jesus didn’t initiate this.  It was the pride and headiness of those who sought to disprove Him that caused them to pose these questions.  Yet, at every turn, Jesus, in His quiet and humble way, puts people in their place causing the opposite results in what they were hoping for.

The lawyer’s response was not unexpected.  He answered with his recitation from a portion of the Law which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:”; also known as the Shema (compare Mark 12:29).  This prayer was recited two times a day.  Its instructions are very poignant and meant to solidify one’s relationship and that of his house with God (see Deuteronomy 6:4-7).  What great principles on rearing a godly house and drawing one closer to God!  Here, the lawyer answered confidently, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” reciting from the familiar verse 5 in that same set of verses from Deuteronomy 6.

Note: Because we love Him, everything within our inner being should be wholly and completely devoted to God: the emotions, mind, will, and strength.  This goes beyond lip service.  God wants your inner man devoted to Him rather than surface professions of faith.  Why do you think God so approved of David despite his many, many faults?  He did so because David’s heart was for God.  Act 13:22 says, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart…”  David worshiped God and was devoted to God from the heart.  His inner man was tied to God.”

The second portion of his recitation came from Leviticus 19:18b where it states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Love is a working of the inner man and is concerned with outwardly working itself in the lives of others seeking their betterment.  Love doesn’t look to loop-hole another to get out of service, rather, it asks, “What can I do for my fellow man?”  One of the greatest things we or any of us can give to another is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Jesus supports his answer as being correct by stating, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” In Matthew 22:40 Jesus states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Everything is fulfilled in the following of these two commandments.  We are not saved by our works, but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Oh, here’s where we get into the pudding of the matter.  I don’t know why this man felt a need to justify himself but the answer that Jesus gives was most certainly not what he was looking for.  When one is seeking to justify themselves, in my opinion, they are trying to clear themselves from any wrongdoing.  Being that this man was, in fact, a pro at the dealings of the Mosaic Law, he wants to be found, again in my opinion, “right” in his dealings with his fellow man.

Though his title of a lawyer was not as we use it today in a court of law, let’s think about that court of law scene for a moment.  People go to court to try and convict.  Others are there to defend or justify; presenting an excuse to the judge/jury of why they should be cleared of any charges.  Again, strictly my opinion, but to me, this man was fishing to be exonerated of any wrong toward his fellow man.  But, let’s find out Jesus’ answer in the matter.

Jesus’ Answer to the Lawyer

Luke 10:30-34 “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

To answer the lawyer’s question, Jesus, as He was known to do, told a very illustrative story instead of giving a simple verbal response.  What He was about to pose would be thought-provoking and should cause some to question whether they are truly serving in the love of God.

Many of us are very familiar with this story so I won’t bore you with the obvious.  What I do what to point out is the “opposite” ingredient that plays into the mix of things in Jesus’ story.  On the one hand, we have not one, but two men who are considered righteous workers in the temple of God: the priest and the Levite.  Both men have been ordained and appointed special positions and special tasks on behalf of the temple, the people, and God.

On the other hand, we have a despised reject of Jewish society, the Samaritan.  One who most would have been considered a nobody yet became the hero of Jesus’ story and is definitive proof that no matter how others view you, you can still make an impact in this world for God.

Another “opposite” ingredient to look at is not who any of the men are; rather, their actions in coming across the beaten man.  The two, the priest and the Levite, for whatever reason chose not to help or even come near to see about the battered man.  Some say they wanted to remain ceremonially clean or the like.  We just don’t know the exact cause for why they reacted the way they did but Jesus made it a point to tell the story like this, so it is more than noteworthy to pay attention to.

To Jesus, their actions were not only opposite of the Samaritan’s, who showed compassion; but their actions were also opposite of what God was looking for.  For by the time we reach the end of the story, not in today’s printed text, Jesus asked, “Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer to whom He presented the question answered, “He that shewed mercy on him,” (Luke 10:37a).  Jesus followed with this very important instruction: “Go, and do thou likewise,” (Luke 10:37b), showing what kind of service God was looking for from His people.

We serve God not just in the confines of the church building or temple; we serve God when we reach out to our fellow man and become vessels for His mercy to work through.

This was a prime teaching opportunity to let them know how they treat people matters.  Treat people as you yourself would want to be treated or how you think Jesus would treat them.  “God is love,” (1 John 4:8), and those that belong to Him should operate in love also.  Everybody wants to be loved and feel the concern of mercy and compassion this man showed, no matter their status in life.

God’s people should know how to treat people in any situation or circumstance, whether the times are favorable or not.  God’s people must respond the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  See people how Jesus sees them.  What is His attitude toward another in need?

Loving people; serving them and treating them as one would want to be treated is a priority for living as God’s people and serving Him.

As was already stated in our introduction, we are to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

In order to serve God, we must serve people also.  The Good Samaritan became a great and enduring example through the ages of how through serving one’s fellow man we also serve God.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson Idea from: “Living Love: The Parable of the Good Samaritan” (go to page 3 for the Object Lesson to lead into this lesson titled, The Present Predicament )

“Bible Verse Review Activity” (Click to find a great game that’s easy and inexpensive to help students memorize Bible verses)

In getting across the idea of “Serving,” I used crafts incorporating the hands since that’s what we use the most to serve and help others (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal 😉 Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Adult Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Kid’s Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Blank Journal Pages (to cover what interest your class): Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Draw the Scene

Word Search: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search Answers

Crossword: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble Answers

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson” (Here you will find many, many activities to choose from including WWJD? activities, coloring pages, take-home pages, and more.  Enjoy!)

“The Good Samaritan Crafts for Kids”

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson/Little Blots of Faith”

“Bible Fun Zone/Good Samaritan”

“The Good Samaritan” (Several unique activities, printables and story illustrations for the telling of the lesson.  Enjoy!)

“First Aide Bag” (A very original, cheap and easy craft your students can put together.  I would suggest adding a bible verse from the lesson as a reminder of what was covered.  Enjoy!)

“Doctor’s Bag”

“I Can Be a Service Star” (Sugardoodle.net)

“Serving Others”

 

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Love Your Enemies” Matthew 5:38-48

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV, Public Domain)

What does true Christianity look like?  How do people know that we are a child of God?  What marks us as being different from anyone else?  When we decided to do the things that God does and love the way He loves, then people can readily tell whom we belong; who is our Father.

In life, there are going to be times of being wronged, hurt, and/or misunderstood.  What do we do in these instances?  Do we vehemently seek revenge or try to get even? 

No.  Part of being a Christian or living life as God’s people is to extend God’s love to those who refuse to show us kindness in return.  It’s going against our human nature to when offenses happen by extending the heart of God to those who oppose or war against us; to those whom one would consider being an enemy.

When we choose to say no to what our flesh wants to do and yes to what is right in God’s sight, then we are on the right pathway of living lives that are pleasing to Him.  We are purposefully living like Jesus did – choosing to love, even the worst, like God does.   

Going Against Human Nature

Matthew 5:38-42 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

It is during His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out the disciplines necessary for a life lived for the Kingdom of God, where this lesson text is found.  In that teaching, He clarifies a few points He wants His followers to adhere to.  Jesus wanted to set aright some misunderstandings concerning the Law and offers a more Kingdom-approached mindset.

Part of laying out the law in Exodus was to ensure that when people committed a wrong against another or injured another, proper retribution was made.  This portion of the law, and similar portions like it, were put in place to keep everything fair and balanced, not only for the offended but for the offender.  Both parties would be protected to ensure neither party involved would go overboard in exacting from the other what they believed was due them or deserved.  Those who were to receive something in return for an offense would get what’s coming to them – nothing more, nothing less.  And, those who caused the offense or injury, those on the punishment end of the spectrum would get or give what is their due – nothing more, nothing less.

Basically, laws like this not only promoted fairness, but it limited extreme actions from being taken by another for the least little bit of infractions.  The punishment had to fit the crime and not be exaggerated, out of the proportion, or go too far for what was called for.

That’s the meaning behind the phrase/verse, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, (compare Exodus 21:24).  It was not a license for retaliation and revenge.  It was a law commanded to keep everything fair and balanced.

Supporting the true nature of the law, Jesus taught, rather than seek revenge, go above and beyond what normal human nature would demand of in times of offense.  Do something radically different: Resist not evil.  Proverbs 20:22 explains it like this: “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he will save thee,” (compare 1 Peter 3:9).  The focus of a Kingdom-minded individual is not seeking to render evil for evil.  The focus of a true child of God is to live life like Jesus did, with love and compassion toward one’s fellow man.  Even their enemies.

And, if it’s the Law the people want to quote to justify themselves in rendering to another their “just desserts,” then they also must remember that it is also the Law that states, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt  love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD,” (Leviticus 19:18).

People can be very self-seeking in matters of avenging and holding grudges.  These two things will tear relationships and people down rather than heal and restore.  And, that defeats the purpose of the original intent of the Law.

Therefore Jesus, to further drive His point home, continues: But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  During the Roman occupation, people in Jesus’ day would suffer many assaults from these soldiers and governing authorities.  And, surely too, there would be times when one’s own countrymen would strike out in unjust ways.  But, the response of the Christian is not to behave in the same manner as they.  They were to respond opposite of what society or their normal human character would dictate.

Other scenarios Jesus gave, such as, if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also, and, whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain, demonstrate the previous point He made about not getting caught up in revenge, retaliation, and the seeking of one’s rights.  Here, He is instructing them to once again, go above and beyond that, to the point of doing more than what was insistent upon.  The Christian is not called to live and act like everyone else, getting caught up in matters that surround the here and now or being entangled with the cares of this life, 2 Timothy 2:4.  He/she is called to live and love people as God Himself does, and that often goes against the grain of human nature.  And, sometimes it will require one to do extra or more than necessary in order to show the love of God.

When someone has been hurt and broken the last thing on their mind is the benefit of the one who has inflicted the harm.  Jesus, knowing what He was going to accomplish on the cross, was teaching His disciples to operate in this world as He would.

All these things that He speaks of in the above verses, all the scenarios of wrongs committed, were to be situations that Jesus Himself would live through, love through, and forgive the offense of others through.  They would be things that He would actually demonstrate through His own life: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus was teaching His disciples that to live as Kingdom-minded people, you will not only have to go against the status quo and cliques of society, but you will also have to fight against your own natural inclinations that don’t want to seek the good of those who cause harm.

In addition to that, be giving.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.  God gave us the greatest gift one could ever hope to receive, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who would freely and willingly suffer so much wrong to lay His life down for us.  Is it too much for us to give as He gave to those in need?  Jesus didn’t turn others way or turn a blind eye to genuine needs.  Do we?

Love Like God Loves

Matthew 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Love your enemies.  Loving neighbors is one thing, but the words love and enemies don’t exactly coincide with one another according to human standards; rather, they usually collide with one another head-on.  But Jesus is calling us to use God’s Spirit within us to operate on a supernatural level that surpasses our view which is usually obstructed by this natural world.

When one is an enemy that means they are against us.  Yet, Jesus’ command is to love them anyhow.  Show them the same compassion as He did when He allowed them to drive the nails through His hands and feet.  He told His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane at the time of His arrest, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  He could’ve taken care of His enemies with one swoop of prayer, yet love compelled Him to offer Himself for their release from sin.  He had a heavenly view for loving His enemies.  In that, He laid it all down for them and us and showed just one of the ways one can do good to them that hate you.

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.  No one said these sayings were easy, because they’re not.  If they were, everybody would be doing them.  But they are doable because everything that Jesus is telling His followers to do, He did, or would go on to do.

They cursed Him, yet He prayed for them: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).  They struck Jesus on the cheek (John 18:22; compare with Matthew 5:39 from above), and they divided His clothes (Luke 23:34).  He went through it all and never sought His own revenge but continued forth in love.

Following His teachings, even when it’s hard, and mimicking the things He did, helps to identify the Christians as true children of your Father which is in heaven.  In normal, familial relationships there will be some sort of resemblance between parents and children.  Certain traits, characteristics, features will be prominent, assuring the fact that this child belongs to me.  And, the same is true for those who claim to be spiritual children of God.  As His children, some of Him should be seen in us.  As we were originally created to be in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), so too should we represent His image as we have been recreated with a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God is a good God (Psalm 100:5) and “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God,” (3 John 1:11).  In His goodness, He does not withhold the natural graces of nature even from those who are considered evil and unjust.  He allows the sun and rain to benefit them all.  How much more in kindness should we operate if we are mimicking our Father?

It is easy for anyone to love or salute those who love and salute them back.  Jesus, to make sure they understood this concept, used as an illustration one of the most despised people of their day: the publicans.  The publicans were the local tax collectors on behalf of the Roman government.  They placed exorbitant charges on their fellow countrymen and gave to the Romans what belonged to them while pocketing the overages for themselves.  Because of this, they were greatly despised among their own people and seen as traitors.

With that being said, Jesus is making His point, that it is no great thing to treat ones with love and compassion who show the same toward you.  Even the most despised of people usually do the same.

It is when one goes above and beyond – that’s what sets them apart as true children of God.  When one can step away from their natural tendencies of wanting to retaliate and get even and decide to walk the path that leads us to perfect living; one that mimics our Father which is in heaven is perfect, can they truly say they are loving as God loves.  They are seeing people the way the Father sees them.  That even enemies, and those that war against us, would be viewed in our sight the same way the Father views them and treats them.

After all, we were once enemies as well.  “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).  But, in His love, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  He didn’t wait until we were doing right and walking perfect and checking off all the right boxes and treating everyone fairly before He died for us.  He did it while we were in our mess.  He did it while we were sinners.  He did it while we were enemies.  Now, it’s our turn to show others, even those who may hurt us and be called our enemies, the love of God in us.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Love Your Enemies

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page – Love Your Enemies

Kid’s Journal Page – Going the Second Mile

Memory Verse: Love Your Enemies Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: Love Your Enemies Draw the Scene

Word Search: Love Your Enemies Word Search  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Search Answers

Crossword: Love Your Enemies Crossword  Answers: Love Your Enemies Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble Answers

“Love Your Enemies Activities” (Tom and Jerry anyone?  Yes, what a great example about getting along with someone you are always fighting with.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemy Children’s Lesson”

“Love Your Enemies Group Activities” (Several great ways to bring this lesson out.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemies Activity Sheets”

“What Would Jesus Do Printable Craft”

“What Would Jesus Do Activities” (I really like the section on Visual Activities.  I think using this technique is a great way to open up and introduce the students to this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“What Would Jesus Do, Mirror”

“Jesus Knocking Craft” (Though this does not go with today’s verse, I think this easy printable can be nicely applied to today’s lesson.  Use it to make a Jesus door hanger that will help remind students to ask WWJD?  Enjoy!)