Sermon: Have We No Rights?
Scripture: Matthew 5:38-42
In this week’s lessons, we see that we are not to demand our rights, but instead, like Jesus, we are to pattern his self-sacrifice and service.
Let me close by making this personal. What is your attitude toward all that I have been saying? Are you still dealing with the questions of your rights and your wrongs? Or are you learning to live the kind of life lived for us by the Lord Jesus?
One Bible teacher has written on this subject: ”Since the day that Adam took the fruit of the tree of knowledge, man has been engaged in deciding what is good and what is evil. The natural man has worked out his own standards of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and striven to live by them. Of course as Christians we are different, yes, but in what way are we different? Since we were converted a new sense of righteousness has been developed in us, with the result that we too are, quite rightly, occupied with the question of good and evil. But have we realized that for us the starting point is a different one? Christ is for us the Tree of Life. We do not begin from the matter of ethical right and wrong. We do not start from that other tree. We begin from Him; and the whole question for us is one of Life.
“Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others. We become preoccupied with what is and what is not right. We ask ourselves, have we been justly or unjustly treated? And we think thus to vindicate our actions. But that is not our standard. The whole question for us is one of cross-bearing. You ask me, ‘Is it right for someone to strike my cheek?’ I reply, ‘Of course not!’ But the question is, do you only want to be right? As Christians our standard of living can never be ‘right or wrong,’ but the Cross. The principle of the Cross is our principle of conduct… ‘Right or wrong’ is the principle of the Gentiles and tax gatherers. My life is to be governed by the principle of the Cross and of the perfection of the Father.”1
If you are a Christian, learn soon this great spiritual lesson. Do not stand on your rights. The second mile is only typical of the third and the fourth. The cloak is only typical of all our possessions. Our time is not our own. When Jesus died for us on the cross, He did not do it to defend our rights or His. It was grace that took Him there. Now as His children, we are called to the same life of self-sacrifice and Christ-like service.
1Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1966), 25-26.
How does our secular culture make judgments about what is right or wrong, as they view it? What factors do non-Christians consider? What standards does society use to arrive at their beliefs?
Rather than trying to defend our rights, what are we told to pursue instead?
Prayer: Have you faced situations when you were tempted to assert your rights rather than to give them up in order to serve Christ better? Pray for grace to be able to put your rights aside for the honor of God.
For Further Study: Eventually, unbelievers who have wronged God’s people will be punished, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to execute perfect justice. Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “An Evil End for Evil Men.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)