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.
Theme: The Right to Our Time and Money
The third example Jesus gave is the right to our time, for He said, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two” (v. 41). This is a picture of which we know very little, for it comes from the experience of those who live in an occupied country. In such a situation a member of the conquered nation might at any moment be compelled to serve the conquering power, even if it meant the neglect of things that he considered important and for which time was pressing. To give one example, this was what happened to Simon of Cyrene when he was pressed into service in Jerusalem to bear the cross of Jesus.
Now Jesus said that if a Roman should come and compel one of His disciples to go a mile with him in order to bear some burden, he was not to do it grudgingly and with obvious resentment. Instead, he was to go two miles with cheerfulness and good grace. To us that means that we are not to be resentful when people call us on the telephone and take up valuable time just because they do not have anything to do. We are not to be surly when we are given added work at the office, are saddled with someone else’s work, or are sent out for coffee when we are in the middle of something we think important. We are to do it cheerfully and as unto the Lord.
Finally, we are to see that we have no rights to our money. Jesus said, “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (v. 42). I know we work for our money. We seem to work doubly hard today because the government and the state take so much away in taxes. And yet, we are never to say, “Well, what is mine is mine. Let the other fellow work. I did it.” We are to respond to his need, and we are to do so cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7).
This is not speaking of the professional beggar, of course, the kind that will spend all that you give him on drink. It is speaking of genuine need. Nevertheless, it does teach that we are to meet that need. Actually, the instruction is exactly the same as that given to us by John, who wrote to those of his day: “But whosoever hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassions from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). Perhaps there are few things that reveal the true depth of our Christianity as clearly as our attitude toward money.
Explain the background behind Jesus’ statement about being compelled to walk a certain distance.
What else does the Bible teach about how we are to think about and handle our money?
Application: What principle do we see in this part of Jesus’ instruction? How can we apply this in our own time and setting?