The Superior Righteousness of the Kingdom of God

Honesty, Retaliation, Love of Enemy


Christ does not call His people simply to live a "righteous" life. He calls us to live a life that goes beyond the call of duty. He calls us to live excellence. For example, already in Matthew 5 we have seen Jesus commanding us not only not to commit adultery but also to live a life free from lust. Instead of commanding us not to murder others, Jesus commands us not to hate others. The lifestyle Jesus calls us to live is harder; however, according to Paul why should we live this superior lifestyle (Colossians 1:10)?

The question we need to ask ourselves is, "Are the lives we live now worthy of the death of Christ?" If Jesus looked at the life you are living right now, would He say, "All the suffering and pain I endured on the cross was worth it because of the life you are now living!" (I know that our lives will never measure up to the sacrifice He made; however, because the Spirit of Christ lives in us, Paul certainly intends for us to try.)


According to Jesus what did the OT teach people regarding vows?

Was the OT saying that we should make vows? Why do you think the OT was commanding the Jews to keep their vows?

According to Jesus what should our attitudes be towards vows (5:34-36)?

Why is it wrong to vow by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem, and by your head? When you vow by these things, how are you treating them?

Instead of making vows in order to show we are sincere, what should be true about our speech?

There are times whenever we say we are going to do something and then don't because the circumstances have changed (See 2 Cor. 1:15-20). We need to cut each other some slack then this occurs. The only reason we don't cut each other slack is that when that person changed his mind, the change affected us negatively. That's a sad and selfish way to live.


The next instruction deals with a principle called lex talionis, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Why do you think Moses laid down this principle? Was Moses saying that every time somebody put out one of your eyes you were supposed to put out one of their eyes? If so, why? If not, why not?

According to Jesus though, if somebody slaps you on the right cheek, how are you to respond?

The question invariably rises, "What are you supposed to do whenever somebody is trying to harm your family? Are you supposed to turn the other cheek then? Are we ever supposed to go to war?" First, remember that war is between nations and governments. According to Jesus what should be our response regarding governmental affairs (Matt. 22:21)?

Next, think in more detail about what Jesus said. Most people are right-handed. Whenever you punch somebody with your right hand, your fist lands on their right or left cheek? Their left cheek; yet Jesus is talking about somebody hitting you on the right cheek. What kind of situation would this be referring to?

I don't believe that Jesus is saying we should not defend our families. That would be irresponsible of a man to do that. It would lead to such a feeling of insecurity in the family. We should defend our family physically as well as emotionally. Only once in Molly's 13 years I have intervened in her relationships with their friends. A friend went crossed the line and bordered on the edge of cruelty. I basically told her that her friend could not be around them for the next 30 days. It made a positive change on that friendship. For 99% of the time parents need to stay out of these kinds of problems; yet when a friend crosses the line, the parent has the responsibility to get involved.

What Jesus is saying though is that we should not live a life of trying to settle scores. The attitude "Hit me and I will repay you 7-fold" is out of place in the Christian life. We live in a world where life isn't fair. In most cases we just need to accept that and move on. More extreme cases though need our attention.

In the following situations, Jesus encourages us to go above and beyond the right and normal thing to do. For example, if somebody sues us for our shirt, what should our response be?

If a soldier forces you to carry his baggage one mile (a legal custom in the first century), what should our response be?

What about the person who has a legitimate reason to ask you if he can borrow something from you?

Such responses would definitely surprise the person trying to take advantage of you or the person who thinks that you are going to be angry with him for doing these things to you. How do you feel like your "superior" responses will affect these people?


According to Jesus what is the normal attitude people have towards their friends and what is the attitude people normally have towards their enemies?

Notice that in the previous instances, Jesus quotes an OT passage: "eye for eye," etc. Here though He does not quote an OT passage. Why doesn't He quote one here?

According to Jesus how should we treat our enemies (5:44)?

According to v. 45 what should motivate us to treat our enemies in this way?

A recurring principle in the NT is that sons are like their fathers (see especially John 8:37-44). Jesus' point is that if we are sons of God, then we are going to act like God. Since God shows unconditional love to all people (v. 44), then we too are to love others unconditionally.

According to v. 45 what will happen if we treat our enemies this way? If we don't treat our enemies this way, what will happen then?

According to verses 46 and 47 what is another reason Jesus want us to treat our enemies this way?

What does Jesus command us to be in v. 48?