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Matthew 5:40-42

Be Generous

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.


Most of us in the United States do not live in circumstances where we are likely to encounter violence. As mature Christians, we have also learned to conduct ourselves in a manner that does not encourage violence. We are blessed by a wonderful God who has provided all of our needs, including our safety.

Yet, we have created for ourselves a society that is very covetous. With all of our wealth and security, it is amazing to see how readily get rich quick schemes are still selling. We never seem to have enough. Our covetousness has brought about a different kind of a society with its own kind of dangers. People are busily scurrying around trying to grab as much of the wealth as they can, and the lawsuit has become an increasingly popular way of taking what belongs to others. Some say that we are the most litigious society in all of history.

Those who claim that the teachings of the Bible are outmoded should look again. These passages from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount are more relevant today than ever. The three verses before us teach the proper way to respond to demands that are made on our property and our rights.

Jesus used the circumstance of a poor man as an illustration of how we are to respond to lawsuits. Certainly, if a rich man were sued, he would be sued for more than just his coat, the inner garment. But, the cloak, the outer garment, was the most valuable thing that a poor man owned. It was forbidden to keep the cloak of a poor man overnight as a pledge for debts, because he covered himself with it when he had to sleep outdoors. However, Jesus taught that, if we are sued for our coat, we should also give our more valuable cloak. Rather than to be covetous, we are taught to be generous.

Many disputes begin when someone feels like his rights have been violated. Our courts are filled with cases dealing with the rights of individuals. During Jesus' day, it was common for Roman soldiers to make a Jewish person carry a load for him. The law allowed a soldier to force the Jew to carry his things for a mile. This was a violation of the rights of the Jew, it was insolent, and it was degrading. Jesus, however, commanded them to carry it two miles instead.

God's people are to avoid conflict in every possible situation, even if it means severe personal sacrifice. We are to be generous, cooperative, and even submissive. Give, if someone asks! Never say "No" to someone who is in need.

This is often very difficult for us to do. God's people often find themselves so busy doing for others that their own personal needs are neglected. I do not know how often I have heard people tell me and others that we needed to learn how to say "No!" That, however, is not consistent with Jesus' teaching nor with the example that He set for us.

Before The Throne:

Pray that God would give you a submissive heart. Ask for a spirit of generosity and love. Confess that covetousness is nothing more than the desire to have those things that God has not yet decided to give you. We are all covetous and need to confess and repent. Pray for the faith to live in obedience, difficult as it may be, to your Lord Jesus Christ.

For Further Study:

(v.40)
** Luke 6:29; 1Cor 6:7;

(v.41) ** compel. Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26;

(v.42) ** Matt 25:35-40; Deut 15:7-14; Job 31:16-20; Ps 37:21, 25-26; Ps 112:5-9; Prov 3:27-28; Prov 11:24-25; Prov 19:17; Eccl 11:1-2, 6; Isa 58:6-12; Dan 4:27; Luke 6:30-36; Luke 11:41; Luke 14:12-14; Rom 12:20; 2Cor 9:6-15; 1Tim 6:17-19; Heb 6:10; Heb 13:16; Jas 1:27; Jas 2:15-16; 1John 3:16-18;

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