“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matthew 5:42)
Last Friday, I dealt with the issue of giving as relates to the whole idea as to whether or not we should always feel compelled to give under any and every circumstance. I tried to argue that, in reality, the injunction given by Jesus to give in Matthew 5:42 was not a “law” that he layed down that we must follow in order to be righteous, but rather was an antithetical statement — a statement of oppositions, as it were — to demonstrate the very thing the Scribes and the Pharisees were so poor at. These people were at the very far extreme on the other end of the scale: they would never give to anyone who asked as a genuine gesture of love and kindness; it was all done for show, or for some kind of “gain” on their part. Thus Jesus’s statement, in verse 42, “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” would have been sure to have gained their immediate attention. It was something, quite simply, that they were not in the habit of doing — ever!
Jesus was therefore not laying down a “new law” to be obeyed, as though obedience to this law would somehow gain us favor with God. You see, that was precisely the problem that the Scribes and Pharisees had! They knew the Jewish, Hebrew laws all too well. They were the supreme scholars in the study of the Hebrew “law”. These men were the lawyers of the day, well read, and well learned in the Scriptures! Jesus was therefore not laying down one more law to be followed by the Scribes and Pharisees. No, their problem was a problem of the heart, and Jesus was now dealing with an issue which was sure to touch their very heart — that place that they tried so very much to cover up and not have to deal with. This “new law” which Jesus laid down was simple: “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” It was a law which, plainly put, exposed them. And it was a law which was designed to clearly differentiate the Scribes and Pharisees from the followers of Jesus.
Note that the whole series of “you have heards” that Jesus mentions in Matthew 5 are “bracketted” as it were, around these two verses: Matthew 5:20 and Matthew 6:1. We call Matthew 5:21 to Matthew 5:48, therefore, a “parenthetical statement”, because it is an elaboration or expansion of what Jesus has already said in Matthew 5:20:
“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
“Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
Thus it is that everything that is contained between these two verses, including Matthew 5:42, is designed to show us “how not to be a Scribe or a Pharisee” — and, again, these are heart issues, and not law issues, that Jesus is dealing with.
Today, for your Scripture reading, I encourage you to read Matthew 5:21 to Matthew 5:48 again, and see how everything that is written in it deals with heart issues, as opposed to the law. As you do, ask the Lord to speak to you. God bless you as you do.