Rev. Dr. Helen Bessent Byrd, BAA Treasurer
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus imparts interpretations of Scripture to clarify misunderstandings of the teachings of the Old Testament emphasizing the value of withholding anger. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus teaches: “And if anyone forces (requires or compels) you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” In other words, rather than retaliating, we are told to respond by giving even more than is being required of us. With a liberal heart, give freely to bless others.
Discussing love in this sermon, Jesus said to his followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven’” (Matt. 5:43-44). As Jesus advised the church in Philippi, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). Jesus is promoting behavior that evinces love, fosters unity and is more exemplary of the mind of Christ.
Jesus is teaching that Christian kindness should supplant straightforward tit-for-tat retribution and selfishness. It is okay to give way and give away to others. We should not practice greed (hoarding and refusing to share), the deadly sin which seems to be a contagion in our society today. Remember the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor (other humankind) as you love yourself (Mark 12:30-31). So, in addition to our tithes and offerings, we also offer gifts to other non-profit organizations including UPSem. (See the website for giving opportunities. When you give, write BAA on the memo line of your check!) We are to love wholeheartedly and generously. In love, we go and give the second mile!