Matthew 5.21-48 (NASB)
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’
22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’;
28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’;
32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’
34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.
36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’
39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus clearly raises the bar here. Previously He told us that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Now He talks about commonly known elements of the law, and takes it further. Recall that early in this “sermon” Jesus told us that the pure in heart are blessed. Here He reiterates this. Those who think about violating the laws are guilty. If there is some part that causes you to stumble in regards to pure thought, get rid of it! This sounds gruesome, but points to the importance of our thoughts. How can we live and continue to battle with our thought life? I have so often said “I’m only human” rather than deal with the root causes. It’s not just about actions, its about what we consider and allow ourselves to dwell on. The helmet of salvation from Ephesians 6 is so valuable. We need to realize that our thoughts are apparently just as important as our actions! Do I live in this realization.
Looking at 38-48, I again see a theme that we talk about but fail to consistently apply in most of the Church today. “Don’t resist and evil man”. Do we ignore this? How can we espouse violence when Christ is clear here that we should pray for our enemies and love them? It seems to me that violence toward our enemy, even as part of the army, does not take these words of our Messiah seriously. We cannot marginalize the words of Christ without being able to show why based on other passages that specifically lays out the exceptions to this passage. I am unaware of any, but would appreciate being shown where they are, if they exist. I don’t want to claim perfect knowledge. If I am wrong, help me!
Lord, help me to keep my thoughts pure. May the meditations of my heart and the thoughts of my mind please You. My actions should line up with Your word, but they flow from what I dwell on. May I also live up to Your standards of loving my enemy. Do I pray for those who upset me and try to take advantage of me? Do I love those who make my life more difficult? Lord, without Your help, I cannot meet these standards. Give me Your Spirit today to help me live according to Your design through my life today. May I not focus too much on what will come my way tomorrow, but trust Your grace for this day. Grant me Your wisdom. Be with my family today, may Joy and the kids feel Your presence with them, guiding, directing, strengthening, and loving them through all they do. Thank You, Father, for Your unmerited love and favor to us.