Sunday, March 07, 2021

Anger, argument, adjudication

Matthew 5:21-26…

Jesus had just told the crowd that He was to fulfill the Law, over and against the Pharisees who only held up their lower level version of the Law. The distinction was being made.

But I say to you – Now Jesus goes even further than the letter of the Law and begins to reveal the spirit of the Law, the deep down, heart essence of the ways of God. A person isn’t a sinner because he sins, he sins because he is a sinner. What’s in a person’s heart is revealed through the person’s life (Proverbs 4:23).

The deeper your anger is for someone else, the deeper the disaster is for yourself. Hatred leads to hell. Holding an argument makes your worship out of order. Stubbornness soils your sacrifices. Handling a matter is better done in private before it goes public. The longer you wait the worse it will get. Pride can lead to prison.

The problem is not with the Law, but that it was weakened by the flesh and therefore could not do what it intended (Deuteronomy 8:1). Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin but without that weakness so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:3-4). Jesus had no sin, not on the outside, not from the inside, none at all. Every one of us might at times conform to the outer standards but there is no way we can pass the heart standard, not in every facet, in every precept, in every way. Yet Jesus does.

Are you angry with Jesus? Do you hold something against Him? Will you settle out of court, or have to face the ultimate judge? Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Justified homicide

Matthew 5:17-20…

Have you ever thought you were putting forth your best effort, only to find out that what you thought was going to get you “over the top” at some competition or event wasn’t enough? How does it feel when you find out that you just don’t have the stuff, or what it takes to make it at some certain level? Have you ever thought you were, as they say “all that”, but you still fell flat?

That has happened to all of us. Still, there may have been times when you just knew that you put forth your best effort, and the best anyone could possibly strive to attain. When the time came you did all you knew to do, and it went perfectly, and people responded just as you would have hoped. What would happen if just then someone came along and told you that you aren’t good enough, haven’t worked hard enough, and won’t get to where you think you are going at all? Sad, mad, and acting bad all fit the likely profile.

This is how many people must have felt at the words of Jesus. The religious crowd always thinks that they are cool with the rules, that they are good examples of what godliness is all about. They might even take pride in their legalistic standards. The Pharisees thought they were rigid, but Jesus says they were too relaxed. They thought they were being super strict, but Jesus told them they weren’t even close to meeting the real standard, which is perfection. This was to get them to stop relying on their own notions of righteousness.

God has a way of letting your pride swell up, and then letting the bottom drop out. This is because the Pharisee in you must be dealt the death blow. You must be broken so that Jesus can come out of the plastic, prideful shell you feel so proud about. Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Romans 3:20). When we think we can achieve God’s standard, we deny Jesus the rightful place. Receiving the righteousness of Christ by faith is the only way to meet the standard. He has done it; do you want it? Better kill your inner Pharisee.

Friday, March 05, 2021

It isn’t a little light

Matthew 5:14-16 / Luke 11:33…

Even though the world would treat us as dirt, yet we are actually luminaires, and we are to humbly carry ourselves that way. God takes care of the having to be humble part, as Jesus had just been discussing. We will be broken, but our lights will still shine. Indeed, it is because of that very fact that our lights will shine all the more brighter.

Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5), and in light of the Light (1 John 1:5), we need to be as light (Philippians 2:15 / 1 Thessalonians 5:5). The inward reality (2 Corinthians 4:6) will radiate in outward realization (1 Peter 2:9 / 1 John 1:6-7).

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden – whatever level of life you are at, wherever your house is set, does the Christianity part have to hang out in the basement?

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket – wherever you are, whatever you do, are you letting the reality radiate, or do you try and put the dimmer switch to the blazing fire within? Does Jesus take a stand in your life, or do you in effect tell Him to sit down?

In the same way, let your light shine before others – the only way your world could know that they walk around in dead darkness, and the only reason they would follow you out of the darkness, is if they see that you are the one who has the light. If He lights up your life, you should light up your world (Ephesians 5:8-14 / Colossians 1:12).