Applying Our Godliness – part two
Continuing with Jesus’ principles for godly living as He delivered them at the Sermon on the Mount:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all…Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil.” Mt. 5:33, 34 & 37. ESV
At this time, the Pharisees were teaching that the only way that one’s words were made true was if they were uttered in an oath. However, Jesus is saying that it is unnecessary to take any oath. Instead, He is teaching us to stand on our integrity, leaning only on our commitment to speak truth.
Next, Jesus takes on the Pharisees again, this time for their practice of justifying personal revenge:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Mt. 5:38, 39. NKJV
‘An eye for an eye’ is taken from Dt. 19:21 – a Mosaic Law that teaches the punishment for a crime should be limited to the severity of the violation in order to prohibit excessive punishment.
Instead of revenge, Christ is instructing us not to retaliate when we are wronged but instead to try to compassionately defuse the situation with the perpetrator and try to reconcile with him or her (if that’s a safe thing to do). It’s a metaphor! Jesus is not telling us to stand still and let someone beat us to death.
Then Jesus confronts the human tendency to be self-centered and indifferent to the plights of others:
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Mt. 5:42 ESV
Jesus asks us to extend our compassion to everyone in need, doing whatever is in our power to help him or her. Why? Because it is a way to apply our love, mercy and integrity:
“And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Lk. 6:34-36. ESV
Our motivation needs to be love-based; and even though we shouldn’t focus on self-interest, look at how we are blessed for that love:
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Lk. 6:38 NKJV
When we live a life of godly integrity by walking in the light that Christ has shed upon the word of God, we’ll be living in a way where we resist anger, honor matrimony, reach out to help our brothers and sisters and in so doing, revenge and indifference will become a practice of the past. In fact, when we step into the shoes of Christ, even the concept of ‘enemy’ can no longer exist. Indeed, Jesus winds up His examples of ‘evolved’ Mosaic Laws with that very thought:
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ” Mt. 5:43 NKJV
(‘You shall love your neighbor,’ is a quote from Lev. 19:18. The ‘hate your enemy’ part was added by the Pharisees and thus non-scriptural.)
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you, that you may be good sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good…” Mt. 5:44, 45. ESV
When you walk that walk, you cannot have enemies in your heart. And that’s what it’s all about – seeking to become more like God, by following the example of His Son…
Goodnight and God bless.