Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth.’ 39 But here is what I tell you. Do not fight against an evil person. “Suppose someone hits you on your right cheek. Turn your other cheek to him also. 40 Suppose someone takes you to court to get your shirt. Let him have your coat also. 41 Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with him. 42 “Give to the one who asks you for something. Don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow something from you.
Wow! If you live like this you make it one afternoon on the school playground. I remember recess. Recess was an escape from the rectangular desks, chalkboards, and endless worksheets. Recess always complemented lunch. Any kid growing up has witnessed the playground fight. I can recall several fights during recess.
Why fight? Why retaliate? As a new father I wonder what I will tell my son. Will I want him to fight back to prove that he can handle the pressures of young life, to let every kid know that he is not someone to be messed with? I know that I got messed with in school. I didn’t fight back. It was not a religious decision. We didn’t talk about that type of thing at home. I didn’t know how to fight. I would not know what to do first.
Parents today have choices to make as they raise their children. How do we respond to the “playground fights” of our everyday life? Do we retaliate with fists and cold stares? We typically walk away picturing in our minds what the other guy would look like after we got done with them.
What do we do with our children? Do we teach them to fight? Jesus is pretty clear here. There is no room for retaliation. He does not give us an out. He pushes discomfort, inconvenience, and kindness.
Discomfort? Inconvenience? Kindness? Yes.
Following Jesus means a conscience effort, putting one foot in front of the other, led by the Spirit of God, Christ IN us. If Christ is IN us.
Would he fight back? He had the chance to fight back. He didn’t.
It seems so easy to type that: He didn’t fight back.
We have choices as parents. Kindness must prevail. Discomfort and inconvenience will be right behind.
The end result? Our flesh is defeated. God is glorified.

Matthew 5:33-37

33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

How many promises have we made and broken. I know that I’ve made a lot. I hate to even write that down but it is true. I love this paragraph in the Bible. Jesus is teaching us how to speak and how to answer properly. It is hard to just say “yes” and “no”. I hate saying NO. In ministry is so hard to say NO. Everything in me wants to say YES! How often have we said YES and broken a promise. I guess we should have said NO.

Teaching children is a great adventure. I believe that we should teach kids to say YES and NO. We should teach them to be careful with promises. The word promise and the idea of a promise have been lost in society I’m afraid. Everything is a bargaining chip. We are all waiting for the “better thing” to come along. Saying YES is difficult. I think that is why Jesus wants us to say YES or NO and not fool around with the gooey middle.

There is something powerful when we say YES or NO. We show where we stand, what we believe, and what matters to us. When we say YES to someone that is a powerful thing. That is a commitment. We don’t like to make commitments in our society today. This is a sad reality.

We have the opportunity to teach children to say YES when they truly mean YES and to say NO when the moment is right. We can also teach them to value promises too! God has made promises to us. They have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is a powerful thing.

God said YES to us in Christ. He stands by His YESs and NOs. We should too.

Matthew 5:31-32

Readers, it’s been awhile. Besides my lack of writing consistently I broke a bone in my thumb which makes typing zero fun. I have challenged myself  to write something today. My cast comes off August 15th.  I am ready. You really begin to appreciate your ability to type, play guitar, brush your teeth, and button your dress shirts with no hindrances.

Here we go:
“” It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.”

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.””

Two recent  encounters come to mind concerning this passage. I recently heard a person say that their child was going through a divorce. It was shared so matter-of-fact that I wonder now if this person understood Our Lord’s teaching. He portrayed a sense of satisfaction then stated that they had slowly drifted apart. What in the world kind of explanation is that? This week I was in a conversation with two people at the bagel cafe and as we talked the conversation went to a place where one of the people, a grandmother, speaking about her grandson and his recent marriage stated, “I hope it works out.”

It amazes me that we all seem dumbfounded when the issue of divorce arises. We are all in situations in our work and life where divorce is close to home. We don’t want to speak out of turn about the issue. We have become numb to it. It no longer shocks, it no longer moves us. We don’t want to be “that Christian” as if speaking truth automatically makes you legalistic. Wrong.

Jesus Christ speaks about the husband and wife as a picture of Christ and His Church neither of which should be divorced. Though sin crouches at the door, that should not cause us to throw in the towel. Divorce as an option should still cause us to fight. It should  cause us to cry out to God for mercy. Yes, His grace is sufficient but not at the expense of more and more immorality and sin.

Jesus Christ is crystal clear in this passage. His is consistent throughout the Bible. God has permitted, for his purposes, certificates of divorce BUT this is not a license to consider it an option. God knows the hard hardheartedness of men. He has made allowance for it. Why? I don’t know but something tells me it concerns his common grace toward all men.

If there is GRACE ENOUGH to save a dead soul there is GRACE ENOUGH to save a marriage.

Matthew 5:27-30

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Well … we were eventually going to reach this passage and today we have. We all know it’s there; especially if we are male. How many times have we read this and thought, “I don’t think I could go without an eye” or “I would prefer the use of both hands, thank you.” Growing up, guys were taught that you could “look but you can’t touch.” Is that any real way to live?

The question: How serious was Jesus? He was serious enough to bring up hell (complete, eternal separation from the Triune God). The religious people assumed they were in the clear because they did not commit physical adultery. Jesus reminded his audience that He was about the heart. Jesus reminds us once again, “I am about the heart.” It wasn’t just physical adultery that was an issue – looking and dwelling were issues too. No one is innocent here.

Our deep need for satisfaction will never be met by the things we look at, think about, touch, etc. Our deep longings for missed affection or the lack thereof will never be met by another person or another thing. Our fleshly appetite will never be met with glances or gazes or mental scenarios. Our satisfaction and affection will only be quenched by Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ. He is enough.

Or is He?

Is Jesus enough gentlemen? Ladies, is Jesus enough? As a believer and follower of Jesus you have gained the rights to all that Jesus is and has and offers. Everything! All of it is yours in Christ Jesus. Have you stopped to think about that? You should. Where can you go to see it? I would start in Ephesians (New Testament book of the Bible) Chapter 1.

If only we would grasp the fact that in Christ we have all. Our flesh lies to us. The world lies to us. The adversary lies to us. We are so accustomed to believing lies that when the truth stares in the face we question it.

Don’t question it today. Trust and believe. Jesus is enough. He really, really, really is. 

Matthew 5:25-26

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

How many times have you said, “Well, that got blown way out of proportion.” If you are anything like me you’ve received gold medals and accolades for all the relationships you’ve destroyed along life’s way. This is not something to be proud of. We all look back on those episodes and recognize how differently it should have gone; “if only” is the melody of our life.

When Jesus speaks He provides a plan of action. Life is messy and relationships are messier. When a matter arises settle it quickly. Jesus gives us common sense in action. How do we do this? We communicate through the conflict. We don’t set up a meeting for later in the week. We address the issue immediately. When our focus is Jesus and when our desire to let Jesus love others through us, we will need His help to bring resolution so we can get back to the loving others part.

The problems start to snowball when we don’t do this. When we over think we create chaos. We open ourselves up to more conflict. The situation is handed over to another party, more issues arise. Jesus ends this by saying, “You are going to pay handsomely for it.” – This won’t be a good pay day for anybody.

Jesus is not throwing up abstracts or pie in the sky thinking. He is addressing messy life and messy relationships. He is saying, “I can help. I am Jesus.” Why don’t we let him do what only he can do? As much as we’d like to help, it’d be better if we let Jesus live His life through us. It takes submission and patience on our part. These are things the Holy Spirit helps with. We are not left high and dry.

As we look at His Sermon we must also talk to Jesus. We can ask for His help. This is a great first step; it might even be the only step. Relax and re-engage. There is time to meet that adversary on the road of life today. Talk it out, pray together, let Jesus love that person through you.

Matthew 5:23-24

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

If you’ve ever left something at home and realized it as you drove away you remember having that “ummmm” moment. How we react speaks volumes. What we choose to do speaks volumes too. If it’s important we immediately turn around and go back home and get that thing we forgot. If it is not that important we debate in our mind whether going back is actually worth it. Our inner dialogue begins. We wait to see who or what wins out.

Jesus is after the heart. He is after our hearts. How we view others, react to others, and love others is vitally important. Jesus says that love sums up the Law and the Prophets. Translated, this is a big deal.

All of us attend church with other things on our minds. Often times it revolves around food or our tasks once we arrive. How often do we stop to do a heart check; to ask God if we have left any relationship, any conversation, which is in need of repair, unresolved? Remember, Jesus is after the heart. Our passage seems to say that the gift is important but the reconciled relationship takes precedent.

Now in our world of go, go, go we can’t fathom turning the car around on our way to church to heal a broken relationship. What we can do instead is work diligently to keep our relationships dedicated to and surrounded with Jesus. Don’t leave the scene of the crime, the accident, without repair. Don’t go be religious and forget the great commands of Jesus.

As we let Jesus live through us He will help us with this. As we keep our relationships whetted in Christ we won’t need to fret about such things. The more WE do to keep our relationships afloat the less we allow Jesus to engage, rearrange, heal, and bless those that we love and those we love to be with.

His Sermon is less about what we do and more about what He can and will do. Will you let Him? Will you let Jesus live His Life through you?

Matthew 5:21-22

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

We want to hear the truth. We believe that we can handle the truth too. We seek out those things we want to know and we don’t want to me misdirected. We hear things in passing and we read articles with opinions but deep down we want to know what is actually true. No beating around the bush. When we realize that what we have been told or read was in fact wrong we enjoy the fact that we discovered the truth. Jesus was excellent at showing people “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Jesus acknowledged what had been heard, in the past, but he already knew it was skewed, flawed, and had missed the mark. It wasn’t what Moses had written down, those very words of God – it was how the religious leaders, over time, had twisted the words. Sound familiar?

It would very easy for us to say, “Well, I’ve never murdered someone.” True, if we stopped right there we’d be free and clear. No condemnation – five gold stars. The problem is Jesus was after the heart. He was after their hearts and he is after our hearts.

Now our hearts are a different matter. How many times have we been angry, irate, uncontrolled towards another? How many times have we spoken words against someone? How often have we been the one who said that awful word to another? Now we recognize, or we should, that our hearts are skewed, flawed, and indifferent. Jesus pronounces judgment on such things.

The good news is this: Jesus came to save, rescue, change, and create a new heart for each one of us. This heart would beat for Him and Him alone. This heart would love Jesus. This heart would love others because this heart loved Jesus. But our hearts, in the flesh, cannot win this battle. Only Jesus can. What is keeping you from submitting your whole heart to Jesus? What is keeping you from allowing the Heart-Changer to live His life through you? Only when he does this will we be truly able to love others and speak true words to others. This is His Sermon in action.

Let Jesus do the work. We must submit to Him. Our hearts, if they have been changed by Jesus, already love Him. Let Jesus, through our changed hearts, love others.