With a huge snow storm bearing down on today and tomorrow might be the last two posts you read on here for a few days…I’ll still be writing, but one of the latest maps I saw on www.weather.com showed the areas that were LIKELY to lose power. Guess what? My house is right in the heart of that area, so if the power goes out and I’m stuck in my house I won’t have a way of posting my writings. If that happens you’ll have several to read in one day sometime next week. Please pray for our area, people seem to panic with the prediction of snow…yesterday we got an inch and the reports were about how snarled traffic was. Having lived in Ohio, Nebraska, and Michigan I’m slightly amused by this, but I know it is truly stressful for folk and so please pray that everyone remains safe and calm.
Now to Matthew 5-7…WOW! I can read these chapters a thousand times and they are ALWAYS a blessing. These chapters of course are Jesus’ most famous discourse while He walked this earth, the Sermon on the Mount. I could spend a whole week easily just blogging through these chapters, but for my sake and yours I am going to limit myself to four points to share with you about what struck me in my reading today.
- 5:13-16 is about being witnesses and then without breaking stride Jesus moves straight into upholding the law of God. The thought occurred to me, while we don’t keep the law for the salvation of ourselves, do we keep the law in part to encourage the salvation of others. Is law keeping a way of salting the earth? Is law keeping a way of being a light to the world? Of course the answer is “Yes” but it is so very clear in these verses that to be a true witness of Jesus we need to keep and affirm His commandments, and if we “annul one of the least of these commandments” and by thus doing we are “teaching others to do the same” we are not true salt or light for Jesus.
- One of the most neglected Christian practices, seeking forgiveness when you’ve done nothing wrong (5:23, 24). Jesus instructs Christians, “if your brother (another believer) has something against you…” Jesus doesn’t say, “If you’ve done something” or “If you injured someone” The only qualification is that they have something against me. We have forgotten how to seek forgiveness even when we’ve done nothing wrong. Jesus in this instruction shows me that the “relationship” between me and my fellow man trumps being right. The relationship is everything.
- I used to hold grudges. I used to have jealousy in my heart. I used to have enemies, Christina used to say all the time, “be nice” or she’d ask, “Why don’t you like that person?” and I’d say, “I just don’t.” I am not claiming any kind of perfection. I still get mad and people still irritate me, but Jesus through the idea and concept of 5:45-47 has helped me to let slights and grudges, jealousies and malice go with greater ease than when I was young. “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 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?” Jesus then ends this thought with the following statement in verse 48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What is perfection? Loving and treating those well that don’t treat you well. When it dawned on me that I couldn’t be a Christian and have so many enemies because those very enemies I was trying to curse by my attitude towards them Jesus is continually blessing just like He’s blessing me. In other words if I’m holding a grudge, having an attitude against, saying things about I am actually working against the very blessings of God. I don’t ever want to be working against God. So I stopped holding grudges, being jealous, having malice towards another and guess what? Not only do I treat people better, I’m actually much happier in my heart! It takes a lot out of us to work against the blessings of God. So be perfect love the people you don’t currently love!
- 7:24-27 Two groups of people, only two—those who hear the words of Jesus and act (respond by doing what the words tell us to do & those who hear the words of Jesus and do not act. Folk we are reading the Bible through this entire year, but we’re still in the foolish/lost group if the reading and studying and learning does not lead us to ACT in response for Jesus!
Four points from today’s reading, we could have had 40 points! What were some of yours?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Romans 7-8