Countdown to Christmas 2020: What have you heard?

“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.

“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.” 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5 NIV

Jesus speaks to the crowds and disciples following him. He refers to familiar teaching from the law of Moses.

  • Do not murder.
  • Do not commit adultery.
  • An eye for an eye retribution.
  • Love your neighbor.

We may, like those listening, go through this list and say to ourselves, I am free of judgement. I have never murdered, been a faithful spouse, love my neighbor, etc.

But Jesus tells us God cares about our heart attitude as much as our outward adherence to his laws. Uh oh…here’s where he gets personal.

Jesus asks:

  • Have you been angry with your sister or brother?
  • Have you desired another’s spouse in your heart?
  • Have you responded to an offense in kind? Resisted when approached with a need?
  • Do you love your enemies?

The judgement of God falls on all of us when our motivations and thoughts are called into question. This is bad news for those of us to try to do good to earn the favor of God by our deeds.

I understand why there were those who didn’t like the teaching of Jesus. I don’t want my thoughts examined, my motivations questioned. Why? Because I am guilty and Jesus knows it.

No surprise the God of the universe, the One who created me, knows my ways and my heart. But the beauty of Jesus’ words is they are spoken in love for my benefit. Jesus was not sent to condemn me but to save me!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

How can God correct me without pointing out the error of my way? How can he guide if I persist in rebellion?

All good parents understand the importance of discipline. Our Father in heaven, gave us the gift of his Son on Christmas morning to testify to the truth (John 18:37).

But that’s not all…

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