THE ULTIMATE STANDARD
Lord, I want to be like You. Open Your words of life to me today.
Read Matthew 5:33–48
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Eye for Eye
38 “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.
Love for Enemies
43 “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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhose strength are you leaning on as you seek to obey God’s commands?
Have you ever made a promise and then fiddled it a bit? Is every promise really binding? Or has a person you don’t really trust ever asked you for a loan? How do you respond? And when someone has hurt you more than once, do you ask yourself when enough is enough?
In this stage of the sermon Jesus calls us to new standards of morality. As in yesterday’s segment, Jesus set the common religious answers of the day—“You’ve heard…”—over against his own answers. Follow his cluster of contrasts and notice the pattern. See how his rhythmic set of scenarios press us to apply new and higher standards.
Pay special attention to the final paragraph where Jesus reached his high-water mark: we should live as the “children of your Father in heaven” (45). And what’s the Father like? “Perfect.” So, Jesus taught, always make the Father’s devotion to you the standard for your own decisions.
How does the Father view you? Jesus, who knows the Father’s love, assures us of his perfect devotion. And now as you care for others, share the same care he offers you.
Have you fallen short of God’s standards? Entrust yourself to Christ today, to hold and keep you firmly planted in his ways.
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