I mentioned in last week’s post that I began the book of Matthew. The past few days I’ve been in the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7). I’ve read it before, heard sermons on it before, but this time I noticed a common thing as I studied.
- Jesus says that we know that God told Moses to tell the people not to murder and those who murder will be judged and punished. He then goes on to say that those who are angry with their brother will be judged (chapter 5).
- Jesus again says that we know that God forbade adultery; however, He says any man who lustfully looks at a woman has committed adultery in his heart (chapter 5).
- Jesus says that we are to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors (chapter 5).
- Jesus says that when we give, do not do so in front of other people where we will be praised, but to do it secretly in front of the Lord (chapter 6).
- Jesus says not to pray in front of others as if it is a show or to ramble on, but to pray privately and concisely (chapter 6).
- Jesus says to forgive or we will not be forgiven (chapter 6).
- Jesus says that when we fast, do not make a spectacle of it, do it quietly (chapter 6).
- Jesus says not to worry (chapter 6).
- Jesus says not to judge others, because how we judge, we will be judged (chapter 7).
- Jesus says that those who seek will find what they seek, that we should continue to ask for what we need (chapter 7).
- Jesus says to treat others as we want to be treated (chapter 7).
Do you notice a common theme? All of these things have to do with our relationship with God (e.g. are we praying just so others will see us or do we have a true relationship with God?) and the spiritual condition of our hearts (e.g. yes, murdering is bad, yet God says so is harboring anger at someone).
If you’re like me, you look at this and think that this is impossible. When you’re having a terrible day it’s hard to treat someone how you want to be treated, when things are hard it’s difficult to trust God and not worry. Yet these things I have listed (only some of the things that Jesus says in this sermon, there is plenty more!) give me hope.
I have hope in the fact that Jesus lived a sinless life. Hebrews 4:15-16 in the Voice translation says, “For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious without failing God. So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace when we need it most.” Isn’t that amazing? Jesus knows these things are hard to do, yet we have the Spirit to guide us and the free-flowing grace of God at our fingertips (for more on this topic, check out a previous post: Victory in Jesus).
I also have hope because I know that my relationship with God is what’s important. I don’t have to put up this charade that I have my life together so that other people will see. I also know that when I have a real relationship God I am filled with the Holy Spirit, and Galatians chapter 5 says that the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When you have a real relationship with God these things will start to become a part of who you are, and when these things are a part of who you are, doing what God wants you to do instead of what you want to do becomes more natural.
We will always struggle, we are human, but when we take part in a real, intimate relationship with God and allow our hearts to change, we find it is easier to live like Jesus.
Check out the Sermon on the Mount for yourself if you haven’t before, or if you have, read it again. The Word of God is alive and relevant.
Photo Credit: Cherry Laithang