Matthew 5:21a and 22a “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago … But I tell you …”
“I don’t care what ‘THEY’ say! You need to listen to me!”
How many times have you heard this as a child or said it to your own children? There are many voices in the world clamoring for our attention, but it is incredibly important to make sure we are listening and obeying the right one. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He addressed some misinformation and reminded His disciples to listen and obey His truth.
The Jewish nation had received God’s law many years before. Their forefather and acclaimed prophet, Moses, climbed Mount Sinai, bringing back with Him the very words of God inscribed on stone tablets. This list of ten commandments guided the people’s behavior towards God Himself and towards others. But over the years the religious leaders took the initiative to interpret these laws in their own way and to impose their version of the meaning on the people.
Jesus warned His listeners that if they wanted to be right with God then their righteousness needed to surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. These leaders had a way of getting around God’s meaning in the Ten Commandments and thought that if they conceded outwardly or at least if no one knew what they were doing then they were okay. They imposed incredibly difficult boundaries on the people and yet didn’t follow the intent of the Law themselves.
Jesus exposed the hypocrisy for what it was. “You have heard it said …” he taught, “but I say to you … .” Jesus explained that any outward obedience would be null and void if the heart wasn’t right. He then gave some examples .
“You have been told, ‘Do not murder’, but I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” The outward action of murder starts as a seed of anger towards a fellow man. This inner attitude festers until the action takes place. Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter. You haven’t kept the Law until every thought and intention of your heart is perfect.
Jesus gave another example. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’” Again the issue was not just an outward action but the heart attitude that started it.
Jesus goes on to share other examples of things the people had been taught that needed to be moved to a deeper level of inner attitude.
We would do well to consider these things today. What we do in the secrecy of our own homes or with our devices makes a difference to our adherence to God’s laws. It is not only about what others say or what others can see. God looks deep into the recesses of our inner being and judges even our thoughts.
This is a scary thing because even the best of us have thoughts that would displease God. Yet in our honesty we recognize that we can’t reach God’s standard on our own. And that is exactly what the Law was meant to do: point us to our need for a Savior. And that is exactly Who Jesus is: The One who by living a perfect life, fulfilled the Law for us. It is only through Him that we can become right with God.
There are many voices in the world today. “THEY” are telling you one thing and God is telling you another. Who are you going to listen to?
Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.