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Jesus gave ten examples to help us understand that the kingdom is a matter of the heart. We will explore three more here. Because they are examples, the “doing” of these sayings is easier to identify – and that is a good thing. However, we must remember that Jesus’ focus remains on our hearts, not our performance; the goal is to be made into kingdom citizens, not to make or justify ourselves.

Do Not Swear at All

Most of Jesus’ sayings in the Sermon on the Mount – you know, those sayings we are to do – are truly beyond our human ability. They are only accomplished by the life of Jesus Christ, the One who has come to live in us. Here we find an exception – one saying that appears quite easy to obey. And yet, mankind has amazingly chosen to do something in complete opposition to what Jesus has said. Truly, how do we excuse ourselves?

Consider the matter of oath taking. Jesus said:

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37

Could anything be more clear? Whatever is more than our “yes” and “no” is from the evil one. Why then do so many followers of Jesus Christ submit to the courts of this nation, put one hand on a Bible, raise the other, and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Is this not taking an oath? Does it make it okay – or does it make it worse – that a Bible is used in this process?

These questions lead us to a deeper kingdom principle; something deeper than dos and don’ts. For those with eyes to see, this is a great example of the subtly of the evil one’s deception; leading to our conformity to the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowGive to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Matthew 5:42

Honestly, I have had more questions than answers about this verse. Does this include every person on every corner that is holding up a “please help” sign? What about the professional panhandlers I come across in downtown Atlanta? What if they are going to use it for drugs or some other addiction?

Do I donate every time every organization sends a request? Does this include candidates for political office, or just people in need? What if I run out of money; won’t I become a part of the problem? Is there not some other way to understand this saying of Jesus Christ? Did He really mean what He is saying here?

I have an opinion about the meaning of this saying; but does my opinion matter? Perhaps more important is what all these questions reveal. Am I looking for understanding; or for an excuse to move this verse to the “consider later” basket; and move on to something else?

It seems this verse is pivotal in our discussion and obedience to “these sayings of mine” in the Sermon on the Mount and beyond. There is this option of moving on to “easier” sayings, but if we start now, I guarantee most of the rest will go in the same direction; and habits are hard to break. Perhaps now is the time to face our fears and deal with the reality of our commitment to faith and obedience. Read the rest of this entry »

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