Breaking the Mold
Lord, examine the deep places of my heart so I may know You better and share Your life more fully.
What is at the heart of Jesus' words?
Jesus reflects on the law, and not only does he hold his hearers to its standards, he raises the standard. Doesn't Jesus set us free from being legalistic? Yes, indeed he does!
Jesus looks at the swearing of oaths (33-37), the right to revenge (38-42), and the limits of love (43-48). Jewish teaching is clear. You can seal your oath by binding it to God or something to do with God. You can exact compensation for a crime committed against you (but no more and no less). You must care for your "neighbor" (someone of the same race and religion), but are free to neglect or reject everyone else.
Now Jesus, the liberator who sets us free, demolishes the walls of these narrow-focused rules. He dismisses "sacred" oaths by saying our own character will prove our word. He irrigates the desert of legalism with rivers of grace. He dismantles the barriers between neighbor and stranger, friend and foe, by declaring that our Father God loves all equally and immeasurably; and so must we.
Be a person of your word. Let God bring justice for you. Love even as you have been loved.
Thank You, Lord, that You set me free from the letter of the law, and, in Christ, give me hope of living in true integrity.
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