Putting It Into Practice
Eternal God, teach me about the endlessness of time, yet remind me that You have already packed it all into this present moment.
Consider: "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
From this point on the Sermon on the Mount is concerned with putting Jesus' teaching into practice. In the Greek the word "do" occurs seven times, variously translated into English as "bear" (fruit), "do" (the will of God), "perform" (miracles), or "put into practice" (Jesus' words). The choice in each case is stark: there are only two options: to follow Jesus' way or to go with the crowd. How often we try to negotiate a compromise! Jesus is telling us in four different ways that there isn't any compromise.
The gate is hard to find, like some of the gates in the wall around the ancient city of Jerusalem. The road is hard. All sorts of people are deluded into thinking they are on it. There are plenty of "prophets" (like those in 1 Kings 22) who offer a seemingly attractive future, luring us away from Jesus' narrow way. That's as true today as it was then. The marketplace is flooded with "Christian" books that make us feel good with their emphasis on the blessings that God has for us, with no mention of the single-minded commitment that Jesus demands. The Gospel gets reduced to "making a decision" without the accompanying challenge to live a counter-cultural life.
Your righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees (5:20), you must be perfect like your heavenly Father (5:48), you must forgive (6:12,14,15), you cannot serve God and money (6:24), and you should treat others as you want them to treat you (7:12). Impossible? Remember, this teaching was given to Jesus' disciples (5:1), who were drawn by Jesus' utter attractiveness, his authority, insight and integrity. We can add our knowledge that he loved us to the end and has given us his Spirit. God works in us what we could never accomplish ourselves.
In living your life, do you tend to walk on the broad road or the narrow road (13,14)? What makes the broad road most tempting to you? What makes the narrow road difficult? Rewarding?
Lord Jesus, I offer myself to You unreservedly. By Your Spirit produce in me the fruit that testifies that I am Yours.
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