“God is good. You are bad. Stop it!” So many of us took this motto from our church experience. We believed that God is good and perfect in every way and we are the complete opposite and it is up to us to act right. That’s why basing our righteousness on externalities has been embedded in so many people’s brains. Jesus died to save us from the bondage of externalities…of always trying to be perfect. He came to save our souls, so that our hearts would be made new. We are a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) I think the more accurate saying is this: “God is good. You are new. Grow up!” We must grow up into a matured heart, that resembles Jesus’ heart. When the heart is right, the external manifestation is right. When the heart is not right, we struggle, pretend, and stay frustrated because we just can’t seem to get our act together.
When I was a kid, no matter what my parents told me, I can remember a season in my life where my rebuttal was often, “But…”. Can anyone relate? Do you have children that do it to you now? Things always seem to come back to us, don’t they?!!!
While the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees consisted of external righteousness, Jesus takes some time to contrast the internal righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven. He does this with a bunch of “Buts”. He expresses that the scribes and the Pharisees are demanding this, BUT He is going to get to root of what is going on in our hearts.
“You’ve heard it say” don’t murder, “But I say” the problem is there is ANGER in your hearts. Anger is a strong emotion that is about destroying. God gave us this emotion. But if we keep it inside we destroy ourselves. If we let it out with no Spirit of self-control, we destroy other people, but God gave us anger to destroy problems so they don’t continue to occur. The truth is that if we begin to partner with God and let His Spirit grow us up in what to do with our anger, murder wouldn’t be an issue.
“You’ve heard it say” don’t commit adultery, “But I say” the problem is there is LUST in your hearts. Jesus’ response is twofold: He makes a bit of jest at the Pharisees enforcement of the Law, declaring that if we were to follow their example, we’d all be a bunch of maimed stumps! How absurd! The truth is that we must have spiritual radical amputation. We must remove ourselves from things that would draw our hearts away. This varies in what that thing is and the degree that we must remove it for our lives. We cannot compare this with other people because they may not have the same bent as us. If our heart is right and focused on God and motivated to share His love and truth with others, there is no room for LUST and no time to commit adultery.
(we will talk divorce a little later in Matthew 19)
“You’ve heard it say” don’t swear, “But I say” the problem is there is DISHONESTY in your hearts. Jesus was not talking about cursing here, He was speaking of swearing about everything we say, to prove it is true. It’s like when we say something and follow it by, “I swear!” The scribes and Pharisees made people swear or take an oath with just about everything that was said. Jesus was expressing that if we have an honest heart, our YES will be YES and our NO will be NO. Our conversations ought to be so integrity filled, honest, and true, that we would not have to swear, in order for others to believe us.
“You’ve heard it say” you get what you dish out, “But I say” the problem is there is RETALIATION in your hearts. In ancient Jewish culture, striking a person’s cheek was a way to inflict shame, not just pain, on a person. Jesus told us that revenge is His and He will repay (Romans 12:19).This needs to be explained a bit because most people think this is referring to a physical blow. And since there are all kinds of Scriptural evidences that God’s people did not turn the other cheek, we must understand that this is speaking more about insults and belittling. In ancient Jewish culture, striking a person’s cheek was a way to inflict shame, not just pain, on a person. It was hurling insults, speaking ill of, and making people feel small, ashamed, and “below” them. To turn the other cheek was an expression of knowing their personal value and not allowing someone to make you feel under them, but rather standing as their equal. When Jesus told us to turn our cheek, He was saying that our heart must be to stand firm that we are His beloved child with great value, and we do not bend beneath anyone. We do not retaliate, we love.
“You’ve heard it say” love your neighbor and hate your enemy, “But I say” the problem is there is UNSURRENDER in your hearts. The call God has for His children is to extend love to all. This love has nothing to do with reciprocation. This love has nothing to do with discrimination. This love is an act of our will, not merely an emotion. This love is the truest mark of maturity, it is the most like Jesus we can be, and it is the most accurate representation of the Father that we can offer others.
Kingdom Living Is Allowing The King To Perfect Your Heart
And this word “perfect” does not mean “sinlessly” perfect, but rather it suggests a maturing, and a completing as we surrender our hearts to be molded by our Potter, the King of Kings. So that we can learn how to live in the Kingdom, and acccurate represent the Kingdom, while we are HERE.
Where is God growing you up right now?