In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is calling His followers to be radically different than the world. He is correcting the misunderstood, misinterpreted, and mistaught laws of God in the Old Testament that resulted in an external form of religion but was void of devotion to Him out of love. The first thing we saw was that truthfulness is to be a defining characteristic of a Christian. Promises are not just meant to be empty words but speak to one’s personal integrity. He wants His followers to be identified by radical honesty in a world of deception and deceit.
We need to remember that we are going to give an account of all our words (Matt. 1:26). If you tell someone you will commit to something, then do it. If you tell someone you will be there, then be there. Jesus followed His call to honesty with a command that still shocks the world to this day. We are all about payback and revenge. If you do something to me, I’m going to do something to you. In the Old Testament, God gave His people some guidelines for administering civil and criminal justice. They served as a deterrent to criminal acts because if you do something, it’s going to come back on you in equal measure. In Jesus’ day they were applying the “eye for eye” law to everything and everybody like vigilante justice. They twisted this law into making retribution an obligation! You ram my car; I’m obligated to ram yours. If you insult me because of my faith (slapping my face), I am obligated to slap you back… Jesus says in effect, “no, you’re getting this wrong, I never intended the law to limit the love and grace that you should show one another.” If someone insults you because of your faith, don’t take them to court and make a huge deal of it, show them radical grace by not retaliating back. Now please hear me! If you are genuinely wronged, the legal system is there for you to take the appropriate measures, but if you are just trying to get even, then let it go. There is no point in trading insults for insults. I hope you are getting the big picture. Jesus wants your heart, not just your head. He wants you to represent Him to the world around you in a way that is winsome and radically different than the status quo. Be truthful and allow Him to be glorified in your actions. Press On, Pastor Brian