””You have heard…But I say“” Matthew 5:27-28
In the next passage from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21-30) Jesus talksabout some of the rules and regulations that had been handed down through the generations. Rules that came straight from God via Moses. Rules like do not commit murder and do not commit adultery. Rules that the people did not object to and for the most part were able to live by. But then Jesus completely raises the bar.
The people were used to living by the letter of the law – not murdering people and not sleeping around (with some exceptions obviously, like the couple in John 8…). But then Jesus reveals the Kingdom Standards. These standards went way beyond what anyone could have anticipated. The people were used to following the rules out of religious obligation, not doing anything that explicitly broke a command from God but ignoring the spirit of the law. Jesus revealed that when we live as Kingdom citizens we do not follow laws out of religious obligation but because we are in a relationship with the King who loves us, and we want to meet his standards. And God cares about the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. He cares, not just about our physical actions, but the attitude of our heart as well.
Jesus tells us that getting angry with someone is just as bad as murdering someone. And looking lustfully at a woman is as bad as sleeping with her. As He tells us the Kingdom standards we are called to live by He doesn’t just raise the bar, He totally shakes up people’s understanding of the Law. They thought they just had to do the right things and avoid the very bad visible obvious sins, but Jesus teaches that God looks at the heart and cares about the secret sins. The sins that don’t seem to hurt anyone, but are slowly decaying us from the inside out. The lustful thoughtsthat will one day grow into an affair. The anger that builds and multiplies within us until one day we cannot contain our temper anymore and we lash out in frustration. Kingdom standards are much much higher than worldly standards. Kingdom standards aren’t about looking good to those around us but being righteous before our holy God.
The world around us keeps lowering its standards, but the Kingdom standards remain constant. God’s standards will not change. As society becomes more and more tolerant of lower standards it is more and more important we do not live by worldly standards but by Kingdom standards. For as Kingdom citizens our standards and values come not from society but from God. Just because popular culture says it is ok Jesus reminds us that God has a higher, better standard for us. We are called to live a life of holiness, and that means living by God’s Kingdom standards.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7
- Do you consider getting angry as bad as murder? Lust as serious as adultery? Why/why not?
- What low standards does society accept that as Kingdom citizens we can not stoop to?
- When God looks at you heart what does He see?