“Listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20b-22
Greetings fellow sojourners! Before we get started let’s recall, “no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) but an opportunity for change! It is easy to judge a sin by what we observe with our fleshly eyes and then apply our own weights and measures. However, Jesus says he looks at what is in the heart and judges there. We have no idea what goes on in someone else’s heart and if truth be told we rarely admit and face what is going on in our own. Let’s also recall, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but you don’t notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Someone who corrects the minor faults of others without attending to his own more serious fault is a hypocrite. Interestingly, a hypocrite originally referred to actors who performed in Greek or Roman theaters. Hypocrites are spiritual actors who pretend to have piety in order to win human approval. Yuck.
We must guard our heart. What stirs in our heart is just the beginning of a future action. When the action is birthed we view it and are shocked, yet it has already been stirring in the heart for some time. And, the Lord has already seen it. Are we allowing thoughts that are out of line with the word of God to take up residence in the same temple as the Holy Spirit? We think all manner of things in our mind without saying it out loud. We also pray quietly in our mind without saying it out loud. Do we seriously think The Lord hears only the prayer?
We each must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). God works in us, enabling us both to desire and work out His good purpose (v13). Let’s take a look at some verses from Matthew 5:21-44, keeping in mind the importance of guarding our heart. We have heard we should not manifest certain behaviors but Jesus says it is a matter of the heart. The following are generally known as the “Six Antitheses.” Jesus always upheld the Old Testament authority but opposed the misguided interpretations of the scribes and Pharisees.
~ You have heard do not murder, whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. (v 21-22)
~ You have heard do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks in order to lust has already committed adultery in the heart. (v27-28)
~ It was said whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (v 31-32)
~ You have heard you must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all. Let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. (v33-34a, 37a)
~ You have heard an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. (v 38-39a)
~ You have heard love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (v 43-44) (Interesting that ‘hate your enemy’ does not appear anywhere in the OT.)
I want to go further with God, don’t you? We have been in the shallow water long enough, let’s go to the deep places with Him. Let’s give the Lord full access to the attitudes in our heart. He loves you. You can trust Him completely, even in the hidden places.
In His grace,