“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Matthew 5:21-26, NKJV
It’s easy to point fingers at the “big sins.” Murderers, rapists, robbers, scandalous tax collectors – they’re all the bad guys who deserve God’s wrath.
But what’s this that Jesus is saying?
Yes, murder is bad. And whoever murders will face judgment.
But guess what? Being angry at someone for no reason is right up there with murder! Continue reading
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
This passage comes right on the heels of “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you.”
I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
It’s often easy for us – especially if we’ve grown up in the church and are already familiar with a passage, to accept the separations of chapters and verses and miss the broader context and flow of meaning. But Jesus’ sermon wasn’t a random hodge-podge of various topics.
So why did He go from a discourse on the blessings of persecution to suddenly talking metaphors of light and dark? Continue reading
A verse-by-verse commentary on Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
True joy and success belong to the one who is dedicated to uprightness. He does not listen to every piece of advice, but weighs it carefully in wisdom, choosing not to act upon the promptings of the foolish or wicked. He does not stand for what is wrong, but boldly stands for what is right. He does not make friends with those who mock the truth – rather, he is mocked and rejected because of his stand.
What does God want? The bare minimum – or an A+?
The other night I was reading in Malachi 1, and I was struck by several of its verses:
A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is my reverence?
Says the LORD of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the LORD of hosts.
You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the LORD.
“But cursed be the deceiver
Who has in his flock a male,
And takes a vow,
But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished –
For I am a great King,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations.”
(Malachi 1:6, 8, 13-14)