Lessons Of A Lifetime


Scripture To Consider:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”                                   Matthew 5.33-42

Something To Consider:
Jesus often engaged in a teaching strategy of recalling to the student or listener that which was already known. From that point of reference, He moved forward amplifying or adding new layers of unknown truth upon a previously placed foundation of truth. This was a widely used and much taught method and principle in the earlier years of the educational process in many cultures.

The Jewish teachers were serious schoolmasters as it pertained to telling and teaching the truth. The old saying was; “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.” Jesus was paraphrasing Numbers 30.2 which declared; “If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

Moses goes on in verses 3-4 to include this warning to women as well. In other words, as believers we are to be men, women, and young people who are truthful to our word. We are to be those who tell the truth. According to Jesus, “Nothing but the truth”, should be our motto. And if not, can we honestly claim to truly be among those named as Christians? If we do not live by nothing but the truth, how can what we say be trusted? If we do not direct our lives according to nothing but the truth we are headed for spiritual destruction.

Something Else To Consider:
In the Jewish culture of that day, oaths, or the swearing of oaths were divided into two types. There were oaths that were considered absolutely binding and others that were not. Whatever oath that included God in the oath itself was considered binding. But if the oath did not contain God and was sworn by such things as heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem, these oaths were thought of as not binding. The end result from God’s perspective was that their oath making and breaking had become nothing more or less than a refined art form of lying.

And yet, life for the Christian cannot be broken into so many compartments of which only a few contain God. God is everywhere! According to Jesus, God is in heaven, on earth, and in Jerusalem. That is, God’s presence, and as important, His influence is everywhere. God is not only in our religious circles of so-called church or religion, but God is in every aspect of everyday life.

God is in the business world, He is in the home, the factories, the educational system, and also in the political arena. God is everywhere to the extent that He is allowed, invited, and welcome. And if the truth were to be known we would have to admit that the extent of God’s being welcome has been and does continue to shrink due to man’s refusal to fully allow God to be involved in the affairs of humankind. And because of this truthful fact, lawlessness is abounding and will continue to abound until the end as according to Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24.12!

Therefore, let us heed the words of Jesus. “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” In other words, let our lives be living epistles, living testimonies to the truth of godly lived lives characterized by telling the truth and living by nothing but the truth. A life lived by nothing but the truth is like a home built upon a firm foundation. The truth, the Word of God, should be and must be our foundation of hope in Christ Jesus.

Something More To Consider:
The conduct depicted in our Scripture to consider by Jesus, if carried out according to its decree, will by all means distinguish the true Christian man, woman, and or young person from others in the world. Jesus also instructs us concerning revealed mercy by quoting one of the oldest laws in existence, when He stated, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Moses wrote of this judgment that was based on the premise of equal punishment to suit the injustice, in no less than three Old Testament books of the law. We find this law in Exodus 21, Leviticus 24, and in Deuteronomy 19; of which all contain this measured balance of equal retaliation. And yet, this law goes back before the time of Moses to a Babylonian origin.

Many have turned to these injunctions within the law to attempt to portray the Old Testament as barbaric, vengeful, or merciless. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, after a closer inspection of the customs, harsh practices, and cruel treatments of entire tribes, cities, and countries, because of a small injustice, or a single infraction of one human being against another, this law takes on a whole other meaning entirely.

Prior to this law calling for equal retaliation only, whole tribes, entire clans, complete cities, and nations fell prey to ruthless, bloodthirsty vengeance leading to the brutal and insane deaths of many. Unlimited vengeance unleashed on the innocent was man’s way of vindictive so-called justice, revealing very clearly man’s sinful nature and violent means of revenge.

When looked at in the light of history, this law, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, is better seen as a law of revealed mercy and a much-needed injunction to curb the senseless slaughter of multitudes of innocent people. The world is better with this injunction then it was without it! And yet, not every nation abides by the teaching, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

A Few Final Words:
Nonetheless, the end result of this long-needed law was a cry from heaven for limited punishment. This law and others like it shed precious illuminating light on the heart of God insisting on mercy much more than unlimited vengeance. But Jesus once again increased the boundaries of the Old Testament law regarding mercy.

Jesus gave us a picture that reveals to the believer a more sacred principle that refutes retaliation, no matter how controlled and restricted. He opens our eyes to the truth that retaliation, no matter how deserved, even limited vengeance, no matter how much desired, has no place in the life of a true Christian or true Christianity; that is if we are attempting to live by nothing but the truth of God’s Word.

Telling the truth is essential to living a life pleasing to God and should be as natural as breathing. For without the truth, and nothing but the truth, life becomes nothing more than a lie. Therefore, to the spiritual leader or leader in training, vengeance and retaliation for wrongs suffered must be surrendered at the cross of Him who suffered for all wrongs, including our wrongs!

Our Father in heaven, this lesson of a lifetime can only be learned by Your Holy Spirit transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. In Him Always, Amen!

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