One thing that constantly amazes me about God’s Word is that no matter how many times you read it, you still learn something new. I know that this is an overused adage, but it is so true, and I experienced that in a big way over the last couple of days.
Without going into too much detail, I have been on quite a journey over the past couple of months. Not only in my walk with God, but in understanding what it truly is that I am called to. So many times Christians worry over what we are supposed to do – what is our purpose? What specifically are we supposed to do in furthering the Kingdom and being the church as it was when Christ left in Acts chapter 2. While there are specific things that we are called to do, I found a sobering reality in Matthew, specifically in chapters 5 and 6.
Matthew 5 begins Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. During this sermon, Jesus is essentially laying out the troubleshooting guide for how to handle a wide variety of situations. Starting at v. 38, He talks about how to handle revenge. This is where we get the infamous “eye for an eye” reference, but it is this portion that really gets me:
v. 42: “Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.” – let that marinate for a second. In the same section where Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, He takes it to the next level and says that we need to give to those who ask. Jesus is giving us the charge to give to those who ask…there is no qualifier, we are just supposed to give.
In verse 43, the section talks about loving your enemies…not just tolerating them, but loving them. While that seems like a casual word, keep in mind that true love is sacrificing of yourself for someone else’s needs. I struggled with this the past couple of weeks. I encountered a situation with someone where I felt justified being upset, and this chapter reminds me that in all circumstances, I must love them. Once again, no qualifiers, just the concrete fact that you need to love your enemies. Talk about humbling.
After that reality check, I wanted to read chapter 6 to see what followed this incredibly humbling command. It had been a while since I read through Matthew, so I was hoping that there was some sort of intrinsic payoff. There has to be some sort of prize for doing this.
Here’s some of the highlights of Matthew 6:
v. 1: “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.”
v. 2: “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!”
v.6: “When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.”
v. 19: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.”
Through the first half of the chapter, Jesus takes it even further. Whatever we do needs to be private. Not only are we called to love our enemies and turn the other cheek, but you don’t make a show of what it is that we are called to do. Nothing in the Bible is accidental. There is a reason why Jesus said these in this order. After we forgive those who hurt us and love our enemies, now you give and pray and love, but don’t make a show of it. The bar is raised
These chapters spoke to me that this is what we are required to do: sacrifice. We need to BE the church, not force people to COME to church to experience Jesus. We need to show the love of Jesus, not just talk about how Jesus loves people.
We need to give until it hurts. We need to love until it hurts. We need to put other people’s needs above our own. There is no disclaimer on who deserves it or what they have to do. We are called to show the love of Christ, not beat people over the head with it. Like someone I respect once told me: “we may not know everyone, but we know who made them, and that’s all that matters.”
That is a challenge that my family and I are taking. Will we be perfect at it? No, but that is the beauty of it all: God doesn’t demand perfection, He just demands our best.
And what about when it gets tough? When it does get to the point of hurting? That’s when I will be reminded of the promises in verses 33:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything that you need.”