We have hit the home stretch, a few weeks left until we finish up winter! We have one more section of Scripture to cover in these next few weeks and I think it will change the way we look at things. Have you ever noticed that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? But when you go over there you realize that it is artificial turf! Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Changing dance partners is a phrase we hear in racing when things are not going the way we expected. We switch things around to see if we can find the right combination of people to make the team work. Sometimes this change is peaceful and sometimes there are hard feelings. How is it that something that seemed so right at one point now is all wrong? I think it has to do with human nature, our unwillingness to see things from a different perspective. The teams that taste success also tend to be the most flexible.
I’ve noticed that some teams are surrounded by change and others stay pretty consistent. In my observation the teams that are the most stable tend to perform the best. The ones that are always changing and do not have some sort of foundation to hold them do not. You can look across the sporting world and you can see teams that are successful when the leadership is consistent as opposed to when change is every other week. Consistency comes with a solid foundation.
Race teams that are consistent performers are the ones that are less likely to change personnel every year. They have a stability and purpose. Especially when faced with adversity, solid teams can respond and comeback. Jesus helps us understand that we are too quick to change dance partners in life. Whether it be in marriage, friendships or even acquaintances we switch instead of putting forth the effort to build.
For the next few weeks we are going to delve into this last section of The Sermon on the Mount to close out our Winter Bible Study. It is a pretty sweeping realignment of the way we tend to see things so stick with me and we will tackle it together.
Matthew 5:31-6:4, “It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your `Yes’ be `Yes,’ and your`No,’ `No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
“You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
“Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Looking closely at this passage you can see that it provides guidance for the way we need to deal with the relationships of life. It starts with the most significant one and goes from there. We will spend some time looking at each of them.
A few weeks ago we talked about marriage and the significance of that relationship in God’s eyes. In society today the marriage relationship has become one of convenience. The term irreconcilable differences has grown to mean we just do not want to try. Jesus said there is only one reason to get divorced; marital unfaithfulness, anything else is adultery. Jesus says here the only reason to dissolve is when the trust is gone, when one or both violate the trust that marriage is built on, unfaithfulness, abuse of each other either physically or emotionally.
That sets the bar pretty high, how can we deal with such a high standard? First remember that God’s standard is the highest and the best. If we can live our lives by God’s standard then we will live the best life possible. Knowing that we shouldn’t enter into the marriage relationship lightly, we should view it like God does, until death do we part.
We get into the area of permission and forgiveness here. Have we asked God what he thought we should do as it relates to marriage? Did we take the time to ask for His direction and guidance before we entered into the most significant relationship we could have? Sometimes we are guilty of making choices we think are good but in the end maybe they are not the best.
Life being what it is we all make choices that do not please God, choices that God would rather we didn’t make. With those choices come the consequences of living our lives differently than God would want for us. We cannot go back, do it over and remove the consequences. We can move forward from here and seek God’s direction in the future. The process of getting things back in line is available from God in the form of forgiveness.
We first have to admit our mistakes and take responsibility for them, they were our choices not someone else’s. We then have to go before God’s throne and seek His forgiveness. Once requested we are forgiven and now we can move forward in our lives recommitted to following God’s direction. We can because of the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins on the cross. We have hope even when we make the wrong choice. That hope is Jesus Christ.
As we start down this road of getting the relationships in our life in line with God I think a good place to start is at the feet of God’s throne. Take some time this week and sit there. Open your heart and ask his forgiveness. Receive it and start life anew, restored and useful to God.
Matthew 6: 7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.