Read: Matthew 5:17-48
If I only had a few verses of the Bible to read every day, this section would be among my top choices because it is so practical. When I read this section of scripture I often personalize the tender words of Jesus saying something like, “I want you to grow up spiritually so let me give you some ideas on how.”
As a child, I didn’t always appreciate my parents telling me to “grow up.” But, now that I’m a little older (and hopefully) a little wiser, I think I understand why they wanted me to do so. They wanted me to live out what they were confident I already knew. In these verses, Jesus gives us very practical examples of doing what we already know. He shows us what it means to live a God-first life…a different life (remember the salt and light from yesterday?).
Jesus uses the religious leaders (Pharisees) as bad examples. Jesus saw their religion as a ritual and not a living relationship. The Pharisees were more concerned about looking religious than they were concerned about their heart. Jesus wants us to know that holiness starts with the heart being changed and then the changed heart impacts our actions to others.
You see, starting with the action is too similar to acting…people who act right might impress humans but God isn’t impressed. God is concerned with our hearts. You might even re-read this section and look for the heart-talk. Jesus uses issues such as murder and adultery as examples of heart-talk. Jesus says, “you’re concerned about murder (action) and I’m concerned about your anger (heart). You’re concerned about adultery (action) and I’m concerned about your lust (heart).
You’ll see more of this type of teaching throughout your daily walk with Christ. If you’re concerned about keeping up with this reading schedule (action) remember, God is more concerned with what you learn and apply (heart) than if you finish.