Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 5, 2017
By Tripp Prince
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago. Matthew 5:21
“You have heard that it was said.” So begins one of the most significant reflections on the Old Testament that we find in the New Testament. Jesus uses this phrase to engage the teaching of the Hebrew Bible and applies it to the lives of his early disciples. The six examples given in Matthew 5 are commonly called “antitheses” and are the source of a common belief that Jesus “does away” with the old teaching of Judaism, replacing law with grace. “Jesus did away with all those stuffy rules and regulations,” so the argument goes. And yet, is that really what’s going on here?
Rather than doing away with the law, in fulfilling the law I believe that Jesus is also extending the application of the law in new and radical ways, defining the nature of the church as a truly alternative form of society. Justice and goodness in the kingdom of God is not simply observing the minimum standard of the law but is instead meant to be the full embodiment of God’s peace and self-giving love. And this embodiment isn’t just personal obedience to the law but is a vision of communal flourishing, living for the good of your neighbor and community.
Our growth into the likeness of Christ is never just for our own personal joy or peace, important as that may be.
Jesus wants us to be free from anger not just for our own sake but for us to be able to live as citizens of a kingdom defined by reconciliation and love for others (5:21-26). He wants us to resist evil with non-violence so that we can model to the world an entirely new way of being, a world in which violence gives way to sacrificial love (5:38-42). And in troubled times like ours when every day you and I seem to be forced to take sides, choosing whom we will love and whom we will hate, Jesus calls his people to embody the perfect love of heaven, seeing everyone we meet as beloved children of God, worthy of respect, affection, and dignity (5:43-48).
What does it look like to embody the values of this new kingdom in your own life? How can you strive for the advance and spread of the kingdom in the various spheres of influence you have been given? Seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance and then be bold to step forward in faith, trusting that the upside down nature of God’s kingdom is the very way in which he is bringing hope to a hopeless world!
PrayerFather, teach us afresh what it means to live as citizens of heaven and help us to embody the values of heaven here on earth in the present realities of our lives.
ApplicationRead Matthew 5:17-48 and ask the Lord to show you how you can better align your life with the values of heaven.
Related ReadingRomans 14:17; Philippians 1:6; 1 Timothy 6:12-16
Post/Tweet todayOur growth into the likeness of Christ is never just for our own personal joy or peace. #WisdomHunters #Scripture
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