October 5th, 2006
Conventional wisdom says that it’s better to be rich than poor; it’s better to be well fed than hungry; it’s better to be powerful than powerless; it’s better to be assertive than unselfish. But conventional wisdom is based on the assumption that life is all about doing the best for yourself. What if Jesus is right and the true way to live up to your full potential is actually through serving others and putting their interests ahead of yours? In this upside-down value system, you acquire power only by being humble; you become well-fed only through hungering and thirsting for righteousness; and you find joy even when people persecute you for helping others.
Matthew’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 5
5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples came to him. 5:2 He taught them as follows:
5:3 “Blessed are people who are poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 5:4 Blessed are people who mourn, because they will be comforted. 5:5 Blessed are humble people, because they will inherit the earth. 5:6 Blessed are people who hunger and thirst after righteousness, because they will be filled. 5:7 Blessed are merciful people, because they will receive mercy. 5:8 Blessed are people who are pure in heart, because they will see God. 5:9 Blessed are peacemakers, because they will be called children of God. 5:10 Blessed are people who are persecuted because of their righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and tell lies about you because of me. 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because you will have a great reward in heaven. They persecuted the prophets who were before you in the same way.
5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavour, what will make it salty again? It is good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled on. 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. 5:15 You don’t light a lamp in order to hide it under a bucket. You put it on a stand and it lights up everyone in the house. 5:16 Let your light shine in public, so that people can see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
5:17 “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfil. 5:18 I guarantee that until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter or one pen stroke will in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished. 5:19 Whoever disobeys even the least of these commands and encourages others to disobey will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever obeys them and encourages others to do likewise will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 5:20 I tell you, unless you are more righteous than the Pharisees and religious lawyers, there is no way you will get into the kingdom of heaven.
5:21 “You have heard that it was said to people in ancient times, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders will be subject to judgment.’ 5:22 But I tell you, anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to the judgment, and anyone who insults a brother or sister will be subject to the council, and anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
5:23 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has anything against you, 5:24 leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come back to offer your gift. 5:25 Compromise quickly with your adversary on the way to the court, because the prosecutor might hand you over to the judge, who might arrange for the officer to throw you into jail. 5:26 I guarantee that you won’t get out of there until you have paid every last cent.
5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ 5:28 but I tell you that everyone who stares at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away. It is better for you for one body part to die, rather than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 5:30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, hack it off, and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one body part, than for your whole body to disappear into hell.
5:31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate,’ 5:32 but I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for unfaithfulness, makes her an adulteress, and anyone who marries a divorcee commits adultery.
5:33 “Again you have heard that it was said to them in ancient times, ‘Do not swear false oaths, and carry out the promises you have made to the Lord,’ 5:34 but I tell you, don’t swear at all, whether by heaven, which is the throne of God, 5:35 or by the earth, which is the footstool for his feet, or by Jerusalem, which is the city of the great King, 5:36 or even by your own head, because you can’t make one hair white or black. 5:37 Instead, let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’. Anything more than this is evil.
5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 5:39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evil person. If anyone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other also. 5:40 If someone sues you for your shirt, hand over your coat also. 5:41 If someone forces you to walk one mile, walk two miles. 5:42 Give to anyone who asks you, and don’t turn away anyone who wants a loan from you.
5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour, and hate your enemy.’ 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies, bless people who curse you, do good to people who hate you, and pray for people who mistreat you and persecute you, 5:45 so that you can be children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes his sun rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. 5:46 If you only love people who love you, what reward do you deserve? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 5:47 If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t all people do that? 5:48 You need to be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Entry Filed under: Generosity