You Still Have More to Give: Turning the Other Cheek, Giving Up Your Coat, & Going the Extra Mile

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-one through forty-eight of this New Testament book. YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID BY THEM OF OLD TIME…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID BY THEM OF OLD TIME…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! IT HATH BEEN SAID…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! AGAIN, YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT HATH BEEN SAID…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT HATH BEEN SAID…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! YE HAVE HEARD THAT IT HATH BEEN SAID…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU! THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE HEARD, BUT THIS IS WHAT I’M SAYING! THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TAUGHT, BUT THIS IS WHAT I’M TEACHING! THIS WAS THE OLD STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT I HAVE COME TO BRING A NEW STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS! THIS IS WHAT RIGHTEOUSNESS USED TO LOOK LIKE! THIS IS WHAT RIGHTEOUSNESS LOOKS LIKE NOW! THIS WAS THE STANDARD AND MEASURE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN TIMES PAST, BUT THIS IS NOT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS REQUIRED IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! THIS WAS THE STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS YOUR FATHERS WERE HELD TO AND WHICH YOU WERE TAUGHT, HOWEVER, THERE IS A NEW STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS PART OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW VERSUS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM! THERE WAS A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT WAS PRESCRIBED WITHIN AND ACCORDING TO THE LAW AND THERE IS A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS REQUIRED WITHIN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! I HAVE NOT COME TO ABOLISH OR DESTROY THE LAW, BUT I HAVE COME TO FULFILL IT! “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, THAT EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” (Matthew 5:17-20).

            When you seek to read the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount you must needs allow yourself to be captured and captivated with the words presented before us in verses seventeen through twenty. It is with these words Jesus sets the context for what He would speak and teach thereafter, as He would speak unto those who sought to walk with and follow Him concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would indeed set forth to compare and contrast that which His hearers and audience had heard and that which they had been taught with that which He was speaking unto them, however, before He would speak these words He sought to demonstrate unto them that the words which He was speaking sought to take the righteousness that was according to the Law and indeed turn it on its head. The words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount sought to reveal unto His hearers and audience that He did not come to abolish, nor to destroy the Law or the prophets, but rather to fulfil them. The underlying question we must needs ask ourselves is how Jesus intended on fulfilling both the Law and the prophets—particularly and especially when you consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture. There would be those who would like to think that Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount somehow contradicted that which was written and spoken in the Law and the prophets, however, it is absolutely necessary that the words which Jesus spoke took the righteousness of the Law and in all reality brought it straight to the heart of that man or woman who sought to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that at the very heart and center of the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is this passionate plea to realize and recognize that righteousness if more than simply external demonstrations and deeds, but righteousness begins in and with the heart.

            Before I delve any further into this particular writing I would like to present the question to you who might be reading these words whether or not you truly realize and understand that righteousness—true righteousness which is pleasing in the sight of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ—is not merely in external observance and outward demonstration, but rather is found within the heart of that man or woman who wishes to walk with and follow Him. In all reality, we must needs realize and understand that if you wanted to not only walk with and follow Jesus but also enter into the kingdom which He preached and taught about, there was a great need within your heart to be completely and radically changed and transformed. In all reality we might very well say that the Sermon on the Mount was in essence a reprogramming of the way Jesus’ hearers and audience would have thought—particularly and especially as it pertained to righteousness in the sight of God and obedience to the Law of Moses. When Jesus stepped on to the scene—not only were there the requirements which were taught within the Law of Moses and that which was spoken by the prophets, but there were also the traditions of the elders, the scribes and the Pharisees which were permitted to co-exist with the Law and the prophets. The world which Jesus stepped into was one that was characterized by this outward obedience to that which was commanded and spoken in the Law of Moses and the prophets, as well as the rules and the traditions which the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, and the teachers of the law had put in place among men. In order for us to truly understand that which is found within the Sermon on the Mount—especially that which is found within the fifth chapter—we must needs realize and recognize that the world Jesus entered and stepped into was one that was characterized by a righteousness that was more about external demonstration and manifestation rather than a true transformation of the heart. RIGHTEOUSNES: EXTERNAL DEMONSTRATION OR INWARD TRANSFORMATION! Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to this particular truth, for when we think and speak about the righteousness of the kingdom versus the righteousness which is according to the Law we must needs understand that there is a righteousness that is centered upon external demonstration and has absolutely nothing to do with an inward transformation.

            WHAT IS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS WORTH? WHAT IS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS WORTH IN THE SIGHT OF GOD? The more I think about and consider the words which are found within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount the more I am brought face to face with the fact that when Jesus spoke of that which His audience had heard as set against and compared to that which He was now speaking unto them—what He was in all reality doing among them in their midst was transitioning them from a righteousness that was external in demonstration to a righteousness that was internal in transformation. In all reality, I would dare say that this was precisely what Jesus was referencing and speaking when He emphatically and boldly declared that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is important to note that this was directly on the heels of Jesus declaring that He did not come to abolish or to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. We must pay close and careful attention to this, for when Jesus spoke of fulfilling the Law and the prophets He was seeking to show and demonstrate that this fulfillment of that which the Law and the prophets had spoken was not merely in external demonstration and manifestation, but rather in an inward transformation of the heart. What’s more, is that we must needs recognize and understand that righteousness—just like obedience and holiness—is found within the heart of a man rather than in outward demonstration and external observance.

            As I seek to truly understand the words which are found within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount I am directly confronted with the awesome and powerful reality that the righteousness of the kingdom—the righteousness which Jesus came preaching and proclaiming—was not a matter of that which is manifested in outward and external demonstration, but rather is one that is involved in an inward transformation. Oh dear reader we must recognize and understand that there is a righteousness that merely observes that which has been spoken, and a righteousness that actually transforms. The more I read and consider the words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount the more I am brought face to face with the fact that what He was doing was more than simply showing how He came to fulfil the Law and the prophets, but He was actually demonstrating unto His audience and those who were listening to Him speak how He desired to completely and totally transform—not only the righteousness which they believed themselves to have possessed, but also change and transform their hearts. If—according to Jesus—murder begins within the heart, and adultery begins within the heart, then we must logically conclude that righteousness also begins within and with the heart. It would be later on within this New Testament gospel where Jesus would express the intrinsic and direct connection between the words which proceed forth from our mouths and our hearts when He would declare that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but rather that which proceeds out of the mouth. Moreover, Jesus would go on to boldly and unreservedly declare that it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Thus, that which Jesus did was directly link the words which proceed from our mouths with that which is in our hearts, for Jesus would declare that if you want to truly understand the nature and condition of your heart you need only listen to the words which proceed forth out of your mouth. It was Jesus who brought His hearers and His audience to the place where they recognized and understood that at the very center of their righteousness, at the very center of their obedience, and at the very center of their holiness was the heart that was found within them.

            The words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount paint a powerful picture that He came not to abolish or destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill both the Law and the prophets. It’s important for us to recognize and understand that the way Jesus came to fulfil the Law and the prophets was not through continued external demonstration and manifestation, but rather through an inward transformation of the heart. One could not truly say they are fulfilling both the Law and the prophets if they are merely committing themselves to an external demonstration and manifestation of obedience and righteousness without anything ever touching their heart. Jesus declared that until heaven and earth passed away there would not be one jot or one tittle that would pass from the Law, for all would be fulfilled. Moreover, Jesus would then go on to boldly and unreservedly declare that whoever breaks one of the least of the commandments and would teach men so would be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Conversely, however, whoever would not only do, but also teach the commandments which were found in the Law would be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Thus Jesus would directly link obedience to the commandments found in the Law to teaching others concerning those commandments. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for with them Jesus was emphatically and boldly declaring that the standard of righteousness the people were used to which might very well have appeased and satisfied the Pharisees, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the teachers of the Law, the Sadducees, and the like would not please the living and eternal God. Despite the fact that the religious system of that day might very well consider you to be righteous according to the standards and traditions they have adhered to, it is entirely and altogether possible to not please the LORD of hosts with that righteousness.

            WOULD YOU DARE SEEK TO PLEASE THE GOD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WITH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF MEN? WOULD YOU DARE THINK THAT YOU CAN SOMEHOW PLEASE THE LORD WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH HAS BEEN TAUGHT BY THE STATUES, THE TRADITIONS, THE RULES, AND THE COMMANDS OF MEN? Oh I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for with these words Jesus sought to demonstrate to His hearers and audience that the righteousness which the scribes and the Pharisees taught—and not only that which they taught, but also that which they themselves practiced—was not sufficient for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and Jesus would then go on to declare that unless the righteousness of His disciples and followers exceeded that of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Pause for a moment and think about just how significant the words which Jesus spoke unto those who walked with and followed Him truly was, for essentially that which He was declaring was that the righteousness of their teachers was not sufficient enough to get them into the kingdom of heaven. In fact, later on Jesus would indict the Pharisees and the scribes—the teachers of the Law during those days—not only for not entering into the kingdom of heaven, but also preventing others from entering in themselves. What’s more, is Jesus would go on to declare that publicans, prostitutes and sinners would enter into the kingdom of heaven before they themselves would. Oh please don’t miss the words which are found here, for at the very outset of the public ministry of Jesus, and at the very outset of His teaching He would boldly declare unto those who walked with and followed Him that their righteousness needed to exceed the righteousness of those who had previously taught them. Stop for a moment and think about how absolutely and utterly absurd this must have sounded like to those who heard Jesus speak these words, for that which Jesus was speaking was suggesting that they themselves could possess a righteousness that was entirely and altogether different from the righteousness which was found within and among their teachers.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is necessary for us to pay close attention to Jesus’ words concerning the righteousness of those who walked with and followed Him exceeding that of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees—particularly and especially when Jesus would later go on to instruct His followers to do as they were commanded and instructed by the scribes and the Pharisees, but do not do as they themselves did. Jesus taught obedience, respect and submission to His followers to that which was spoken and instructed by the scribes and Pharisees, however, when it came to observing that which they themselves did, His followers were instructed to not do what they did. Oh it is truly something remarkable and astonishing to think and consider that the righteousness of those who walked with and followed Jesus could indeed and could in fact exceed the righteousness of those who taught the Law. The words which Jesus expressed in the Sermon on the Mount not only demanded and required of those who walked with Him to possess a righteousness that exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, but also suggested that their righteousness could indeed and could in fact exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. This is truly something worth thinking about—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that within Judaea, within Galilee, within Jerusalem, and within the surrounding region of that day there were religious leaders and teachers who had a righteousness of the law which they believed was pleasing in the sight of the living God, and yet when Jesus emerged on to the scene He began declaring unto His followers that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and the Pharisees they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            The more you read and the more you consider the words which are found within this particular portion of Scripture the more you will encounter on numerous times Jesus referencing that which His disciples and followers heard and that which they had undoubtedly been taught, but how Jesus was not saying and speaking unto them something entirely different. If there is one thing we must needs realize and recognize concerning the words which were spoken by Jesus is that He was in no way contradicting that which the Law and the prophets commanded and instructed, nor was He in any way contradicting that which the teachers of the Law had commanded and were commanding. That which Jesus was indeed and was in fact doing was taking that righteousness which was taught according to the Law and the prophets, and taking that righteousness which at one point was considered of great worth and value in the sight of God and exposing the foundation of it. EXPOSING THE FOUNDATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS! REVEALING THE FOUNDATION OF TRUE RIGHEOUSNESS! If we are being truly honest with ourselves as we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we must needs acknowledge the awesome and powerful truth that what Jesus did was first reveal the outward demonstration and manifestation of righteousness among His disciples and followers—such as not committing adultery and not murdering—and then peeling back all the layers surrounding such commands to expose and reveal the root and foundation of such actions within the lives of men and women. If you truly take the time to read the words which Jesus spoke within this passage of Scripture you will find that what He essentially did was take the righteousness which was taught according to the Law and according to the prophets, and He would uncover and expose the foundation of that righteousness—a foundation that was set within the human heart rather than in outward activity and action. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for if we want to truly understand the righteousness that pleases the living God we must recognize the root and foundation of that righteousness. Righteousness is more than just that which we see on the outward—a reality that was expressed during the days of Jesse and his sons which lived and dwelt in Bethlehem.

            If and as you read the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find that after the LORD had rejected Saul from being king and torn the kingdom away from him He sought out and sought after a man after His own heart. That search would eventually cause Him to raise up and send Samuel unto the town of Bethlehem and unto the house of Jesse, for it was there in the house of Jesse where the next king of Israel would be. The LORD would send Samuel with a ram’s horn filled with oil that he might anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, and Samuel would indeed obey the voice and command of the LORD. What we find when Samuel arrived at the house of Jesse and as Jesse passed his eldest son before Samuel was Samuel thinking within himself how this must indeed by that one whom the LORD would anoint as the next king of Israel. The LORD—being very much aware of the thoughts and reasonings within the heart of Samuel—would instruct him to not look on the outward appearance of a man, but rather on the inward character and integrity of a man. Moreover, the LORD would then go on to declare unto Samuel that He does not see as man sees, for He looks upon the heart. This reality of Samuel in the house of Jesse must needs be carefully considered and understood, for if we want to truly understand that which pleases the LORD we must needs look at that which is on the inside of a man rather than that which is expressed, displayed, manifested and demonstrated on the outward. If you want to truly see and observe a righteousness that is pleasing in the sight of the living God you must needs recognize and understand that the righteousness which pleases Him is not one that is based on external realities, but rather one that is based on the inward part of a man. We cannot afford to miss this reality, for it is entirely and altogether possible that we think the righteousness we are exercising is pleasing in the sight of the living God, and yet it is nothing more than an external manifestation of the flesh whilst having nothing to do with the heart.

            WHEN RIGHTEOUSNESS TOUCHES THE FLESH AND AVOIDS THE HEART! WHEN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS MORE CONCERNED WITH THE FLESH THAN IT IS THE HEART! Jesus declared that He did not come to abolish, nor to destroy the Law or the prophets, but to fulfil them. He would then go on to declare that until heaven and earth passed away there would not be one jot nor tittle that would pass from the law until all had been fulfilled. Moreover, Jesus would then go on to declare that those who broke one of the least of the commandments and taught others to do so would be considered least in the kingdom, while declaring that those who obeyed the commandments and taught them to others would be considered great in the kingdom of heaven. Before Jesus would begin comparing and contrasting that which His audience and listeners would have heard in the Law and the prophets, and from their teachers and scribes, He would declare unto them how their righteousness needed to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees among them. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to declare that unless their righteousness exceeded that righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. If we want to truly understand the words and language that is found in the remaining portion of the fifth chapter we must recognize and understand that it is essentially a tale and account of two different and two distinct manifestations of righteousness. When Jesus speaks to and refers to that which they heard it said He was speaking about an external righteousness which was according to the Law and the prophets, and that which quite honestly did not touch the heart that was present within them. When, therefore, Jesus spoke of righteousness exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees He was ultimately speaking to His disciples and followers concerning the true nature and foundation of righteousness, which is the heart within a man. We must needs recognize and understand this when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture, for if you want to understand what bringing yourself into alignment with the authority of the kingdom truly looks like, you must recognize that it begins in and with the heart.

            As Jesus spoke unto the people concerning that which they had heard it said—that which they had heard being taught unto them by their scribes, teachers and religious leaders—He was not dismissing nor discounting that which they had heard. Jesus in no way declared that His hearers and audience should not commit murder, nor that they should commit adultery. If and as you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will find that what Jesus sought to do was address the root and foundation of the matter of adultery and murder which was not centered upon the actions themselves, but rather that which was found within the heart. Jesus spoke unto His hearers and His audience concerning that which they had heard spoken and taught unto them, and yet that which He was speaking unto them would address something much greater and much deeper. The commands which were found within the Law of Moses—the commands not to steal, the commands not to murder, the commands not to covet, the command not to bear false witness, and the like—were those commands which merely provided instruction concerning that which men and women ought to abstain from while doing absolutely nothing with the condition of the heart that was within a man. We must needs recognize and understand this tremendous truth, for it is absolutely necessary for us to understand the words which Jesus spoke unto His hearers. Jesus did indeed come to fulfill the Law and the prophets, however, when speaking concerning adultery and murder Jesus sought to reveal unto man the root and underlying cause surrounding murder and adultery.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount and I can’t help but think about the Law of Moses, and how more often than not the Law of Moses gave commands, statutes, decrees and instruction, and yet it would not address the true underlying condition of the heart. Even when you look at the Ten Commandments you will find a series of commandments which the New Testament summarized into two main and all encompassing commandments—namely, loving the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Moreover, these commandments which were spoken by Moses the servant of the LORD unto the children of Israel and which were passed down through the generations merely gave commands and sets of instruction to the children of Israel without at all addressing the heart. As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will be brought face to face with two of the commands spoken by Moses unto the children of Israel, and yet nowhere in the Ten Commandments will you find anything that speaks to the true nature and condition of the heart. Moses gave the command not to murder, but Jesus would take that command even further and speak of anger and hatred within one’s heart—that which would ultimately lead someone to murder. Moses would speak against committing adultery, and yet Jesus would take this command even further and would speak of lust and covetousness that was present within the heart of a man and/or a woman. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly important this truly is, for if you want to truly understand the Ten Commandments—and not only the Ten Commandments, but the whole Law of Moses—you must needs recognize and understand that when Jesus came to full the Law He came to fulfill it not by external demonstration and manifestation, but rather by a transformation of the heart. In all reality, that which Jesus was emphatically declaring unto His hearers and His audience was that the single greatest fulfillment of the Law of Moses was not necessarily in external demonstration and manifestation but rather in transformation of the heart.

            YOU FULFILL THE LAW OF MOSES IN YOUR HEART BEFORE YOU FULFILL IT IN ACTION! YOU FILFILL THE LAW OF MOSES THROUGH TRANSFORMATION BEFORE DEMONSTRATION! WHICH IS OF GREATER WORTH AND VALUE IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN—TRANSFORMATION OR DEMONSTRATION? There would be those who would seek to argue that the Ten Commandments are in and of themselves enough to sustain righteousness in the sight of the living God, and yet Jesus declared that you could be guilty of transgressing those commandments within your heart. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that what Jesus was in fact speaking and declaring was that it is possible to not outwardly and externally violate the Ten Commandments, and yet inwardly within your heart you can break one or more of the commandments. Jesus would emphatically declare that it was possible to not break the commandments externally, and yet inwardly within your heart be guilty of one or more of the commandments. What’s more, is that even when speaking to the rich young ruler who had declared unto Jesus how he had kept all the commandments from his youth up Jesus still declared unto him that he was lacking one thing. Moreover, it would be James the brother of Jesus who would declare how that one who was guilty of breaking one of the commandments was indeed guilty of breaking all of the commandments. Oh how incredibly transformative it is to think about the fact that our obedience unto the Lord and our righteousness before Him in His sight is not measured by any outward demonstration or manifestation, but rather it is measured within, by and according to our heart. What’s more, is that we can appear on the outward to be adhering to and obeying the Law of Moses, and even be perceived as being righteous in the sight of the living God, and yet be guilty of violating such commands within our heart.

            Oh dear reader, would it shock and surprise you to hear and consider how it is possible to be a faithful doer of the Law of Moses externally and outwardly, and yet be guilty of transgressing that very same law inwardly within your heart and mind? If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider as I write these words it’s that it is possible to outwardly and externally adhere to and obey the commandments which were prescribed in the Law of Moses, and yet inwardly we can violate and transgress those commandments. What’s more, is that I would dare say what Jesus is speaking within these passages of Scripture—particularly and especially as it pertains to murder and adultery—is to deal with and address the root issue within your heart before ever allowing it to so lay hold of your heart that it is able to be manifested in the flesh. The more I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more I find myself encountering and coming face to face with the fact that what Jesus was in all reality doing with His hearers and His audience was inviting them to not only understand the root behind adultery and murder that lies within the heart, but also to deal with and address it before it is allowed to become full blown sin and transgression that is manifested within their lives. With this being said I can’t help but be reminded of the words which James the brother of Jesus wrote in the first chapter of the epistle he wrote unto the saints which were scattered. Consider if you will the following words which are written and found in the opening chapter of this epistle beginning with the thirteenth verse: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13-15). Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for with these words James invites us to deal with and address the temptation which is presented before us before we allow that temptation to draw us away in our own lust are enticed. If we are not careful and don’t address the temptation, the lust and the enticement within our heart it has the potential to be conceived and bring forth sin. It is that sin—when it is finished and complete within the life of an individual—that brings forth death.

We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this truth and reality, for it draws and calls us into the place where we understand and acknowledge that not only can we be guilty of committing that which the Law of Moses commands us against, but we must also deal with the root causes of those of those sins, transgressions and rebellions within our heart. We have great need to understand and recognize that what Jesus spoke unto His hearers and His audience in this passage of Scripture was a powerful dealing with and addressing the heart, and recognizing that true righteousness which is pleasing in the sight of the Lord our God is that righteousness which transcends outward and external demonstration and manifestation and touches the very heart of a man and woman who seeks to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. If and as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will brought face to face with certain and specific things Jesus the Christ mentioned and spoke of within His Sermon on the Mount that deal with and speak to what that righteousness which pleases God and inherits the kingdom of heaven is truly like. Jesus had just finished declaring unto His readers and audience that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven. What we find in the rest of the chapter are specific examples of what that righteousness which is according to the Law of Moses looks like and what that righteousness which pleases the living God and inherits the kingdom of heaven is like. In all reality, that which we find within this passage of Scripture is a truly wonderful and powerful picture of what that righteousness which inherits the kingdom of heaven is like as set against the righteousness which pleases men.

I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found in the second half of the fifth chapter we must understand the series of comparisons and contrasts Jesus made as being between that righteousness was pleased men and which was according to the Law of Moses and that righteousness which entered into and inherited the kingdom of heaven. Jesus made it perfectly clear that there was indeed a righteousness that inherited the kingdom of heaven, and how that righteousness was such that exceeded and surpassed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for what we find and read within the latter half of this chapter is indeed a wonderful and powerful picture of what that righteousness which inherits the kingdom of heaven actually looks like. In order to make this point abundantly and perfectly clear unto His disciples Jesus would begin by speaking unto them how they heard that it was said by those of old time that they ought not to kill, but Jesus went on to declare that those who were angry with their brother without a cause would be in danger of the judgment. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that those who would say to their brother, “Race” would be in danger of the council, and those who would say, “Thou fool” would be in danger of hell fire. Initially Jesus speaks of murder and then turns murder upon its head and drills down to speaking of anger within the heart of a man or woman—and not only anger within the heart, but also anger without a cause. Furthermore, within this passage you will find Jesus speaking of offense and bitterness that has somehow been committed against another, for immediately after speaking of anger within the heart He goes on to declare that if we bring our gift to the altar and at the altar remember that our brother has ought against us, we are to leave our gift before the altar and go our way that we might be reconciled to our brother. LEAVING YOUR GIFT AT THE ALTAR! LEAVING YOUR GIFT BEHIND AND DEPARTING! RETURNING TO YOUR GIFT AT THE ALTAR! It’s truly something unique to think about and consider that which Jesus would speak in this passage of Scripture, for what Jesus spoke unto His audience and hearers was that if they brought their gift to the altar and there at the altar remembered that their brother had ought against them, they were to not only leave the gift at the altar, but were to go and be reconciled to their brother.

With this being said we must needs understand and acknowledge when reading these words that while Jesus did indeed speak of anger within the heart of a man and that anger causing them to be in danger of the judgment, Jesus would also speak to and concerning reconciliation. When we read the words concerning the presentation of the gift at the altar, and even walking along the way with our adversary and accuser we must needs understand and realize that at the very heart of what Jesus was speaking and saying unto His hearers and audience was indeed and was in fact reconciliation. Pause for a moment and think about what it would look like if men and women among us within our church buildings went to the altar that they might offer something before the Lord, and one by one such individuals departed from the altar and either went to those in the church building to be reconciled to them, or departed from the church building to go and be reconciled to their brother. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding realities and truths that is found within this particular section is that not only does Jesus address the anger within our heart which we must deal with, but He also deals with the offense—perhaps even the bitterness, the anger, the malice, and the rage—that is found within the heart of another. What so shocks and surprises me about these words is that it almost appears that Jesus places the responsibility for anger within our heart and offense within the heart of another—especially offense with us—solely and squarely upon our own shoulders. I find myself being absolutely and completely in awe of the fact that it appears as though Jesus instructs His disciples and followers to deal with and address the anger within their heart and the offense within the heart of another.

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ANGER WITHIN YOUR HEART AND TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE OFFENSE WITHIN THE HEART OF ANOTHER! Oh dear reader it is actually quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for there is not a doubt in my mind that righteousness which inherits the kingdom of heaven is found within the heart and life of one who not only deals with and address the anger that might be lurking within their own heart, but also the offense that might exist within the heart of another. Within this passage—not only did Jesus deal with that which might cause one to murder another, but also that which might cause another to murder or rise up against those to whom Jesus was speaking. In other words—not only did Jesus speak concerning the condition of our own heart and the actions that might be produced as a result, but Jesus also spoke concerning the condition of the heart of another that we might be reconciled unto and with them. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—show me one who is willing to deal with the anger that is found within their heart as well as one who is willing to deal with and address the offense that is found within the heart of another and I will show you one whose righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. It takes an incredibly mature and strong individual to realize and recognize the offense and fault that is found within the heart of another individual toward them, and instead of allowing them to remain captive and bound to that offense they address it at the source and seek reconciliation together with their brother and/or sister. Oh how incredibly powerful it is to know someone has ought and offense with you, and you are able to go unto that brother or that sister—perhaps even that one who is not a part of the body of Christ—and not only be reconciled unto them, but also seek their forgiveness for anything you might have said or done to wrong them. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for this reality calls and draws us into the tremendous and powerful place where we realize and recognize that not only are we held accountable for our own heart and the attitudes and thoughts within our heart, but we are also called to help others deal with the attitudes and thoughts that are within their heart.

ARE YOU WILLING TO HELP YOUR BROTHER AND/OR YOUR SISTER DEAL WITH THE OFFENSE WITHIN THEIR HEART! ARE YOU WILLING TO HELP YOUR BROTHER AND/OR YOUR SISTER DEAL WITH THE ANGER WITHIN THEIR HEART! ARE YOU WILLING TO HELP YOUR BROTHER AND/OR YOUR SISTER DEAL WITH THE HURT AND THE PAIN THAT IS PRESENT WITHIN THEIR HEART! Oh how truly wonderful and powerful these words are when you take the time to think about and consider them, for these words call and draw our attention to the wonderful truth that while we are indeed called to deal with and address the anger that might very well be within our heart, so also are we called to seek and pursue reconciliation with those who have ought against us—perhaps even those who might be angry and offended with us. The words which are found within this passage are a powerful invitation calling and drawing us into that place where we are willing to deal with what lies hidden and buried within our heart, as well as being willing to help others deal with what lies hidden and buried within their heart—even if that means leaving our gift at the altar that we might go and be reconciled unto our brother. At the very heart of that which Jesus is speaking within this passage of Scripture is not only to deal with what lies within our heart before it becomes full blown sin and transgression, but also to seek and pursue reconciliation with our brother our sister who might have ought against us. Essentially what Jesus is speaking unto those whom He spoke unto within this sermon was not to wait and hope, nor to wait and expect that brother or sister who has ought against us to be reconciled to us, but rather to be reconciled unto them. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this and how incredibly important it is, for we as the saints and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are indeed and are in fact called to deal with that which is present within our heart concerning others, and to even help others deal with that which might very well be found within their hearts.

GIVE THE OTHER CHEEK! GIVE THE OTHER TUNIC! GIVE THE EXTRA MILE! DON’T HOLD BACK WHEN THERE’S MORE TO GIVE! GIVE UNTIL THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE! EVEN IN THE MIDST OF OFFENSES AND GRIEVANCES BEING CARRIED AGAINST YOU—GIVE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE! GIVE EVERTHING YOU HAVE IN THE NATURAL! GIVE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE IN THE SPIRITUAL! “BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU! DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU! PRAY FOR THOSE WHO SPITEFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU!” YOU STILL HAVE MORE TO GIVE! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO CHEEKS! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO EARS! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO EYES! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO HANDS! YOU WERE GIVEN TO ARMS! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO LEGS! YOU WERE GIVEN TWO FEET! [YOU HAVE ANOTHER CHEEK TO GIVE! YOU HAVE YOUR CLOAK TO OFFER! YOU HAVE ANOTHER MILE TO GO].

As I continue reading this passage of Scripture and writing concerning the truths which are contained therein I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the words which are found in the final two sections of the fifth chapter. In the first of these two sections Jesus spoke and declared unto His hearers and audience how they had heard it had been said “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but Jesus would speak and declare unto them that they resist not evil. What we must realize and understand Jesus as saying and speaking within this passage of Scripture is not necessarily not to resist evil as a force within the world, but rather not to resist evil which would be committed and performed against them. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which Jesus speaks are incredibly powerful. What’s more, is that with these words Jesus emphatically declares concerning His followers that they are those who are able to bear up under the tremendous weight, burden and pressure of wrongs being committed against them. When Jesus instructed His followers not to resist evil—that which He was ultimately speaking and declaring unto them was that they willingly and voluntarily commit themselves to enduring any offenses and any wrongdoings which were committed against them. Moreover, Jesus was speaking concerning His disciples and followers that they patiently endured in the midst of evil and atrocities which would be committed against them, and they were not to seek to defend themselves from, against and in the midst of that which is being committed against them. It was this very reality which is found within the sixth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. If and as you begin reading with and from the first verse of this chapter you will find the apostle Paul seeking to correct these saints and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning their “Christian” response to being wronged, to being offended, to evils being committed against them, and to experience those actions which would be committed against them. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we read the words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ we must also read and consider these words, for the words written by the apostle Paul actually show us what it looks like when those who profess to be disciples and followers of Christ refuse to bear up under evil committed against them. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints beginning to read with and from the first verse:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? IF then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. WHY DO YE NOT RATHER TAKE WRONG? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren” (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

WHY DO YE NOT RATHER TAKE WRONG? WHY DO YE NOT RATHER SUFFER YOURSELVES TO BE DEFRAUDED? We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within this passage, for the apostle Paul was writing unto the Corinthian congregation—those who professed to be saints of God and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—and rebuked them for seeking to defend themselves against wrongdoing and evil which was being committed against them. Moreover, the apostle Paul would emphatically and boldly come right out and ask them why they would not [willingly, deliberately and voluntarily] take wrong, and why they would not [willingly, deliberately, intentionally, voluntarily, and without any resistance] suffer themselves to be defrauded. Oh that we would pay close attention to the words which are found here, for when you consider the words which our Lord Jesus spoke you will find Him instructing His disciples and followers not to resist evil—not to resist the evil that was committed against them. In all reality, that which Jesus the Christ spoke unto His disciples and followers was a powerful statement concerning their willingness to allow themselves to experience wrongdoing and evils committing themselves to patiently enduring and not rising up against it. Perhaps one of the greatest temptations we as the saints of God face is the need—and perhaps even the want, and the right—to defend ourselves. There are countless men and women among us who feel as though when they are wronged by another they have the right to stand up for themselves and to defend themselves against the injustice, against the wrongdoing, against the evil that was committed against them. What makes this all the more intriguing is that Jesus never really defined the evil, and the apostle Paul never really defined the wrong that would be committed against the saints of God in Christ at Corinth. Oh we know that in the final verses of the fifth chapter the apostle Paul spoke of those who cursed us, those who hated us, and those who persecuted us, however, what we must recognize and understand is that if Jesus prepared His disciples—and not only His disciples, but also all those disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who would come thereafter—for anything, He prepared them to be hated of all men and all nations for His name’s sake, and to be persecuted. We must needs realize, recognize and understand that Jesus never prepared His disciples to be loved, to be welcomed, to be appreciated, to be respected, and to be embraced in this life. Instead, Jesus prepared His disciples to be hated of all men for His name’s sake, and to be persecuted by others—even those who felt they were doing a service unto God.

What makes all of this all the more intriguing and astonishing is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that in the midst of being hated of all nations for the sake of the name of Christ, and in the midst of being persecuted by others for the sake of the name of Christ Jesus not only prepared His disciples to love their enemies and love in the midst of it all, but Jesus also prepared His disciples to patiently endure and to bear up under and in the midst of such hatred, such animosity and such persecution. What’s more, is that you will find Jesus instructing His disciples and followers to bless those who cursed them, to pray for those who despitefully use and persecute them, and to do good to those which hated them. At the very heart of all of this is an underlying love for our enemies—those who would raise and lift themselves up against us in this life for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. It is actually quite incredible to read these words and to consider them, for the words which we find within this passage of Scripture is entirely and altogether prefaced by Jesus instructing His disciples and followers not to resist evil—not to resist the evil that would be done against them and upon them within this life. Jesus—when speaking unto His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount—would emphatically and boldly declare unto them that they were to willingly, deliberately and intentionally commit themselves to being wronged, to being offended, to having evil committed against them, to having evil spoken against them, and to be mistreated, and perhaps even oppressed. What I find all the more astonishing when reading these words is when we consider the generation in which we are living in and the times we are living in right now in this moment in history, and how there have been a lot of cries against the social injustices and atrocities which have been committed within this nation. Perhaps no other time in the history of this nation has the language of injustice and atrocities been spoken as it has during recent weeks, months and years, and we have witnessed more riots and protests in response to that which has been committed within the streets of our cities and our nation. What we must recognize and understand is that nowhere in Scripture did Jesus ever declare unto us that we were not to be grieved, saddened, and perhaps even brokenhearted over the wrongs, the injustices, and the grievances which were committed against, before, and/or all around us. That which Jesus did indeed speak unto His disciples and followers was that they resist not the evil which was committed against them—and I would even dare say all around them.

I have to admit that the more I read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome reality that Jesus—when speaking unto His disciples and followers concerning their not resisting evil—instructed them to turn their other cheek when their first cheek was smitten. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that if any man would sue them at the law and take away their coat, they were to let them have their cloke also. Not only this, but Jesus instructed His disciples and followers to go the second mile—to go the extra mile—with those who compelled to go with them a mile. Please do not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for at the very heart and center of the words which are found here is a powerful invitation given by the Lord Jesus Christ to give more of oneself, and to perhaps even go further than one might in the natural and physical flesh desire to go. In all reality, that which Jesus spoke within this passage of Scripture is that His disciples and followers were to be those who were willing to go further, and those who were willing to give more than they perhaps wanted and desired to. Pause and think about the fact that Jesus spoke of being smitten on the one cheek, and how instead of rising up against that one who smote you on the cheek, and instead of rising up to defend yourself you were to turn the other cheek—almost willingly and voluntarily—and offer them the other cheek. Pay close attention to the words which are found here, for there are very few of us who would be smitten on the one cheek and would instinctively think to turn our other cheek and offer it to that one who had already smitten us on the one cheek. It is human nature to either seek to nurse our cheek that had been smitten, or to actually rise up in defense or retaliation against that one, or those individuals who smote us on the cheek. That which Jesus spoke unto His disciples was that they had been given two cheeks, and if the one cheek was smitten they had a second cheek to offer that one who had smitten them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for at the heart of this is the declaration that we have more to give and more to offer. We would not think that we ought to willingly and voluntarily offer our other cheek to that one who had smitten it, and yet that isn’t at all what Jesus would speak unto His disciples and followers.

I have to admit that I am absolutely and utterly fascinated with and by the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for essentially that which Jesus was speaking unto His disciples was that although they were wronged, and although they had experienced wrongdoing and evil being committed against them they had more to offer in this life. Not only this, but I would also dare say and suggest that Jesus was in all reality declaring unto His disciples and followers that they had been given a second cheek with which to offer that one who had smitten them on the one cheek, how they had a cloke to give when their coat was taken, and how they had an extra mile to give and offer those who compelled them to go a mile with them. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that in this life we have more to offer and we have more to give than what we think—even and especially in the midst of suffering, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of affliction, in the midst of opposition, in the midst of wrongdoing, and in the midst of that evil which is committed against us. I can’t help but be reminded of a scene in the movie 300 when one of Leonidas’ three hundred soldiers lost his eye in the battle. Just prior to the final stand of Leonidas and his three hundred soldiers this king would speak unto this soldier concerning his eye, and would speak to him of his ability to fight and wage war with only one eye. The response of this soldier was one that declared unto Leonidas how the good Lord had seen fit to give him a spare or a second one. In all reality this soldier did not view having only one eye as a disadvantage, but rather how although one of his eyes was injured in the battle the Lord had given him a second one to use within this life. I can’t help but think about this reality, and especially when I consider those parts of our body which the Lord has given us in twos—such as two eyes, two ears, two arms, two hands, two legs and two feet. It’s quite interesting to think about that which we have been given us in twos and in pairs—particularly and especially when you consider the words found in this passage of Scripture—for essentially that which Jesus had spoken unto His disciples was that we have so much to offer, and so much to give in this life. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is presented before us in this passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is an absolutely wonderful and powerful statement and declaration that we have more in this life to give unto those who would rise up against us.

If there is one thing I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by when I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have so much more to give and so much more to offer in this life. I read the words found within this passage and I am brought face to face with the fact that even when we are wronged, even when we are grieved, even when we are offended, and even when evils are committed against us—not only are we not to resist that which is and has been committed against us, but we are to willingly and voluntarily give of ourselves in the midst of it. Jesus spoke of being smitten on the one cheek and how instead of seeking nurse and guard that cheek which had been injured they were to turn the other cheek and offer it unto that one who had smitten it. Perhaps the single greatest truth that is found within this passage of Scripture is not only the presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable in the sight of our God, but also a willingness to offer our bodies unto the Lord for His purposes and for His will. Oh dear reader—do you realize that you have been given your body in this life to give as an offering unto the Lord and not to hold on to? Do you realize and recognize that you have been called to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you not realize that your life is not your own, and that whoever would seek to save his life would lose it, and whoever deliberately and intentionally offered his life to lose it would gain it in the next? Do you not understand that in this life you have been called to patiently endure and bear up in the midst of wrongdoing and evil, and that you have more to give than what you presently think and believe yourself to have? Within this passage Jesus emphatically declared that those who were smitten on the one cheek were to turn and offer their other cheek, and that those who were sued at the law and had their coat taken away were to offer their cloak as well. Not only this, but those who were and those who had been compelled to go a mile were to go that second and that extra mile.

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary that I call and draw your attention to the truly awesome and powerful truth that in this life—not only have we been instructed and invited to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, but we have also been given so much to give unto the Lord, and so much to give for His glory and His honor. Tell me dear reader—would you offer your other cheek when you have already been smitten on the one? Would you offer your other ear if you just had your one ear smitten—even as the servant of the high priest had his ear smitten by Simon Peter in the garden of Gethsemane? Would you offer your other eye if you had lost your first eye unto those who wronged and offended you? Would you offer your other arm after having already lost your first arm to those who rose up against you in this life? I fully realize that this might in all reality sound somewhat morbid, however, at the very heart and center of this is the underlying statement that you have been given so much in this life to offer unto the Lord—and not only to offer unto the Lord your God, but also to offer as a living sacrifice. We are not to be those who resist evil and who seek to defend ourselves against evil and wrongdoing in this life, but we are to be those who deliberately and intentionally offer everything we have—particularly and especially concerning those who would rise up against us in persecution, and those who would rise up against us for the sake of the name of Christ. It’s interesting that in verses thirty-eight through forty-two Jesus speaks to His disciples about that which they had to give in the midst of wrongdoing, while in the final verses of this chapter Jesus speaks of loving our enemies, blessing those which cursed us, doing good to those which hate us, and praying for those who persecute and despitefully use us. OH dear reader, if there is one thing I would emphatically declare unto you when reading these words it’s that you have been given so much in this life—and as a result of having been given so much you have so much to offer. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to realize and understand that we have so much to offer and so much to give in this life, and even when what we have has been taken, we still have more to offer unto the Lord our God and to the Christ as an offering before and unto Him. Oh that we would be a people who would realize what we have to offer as a sacrifice and gift unto the Lord our God, and that we would be those who are ready, willing and able to give unto those who have wronged us and committed great evil against in this life, knowing that we have been called to be those who deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

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