First, I’d just like to mention how cool it is that today’s gospel reading is a passage we’ve been studying in my Intro to New Testament class (a random elective credit I needed that turned into one of my favorites). God was definitely trying to get my attention this week with this passage… I got it, here I am!
Second, I’d also like to note that this reading (Matthew 5: 17:37) is pretty long and is wonderful all by itself, so if you’d like to read it or reference it, here it is.
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus talks about his duty to come to earth, to renew the commandments, and to fulfill the scriptures. He says that “whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”.
He knew the commandments would be difficult to follow. He knew he was asking a lot of his people by telling them to follow him and these laws.
It’s not supposed to be easy. He knows that.
This was something I’ve needed to hear, and I’m glad I finally listened (even if I didn’t until the third time I heard it…). Jesus knows that the right choice isn’t easy, and that the easy choice isn’t right. He also wants his people to know that the right choice is worth it in the end, and victory in the struggle to choose what’s right will only amplify your righteousness.
Victory over sin, victory over death, and victory over the-easy-way-out.
That’s what Jesus promises. (And it sounds pretty good, right?)
The next part that really struck me was verses 29-30. This part gets a little morbid, (but it sure does get you to listen).
29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Basically, it is better to rid yourself of what leads you to sin, that to doom yourself to sin because of it. It’s better to set yourself up for success, rather than allowing yourself to continue along the same pathways that lead you to failure.
He knows we are weak, but he calls us to be strong.
He wants us to have strength to make the hard decision, the one that prevents us from sin, early on, because it will lead us to greater salvation, happiness, and grace in the end, rather than making the easy choice, and cashing in on temporary pleasure.
He knows the right choice hurts, but he promises that it won’t be made fruitlessly (1 John 2:25).
He knows you’re hurting. He knows you’re trying. He knows you are called for so much more.
He knew exactly what I needed to hear this week, and he knew what it would take to make me listen.
I hope you listen up for what God is trying (and trying and trying) to tell you this week!