Monday, January 29, 2024

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of the Heart

Monday, January 29, 2024

You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.  Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:21-30

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of the Heart

Jesus has been with His disciples and multitudes of people delivering the Sermon on the Mount. He continues now with a deeper understanding of the law. Up until now the people had not studied the Law of Moses for themselves. All they had was the teaching on the law from the scribes and Pharisees, who taught them that outward appearance and actions were more important than their heart. Jesus teaches that outward conformity without inward change is not a true change. He taught them that what is on the inside is just as important as outward actions. The very expression of who we are can be discovered in our actions, and as believers, our actions should always reflect what we believe and point others to Him. 

In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about two major sins, murder, and adultery. He begins by saying “You have heard it said…” speaking to the teachings of the law and of the scribes and pharisees. He was not disqualifying what the law said when He went on to say “But I tell you…” Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, and He is about to take them deeper into the true meaning of the law. They have had a surface understanding to the law that was only applied to the surface of their lives. 

The Scribes and Pharisees believed that committing the act of murder was a sin, but the anger inside leading to that act, and insulting others was okay. Jesus brought a deeper understanding that what is in our hearts is just as important as our outward actions. Sometimes we act impulsively in sin but most of our wrong actions begin with a wrong thought that leads to a wrong desire. When we have wrong thoughts and wrong desires it is much more likely that they will be fleshed out in actions. 

Anger itself is not a sin, it is an emotion. Left unchecked it can lead to sin – with our words as we tear down instead of buildup, or in our actions. If we act out in anger by yelling, insulting, or gossiping – we will be held accountable for these actions. With adultery, it is the same. Jesus said if we even look lustfully at a man or a woman who is not our spouse we will be held accountable. This same principle may be applied to anything we lust after or covet. 

As believers it is in our heart that true change takes place that then informs our outward behavior. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we take care of our heart. We must weed out the emotions and feelings that are not right and may lead us to sin. We can pray for every thought to be taken captive and focus on Him, abide in Him. 

We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

What does a heart committed to The Jesus Way look like and how is it formed? 

Living The Jesus Way requires us to react differently than others. Our actions should line up with our beliefs. When we feel anger, we should react differently than someone who is not living The Jesus Way, because our heart has been transformed by Jesus Christ. We are reflection of Him in everything – including how we react to people who make us angry or hurt us. 

Jesus did not command us to like people, He commanded us to love them. Our heart and our obedience should not be contingent on other people’s behavior, but on our own desire to obey our Heavenly Father. As believers we should always defer to love no matter what the other person does. A heart committed to living The Jesus Way looks like loving others when they are unlovable and have offended us. It looks like surrendering our anger to Him and choosing not to insult or tear down others with our speech. It looks like taking our difficult and wrong thoughts captive to obedience in Him. 

How is a heart committed to The Jesus Way formed? By surrendering to Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict, mold, and shape us as we live out our adoption in Him. How can we make sure we keep the condition of our heart in such a way that we react in The Jesus Way? Abide in Him. Stay focused on Him. Our heart will not be formed one time as a believer and then we are good until we get to eternity. Our transformation is an ongoing constant experience. We surrender to Him every time we are hurt or have been offended and are angry. When our words or actions do not reflect our relationship with Him we need to run to Him and surrender again and again.  It is our relationship with Him that allows us to be continually transformed into the likeness of Him, so that all our words and actions flow from a heart that seeks to glorify Him in all things.

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