Monday, February 12, 2024

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Devotion

Monday, February 12, 2024

 It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.  But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one. Matthew 5:17-20 CSB

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Devotion

In this passage of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses the issue of devotion. Once again, He points out the difference between what the Pharisees had taught, and what Jesus says. The same phrases – “You have heard it said,” and “But I tell you…” remind us that the Pharisees were the religious elite who focused on works and following all the laws, but Jesus came to fulfill the law. He is teaching them to look deeper into the real meaning of devotion. To the Pharisees, it was about how things were done – rituals and procedures. But Jesus looks at our hearts. Unless there is transformation in our hearts no amount of works will matter.  

Here Jesus uses the examples of divorce and oaths to explain the level of devotion a Christ follower should exhibit in their daily lives. True devotion starts in the heart. Pastor Jim told us yesterday What we pursue we will become. What we pursue we are devoted to, whether we realize it or not. There is nothing wrong with pursuing goals and dreams, but if they are more important to us than Jesus, or if we chase them more that we chase after Him, then they become idols.     

Devotion in Relationships – Jesus begins by stating what the Pharisees taught about divorce. They called divorce a command, but Jesus called it a provision for the hardness of hearts. He took divorce very seriously, promoting a high view of marriage to illustrate the type of devotion we should demonstrate in the kingdom of God as Christ followers. God’s design for marriage is more than a promise or contract. Marriage is a covenant, and covenants are unbreakable before the Lord. This is the ideal for marriage, although we are humans living in a broken world. Thankfully, we have a heavenly Father who is all about redemption and reconciliation. 

Devotion in Words – Vow or Oaths - An oath is a declaration or statement with an appeal to God or some other sacred object. (I swear to God) The Pharisees were more concerned about the formula for taking the vow than the devotion of keeping the vow. Again, they were far more concerned with how things looked on the outside than what was really going on in a person’s heart.

 As Jesus followers we should take our words seriously and not agree to do something we have no intention of doing. In everything we do - and don't do - we represent the kingdom. When we say something, or agree to something, it should mean something. Swearing or making oaths that we will keep our word weakens the reputation of our character. A person of character, a Jesus Follower keeps their word. For better or worse, we will be known by our record of keeping our commitments or not. And for better or for worse, we reflect the kingdom of God by how we do or do not follow through. 

As followers of Christ, we want our words to be enough so we should not need an oath. If people know us by our actions of keeping our word, it won't be necessary.  

“The truly good man will never need to take an oath; the truth of his sayings and the reality of his promises need no such guarantee. But the fact that oaths are still sometimes necessary is the proof that men are not good men and that this is not a good world.” (Barclay)

What does it mean for a Christ-follower to be completely devoted to Jesus and His Kingdom? 

Who or what are you devoting your life to? What are you giving your life to? We all give our life to something or someone. A relationship, a vocation, a cause, an idea, or a vice We will all dedicate our lives to the pursuit of something (a person or thing) that will promise us worth, acceptance, identity, purpose, joy, and love. We mistakenly believe that we can find these other places than besides Jesus. We chase things or people we believe will give us what we want, and they deceive us into thinking they can. Sometimes we even lose good things in our lives because we are in pursuit of something other than Jesus. If we are chasing anything other than Christ, we will leave this life unfulfilled. 

As we walk the Jesus Way, we become aligned with Him, and are transformed by Him. Our lives begin to look more and more like Him, in every area. As Christ followers, if we are completely devoted to Him, it will be seen in our relationships and other interactions with people, as well as in our words. Living the Jesus Way means that we are completely devoted to representing Him in every way, reflecting Him and His love and pointing others to Him. Only when we surrender our lives and follow Him, giving up all else, will we find true joy at the end of our devotion. 

  • What are you chasing? What or who are you devoting your life to – your time, your money, your attention? Where is it all going?
  •  What needs to be cut out of your life because it is pulling your devotion away from Jesus? 
  • The next time you agree to do something or give your word, be sure that you can follow through before you agree to it, and then do it. Be sure that your "yes" can be a "yes."

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