Scripture: Matthew 5:27-37
Key verses: (27-28) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Reflection: This passage is from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s story of Jesus teaching the crowd from his seat on a mountain. Repeatedly in the sermon Jesus says , “You have heard that it was said … But I say to you…” Jesus lifts up a commandment or a law that the people already knew. Then he expands it. He deepens it. You might say he goes from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law.
For Jesus, faithfulness isn’t just about keeping a list of rules. Faithfulness is expanded and deepened. Faithfulness is about so much more than just a list of dos and don’ts. God cares about our motivation. God cares about our inner thoughts and feelings. You might do the right thing but for the wrong reason. You might avoid breaking a commandment but your inner thoughts have violated the spirit of the commandment.
Goodness, if you put it that way, there’s no way I’ll manage to be faithful! Maybe that is part of the underlying message. Faithfulness is never something we can achieve. We can’t claim that we have arrived. We won’t be sinless. Faithfulness is a journey. Just when we have made some progress, we realize how much further we have to go. We are following a Lord who challenges us to a higher level of faith than we will ever have by keeping the rules.
Prayer: Gracious God, you have called me and claimed me. As I try to follow Jesus Christ, encourage me and strengthen me for the journey. Open my eyes to see my own sins and shortcomings, and show me what it means to be faithful. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].