“Not The Smallest Letter” ( Matthew 5: 18, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Jesus tells us not to assume He comes to destroy the Law; rather He comes to fulfill the Law. He warns that unless we are more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees, we “will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) It is not enough to refrain from murder; we must refrain from being angry or insulting. It is not enough that we refrain from adultery; we must refrain from lust. It is not enough that we keep our oaths; we must not make oaths at all. It is not enough to love our neighbor; we must also love our enemy. It is not enough to be righteous; we must not be righteous “in front of people, to be seen by them.” (Matthew 6:1) It is not enough to pray; we must not pray in public “to be seen by people” or “babble like the idolators, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:5,7) It is not enough to fast; we must “put oil on [our] heads, and wash [our] faces.” (Matthew 6:17)

“Whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Looking in the mirror, I see the least in the kingdom of heaven for I break the least of these commands more times than I can count. I find no room in my heart for self-righteousness. The only righteousness I have belongs to another — my righteousness rests solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ, who fulfills the Law and the Prophets.

“To Your Father In Secret” ( Matthew 6: 1, 4, 18; HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“Be careful,” says Jesus, “not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them.” (Matthew 6:1) “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:18)

 

Be private, says Jesus, in prayer. “Don’t babble like the idolaters.” (Matthew 6:7) Be private, says Jesus, in giving to the poor. “Don’t sound a trumpet before you, like the hypocrites.” (Matthew 6:2) “Put oil on your head, and wash your face”, says Jesus, when you fast. (Matthew 6:17)

 

“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” (Matthew 6:3)

 

Yet, Jesus also says, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

 

Jesus is telling you that your light shines naturally; it cannot be hidden as you go about “your good works” which you know were designed — by God Himself in advance — for you to complete. As you complete these good works, the glory must be directed back to God. All that is good in you is a direct result of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

Let His light shine before others; to God be the glory! And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“That Is The Law And The Prophets” (Matthew 7: 12, NEB) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the Law and the prophets.” Our Lord calls this the “second great commandment;” otherwise known as “love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Yet, Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls to the pigs: they will only trample on them, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) And, He warns: “Beware of false prophets, men who come to you dressed up as sheep while underneath they are savage wolves. You recognize them by the fruits they bear.” (Matthew 7:15-16)

 

Jesus tells us to be wise as well as kind toward others. Yet, He says, “Pass no judgment, and you will not be judged.” He warns that “whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

If you wish to be treated well, then treat others well. If you wish to be given the benefit of the doubt, then give that benefit to the other. If you desire love, then love. If you desire peace, be peaceful. If you crave kindness and considerate behavior, be kind and considerate. Don’t “look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, with never a thought to the great plank in your own!” (Matthew 7:3-4)

 

Remember, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18) “That is why you recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:19) Nevertheless, treat others as you desire them to treat you. And, “your Father who sees what is secret will give you your reward.” (Matthew 6:18)