Our Bible Reading Plan is available to help you grow in the knowledge of God's Word. Our vision is to be an authentic community of faith that equips people with God's Word to go and share the gospel.
Click here for the Children's Bible Reading Plan
Jesus does not mean that we should never make judgments. Obviously, we make judgments every day. We judge between right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones, etc. Jesus is cautioning us not to judge others in a self-righteous, hypocritical way. We shouldn’t be habitually critical of someone when our own sin needs correcting as well. By judging others in an unbiblical and hypocritical way, we pay an enormous price. Ridiculing others exposes us to the righteous judgment of God, and most of us are not really aware that we bring more suffering on ourselves by our complaints against one another. Judging and accusing is what Satan does.
We all struggle with worry and anxiety—some with more depth of despair than others. The simple truth is the more we worry, the more we worry. Jesus starts addressing this issue by telling us to not let anxiety about food and clothing distract us from more important things in life. We cannot affect anything by worrying, and it does us no good. Jesus recognizes the very real struggle most of us have with anxiety and worry. He not only encourages us not to be anxious, but He gives us an antidote to the worry, stress, and anxiety that we all face: seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
In this part of Jesus’ sermon we learn that we must have our priorities concerning material things properly aligned if our relationship with God is going to be what it should. If your focus or “your eye” is on treasures on earth, your heart will experience great disappointment because the things in which you find your joy will not last. The enemy wants us to be consumed with earthly things, whether it be material possessions or internal issues like praise of men. He wants to steal our joy and peace. But, if you are storing up treasure in heaven, meaning you are living for God’s glory and the good of others, whatever happens on earth will not devastate you.
We know that prayer is a powerful and necessary spiritual discipline. Jesus, Who modeled that prayer is of the utmost importance, teaches that the manner in which we pray can be more important than what we say when we pray. Jesus gives us elements of proper prayer that include: praying in secret, avoiding vain repetition, patterning after His example, and offering prayer with a merciful and forgiving spirit. Fasting is another discipline that Jesus addresses. Jesus Himself practiced this discipline and talks about it as something we are to do. We are to approach fasting in the same manner as prayer.
We heard Jesus say earlier in His sermon, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Now Jesus is saying that our giving should be done in secret. Jesus is not contradicting Himself, but is addressing a different matter—the matter of the heart. He is addressing hypocrisy and phoniness in regard to righteousness. It is proper to do good works before men when we are trying to secure praise for God, but not when we are trying to secure praise for ourselves. If, in the innermost being of your heart, you do not mean to please and glorify God, your reward will be limited to the praise of men, not of God.
The Old Testament did not really say to hate your enemy, but it did teach to "love your neighbor as yourself,” and it taught that kindness was to be shown to your enemy. Choosing to love and pray for those who persecute or mistreat us mystifies unbelievers, and yet this is the lifestyle to which we are called by God. We are to love all people regardless of how they treat us. Although some may set themselves up as enemies against us, they are people in need of a saving relationship with Jesus and an understanding of His Lordship in their lives. The Word of God instructs us to love them, praying that they might enter His kingdom.
“Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” This statement is from the Mosaic laws and was given to guide the priests in meriting out proper punishment. The scribes and Pharisees had interpreted these statements to justify personal retribution and applied them by frequently taking matters of revenge into their own hands, just as many people do today. Jesus taught about the righteous of the kingdom by proclaiming two principles: do not resist an evil person and react to the evil being done by doing good. We are not to take vengeance into our own hands; vengeance is the Lord’s.
Kingdom relationships are governed by truthfulness. Having integrity of speech by doing what you say, means that God is reigning in your heart. The emphasis of the commands of God regarding oaths in the Old Testament was on truthfulness and faithfulness. A person must be truthful when swearing an oath; one must truly mean it. Our word should be enough. When we say yes, that should be as binding as a vow. When we say no, someone should be able to take that to the bank, because our word is good.
Jesus also addresses the commandment: You shall not commit adultery. He says that to even look at a woman lustfully (or women, to look at a man lustfully) is to be guilty of adultery in our hearts. "To lust" means to have a strong desire for, to possess and dominate completely. So serious is "lusting," Jesus goes on to say what we should do with respect to the lustful eye or any other stumbling blocks. We need to be utterly ruthless with sin. The battle between righteousness and sin is fought in our longings.
Jesus expanded on the true meaning and heart behind some of the commandments God passed on through Moses, opposing what the religious leaders had done by adding their oral traditions and their loop holes. He starts with murder. He said that not only is murder wrong, but the emotions which often lead to murder are wrong as well. Jesus was saying that being angry with a brother or insulting a brother makes someone just as guilty and liable to judgment as actually murdering someone. Unresolved anger can lead us to harbor unforgiveness and bitterness which is one of the most self-destructive forces in the world.