43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
God has never told His followers to hate their enemies. Christians are to practice love toward their enemies just as God practices love toward His enemies. After all, even when the world was sinning against Him, God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jno. 3:16). We were God’s enemies when we lived in sin, but in His great love He sent us a Savior (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4-5). When people mistreat you and sin against you, remember how God has loved you. Christian, you are a child of God. Act like His child and love your enemies. When you do you will be like your Father in heaven.
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)
Jesus dealt with people who thought their word was only binding if given with an oath under certain conditions. If not, then they felt free not to keep their word (see Matt. 23:16-22). Such people still exist. Honesty holds little value to them, so they break their word easily and repeatedly. Some think by emphasizing or exaggerating their honesty they somehow increase their integrity. So, they swear by God, by heaven and earth, and by many other things. They assure you they are telling you the truth. For Christians, a simple “yes” or “no” is enough to establish their truthfulness. Be a person of such integrity of heart that your word is your bond. Then when you speak, others will have no need to wonder whether or not what you say is actually true.
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
God’s prohibition against adultery has always served to protect against the disintegration of the family as well as a shield against personal immorality. Jesus exposes the source of adultery: lust in the heart. The eventual violation of the honorable marriage bed begins in a heart that has already been conditioned to do so through evil desire (Heb. 13:4; Matt. 15:19-20). Guard your heart against the lusts of the flesh. Do not watch movies, TV shows and videos that peddle such defilement. Utterly reject the filth of pornography. You cannot absorb the refuse of the world into your heart without being contaminated with sin. Diligently guard your heart today (Prov. 4:23).
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Persecution for faith in Christ not only occurs through bodily threats and the actual infliction of physical harm. It can also come in the form of lies and defamatory words designed to accuse and discredit. Jesus was accused of having a demon and being insane (John 10:20). A king told the apostle Paul he was “mad” although he spoke “words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:22-25). Instead of being silenced by defamation, faithful Christians rejoice “to be counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Jesus endured the reviling of sinners for our sake. Now, let us endure the harsh words of sinners for His sake. Rejoice; you have a great reward in heaven.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
Following Jesus Christ means making a clear, conscious decision to do His will regardless of pressure from others. To persecute means “to drive away” or “put to flight”. The idea is of one being pursued because he or she faith in Christ. The book of Acts tells of many early Christians who were threatened, beaten, imprisoned and killed because they were Christians. To put your life on the line for the Lord regardless of the pressures others put on you to recant and renounce your faith – this is a mark of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Make the decision today to pay whatever price must be paid to be faithful to Jesus. Do not deny the Lord and He will reward you with blessings from heaven.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
The strife and turmoil in the world is the result of sin, not God. Sin disturbs and destroys peace with God and with others. God is the great Peacemaker and His Son is the Prince of Peace (by whom we have peace with God and with one another, Eph. 2:14-18). It is natural that God’s children “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:11). Today, you be the person who resolves the conflicts of sin. Be forgiving, be merciful, be kind and patient. Show yourself to be a child of God and “as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
The heart is the seat of our will, our values, our choices, our emotions and much more. The heart identifies us. Our heart generates our words and our deeds. It defines who we are, not only to others but most importantly, to God. He is the great heart-knower (Acts 1:24). We may fool people about what is in our hearts, but we never fool God. And so God pleads with us to “cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). By following His word we are sanctified or set apart from sin (Jno. 17:17). Give your heart completely to God and live by His truth. Without holiness no one will not see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).