Jesus begins one of his most famous sermons ( The Sermon on the Mount) with these words, "You have heard it said...But I tell you." I love this. A person could write for days or weeks about the Sermon on the Mount and all that it holds for those who follow the Jesus way. The reason that I love this, in this season of life, is that it is such a parental sermon. This is the Father heart of God being expressed to his children. The Sermon on the Mount is a crash course in life-lessons. When I was doing study on this, I was amazed to see that these are the things that I want my children to know. This sermon is a love note from a Father to his children about how not just to live, but to live the way that he designed us to live. That is why those words matter so much, "You have heard it said...But I tell you." Jesus is countering the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of God.
So I took some time to write Jesus' words again so that my children could read them and apply them to their lives in the future.
Matthew 5:21-26: Do not murder relationships with anger, bitterness or unforgiveness.
Matthew 5:27-30: Do not diminish the Imago Dei (Image of God) in your sisters or brothers or let your life be swallowed in sin.
Matthew 5:31-32: Do not break promises to your spouse. We are never more like God than when we are make and keep covenants. We are never more unlike God than when we make covenants and then break them.
Matthew 5:33-37: Be a person of your word. Let your yes's and no's stand firm.
Matthew 5:38-42: An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. Be a peacemaker.
Matthew 5:43-48: See the Imago Dei (Image of God) in everyone. Love your enemies because God loves them too. Love your enemies because you, who were once God's enemy, have been dearly loved.
Matthew 6:1-4: Give out of a pure heart. Share what you have with those who have less. Do it with no strings attached. Do not try to gain notoriety in the world through philanthropy. If you do, you will have missed the point entirely.
Matthew 6:5-15: Pray. Pray honestly. Pray to connect with God, not to sound holy in front of others. Pray simply; God knows what you need even before you ask. Pray for Kingdom eyes; for daily sustenance; for forgiveness; for perseverance in hard times and good.
Matthew 6:16-18: Fast humbly and don't make a show of it. Train your body to focus more clearly on God, not to get the attention of churchy people. They might think you are holy, but it won't give you a leg up with God.
Matthew 6:19-24: Don't give your heart to things that won't last. Invest your life in eternal things. Money is a cruel master; it will steal your best years and leave you bankrupt in the end.
Matthew 6:25-33: Don't waste away worrying over things you can't control. One hour of worrying doesn't equal one hour of life. Seek God; he sees your needs. He will provide.
Matthew 7:1-6: Don't judge one another. The amount of judgment you pour out is the amount you will fill your own cup with. Examine your own heart and wait for an invitation before you try to help your brother or sister with theirs.
Matthew 7:7-12: Ask God when you are in need. God opens doors to those who faithfully knock. Careful though, he may open the door that we least expect. God will always lead us to do for others what we would want done for us. This is the foundation for everything.
Matthew 7:13-14: There are not shortcuts to God. Don't follow the crowd.
Matthew 7:15-23: Be warned, just because someone sounds good or has a lot of influence doesn't mean they are worth following. God will help you see through those who are all talk but no substance. You will know what and who a person is by what their life and influence produces.
Matthew 7:24-27: Lay a firm foundation on the Rock (Jesus). Don't waste your time building castles made of sand.