Right Thoughts and Right Actions

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” –Matthew 5:21-22a

We all have had people we don’t like. Someone who is so insufferable that we cannot bear being in his presence. So obnoxious that it’s painful to hear him talk. The only thing that is restraining us from simply strangling him is the fact that murder would be a crime, not to mention the mess it would create. But if this is the only thing restraining us, what if we were in a secluded alley and could get away with murder if we could. I would say that if we could murder someone we completely despise without having to suffer consequences, we would do it in a heartbeat. In light of this how can we call ourselves better than people who openly commit murder? Sure we might look upon a murderer with disgust but how many of us could easily go down that path if the wrong buttons are pushed?

The Laws of the Pharisees focused on outward appearance, but never dealt with the condition of the heart. By implication then it was alright to hate as long as it did not develop into murder. But cannot hate develop into the act of murder? How many acts of genocide in the course of history have begun with thoughts of hatred and malice towards a certain group? Human action is determined by thoughts. Jesus knew this full well and declared that even those who hate in their thoughts are as guilty as committing the physical act of murder. But in light of these standards who can stand? We are truly depraved when we compare our thoughts to the standards of Christ. That is why we need Him; to constantly check our thoughts so that our actions would reflect His work in our lives. Charity done with a grimace loses its purity compared to when it is done with a truly loving and caring heart. Christ by His example compels us to love one another with all of our hearts. We may be able to purge ill-thoughts towards another person if we truly feel we can love them, but only the love of God in our lives can make us love the unlovable. We were unlovable to Him in our sin and yet He loved us enough to pay the penalty for our sins. May we display this love to others around us knowing this fact.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Who Do We Think We Are?

“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” –Proverbs 22:4 (NIV)

Pride is built into every one of us. As a result of the privileges we obtain or the abilities we already possess, we often think of ourselves as being superior to everyone around us. Even adopting “self-enlightened” or “holier-than-thou” attitudes is a form of pride in that it invariably places oneself as superior over those whom they have deemed as inferior. We love to boast because it satisfies our selfish and sinful nature that wants to be at the center of everyone’s attention and thoughts; a role that should be only designated to God Himself. People often lord their wealth and status over those that do not share the luxuries to the point of oppression. Thus they often see themselves as monarchs of the world; having the power of life and death over those they can control and manipulate. However, the prideful always fall for the very reason that the fuel of their attitudes is transient. Money, fame, and power are always fluid and can be lost as quickly and easily as it was gained.

Christians are not exempt from pride and sadly they succumb to it far too often. They often feel that their own piety and righteousness makes them, in their eyes at least, perfect compared to the rest of the world. But are we really? If we are honest with ourselves, even Christians in a living relationship with Christ often stumble and fall far too many times to even count. Thankfully our salvation is not based on the performance of the believer, for if that were true who could stand? Furthermore, what would be the need for God sending down His Son to die for all the sins of humanity if humanity already had the ability to save himself? The truth is humanity cannot save himself and any good that the believer does is done because of the redemptive work of God in his life, not of his own inherent, yet non-existent, righteousness. Paul wrote that he should boast only of the work of Christ in his life. May that also be the boast of our lives as well.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.