Lord, examine the deep places of my heart so I may know You better and share Your life more fully.
Read: Matthew 5:33-48
 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’  But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;  or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reflect: What is at the heart of Jesus’ words?
Jesus reflects on the law, and not only does he hold his hearers to its standards, he raises the standard. Doesn’t Jesus set us free from being legalistic? Yes, indeed he does!
Jesus looks at the swearing of oaths (33-37), the right to revenge (38-42), and the limits of love (43-48). Jewish teaching is clear. You can seal your oath by binding it to God or something to do with God. You can exact compensation for a crime committed against you (but no more and no less). You must care for your “neighbor” (someone of the same race and religion), but are free to neglect or reject everyone else.
Now Jesus, the liberator who sets us free, demolishes the walls of these narrow-focused rules. He dismisses “sacred” oaths by saying our own character will prove our word. He irrigates the desert of legalism with rivers of grace. He dismantles the barriers between neighbor and stranger, friend and foe, by declaring that our Father God loves all equally and immeasurably; and so must we.
Be a person of your word. Let God bring justice for you. Love even as you have been loved.
Thank You, Lord, that You set me free from the letter of the law, and, in Christ, give me hope of living in true integrity.