MATTHEW 7:19_that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down…
Do you agree that trees which are not producing good fruit should be cut down? Every living thing has a purpose. It needs to perform that purpose to keep balance in life. Does that mean if your fig tree is having a bad year you need to cut it down? No. Jesus’ heart of compassion gives everything and everyone ample opportunity for life—including eternal life.
Jesus tells us a parable in Luke 13:6-9 (KJV), “He spake also this parable; ‘A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?’ 8 And he answering said unto him [owner], ‘Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [fertilize] it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.’”
This tree was taking up space and nutrients, yet not producing. The owner was correct that it was serving no purpose. The vine dresser, who spent his time in the garden, saw a slight hope that if this tree were carefully nurtured it might begin to produce.
Jesus sees that potential in all of us.
True God, You give me what I need to produce good fruit. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ gives everyone an opportunity for eternal life!
MATTHEW 7:1_Judge not…
Mercy sakes, if there is any phrase that is overplayed in our time it is, “Don’t judge me!”
Judging was not a part of Jesus’ agenda. John 12:47-48 (KJV), “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” Judgment was a part of the old covenant. When Jesus taught this sermon, He taught Law transformation. He transformed the Law with mercy. Jesus’ presence in the world is how mercy was added. This is how Jesus became the perfect balance of judgment and mercy.
Jesus did not take away judgment, He just added mercy. “48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
When Jesus went back to heaven He had dramatically changed the world. He did it in a radical salty-lit-up fashion. His disciples should keep that world-changing alive in the same way. So, if Jesus was more mercy than judgment, that’s the life for salty-lit-up disciples.
In the short amount of time Jesus spent on the earth, He affected the world in a way no one else ever had.
John 12:19 (KJV), “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”
Almighty God, I want to follow Your example of mercy, not judgment. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ changed the world—He calls me to!
MATTHEW 5:39_but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
If someone slaps you in the face, turn so they can do it again. What? No way! Jesus couldn’t possibly mean that! Where’s the balance?
There are more ways to be slapped than just physical. The pain of words is one – don’t want to be on the receiving end of that unbridled anger. An arrogant attitude is another – treated like you’re less than stupid. In whatever form the slap comes, Jesus has already taught not to seek revenge. Now does He say to let yourself be slapped again? That doesn’t make sense.
The teachings of Jesus can be radical – way radical! These law transformations are when Jesus is at His topsy-turvy best. His teaching appears to be wrong, maybe even crazy. A heart that has not been or is not being changed will find them to be just that – crazy!
Jesus has set a stage. Take a seat and enjoy the show. This is a play about a good guy who is injured by an evil bully. The bully is motivated by jealousy and envy. The good guy’s injury causes hardships in his life. The good guy looks for help but no one rushes to his rescue. Everyone fears the bully.
The good guy’s help comes from Jesus’ 180 degree turn.
Lord of Lords, You want to rescue me from the devil’s evil deeds. Help me make the turns I need to make. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ’s love knows when to turn—He will teach me!
MATTHEW 5:39_But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil…
Resist not evil sounds odd. After all, wouldn’t you want to resist evil whenever it came your way?
The word resist here can be translated, to withstand; oppose. Again, that sounds like the right way to handle evil. If evil comes at me, I intend to oppose it.
So, why is the word not a part of this teaching? Does Jesus say not to fight evil? Let evil have its own way? It could almost sound like Jesus is in favor of evil. Since that isn’t true, it could only be one thing – scale balancing. Justice and mercy do not balance without Jesus’ input.
If you’ve been treated wrong in a way that is not an actual crime, you won’t run to the court for help. If you are transforming into a salty-lit-up disciple, you’ll run to Jesus for help. He tells you not to plan a revenge plot. Jesus wants you to resist that temptation.
Something just doesn’t seem right. The only way it can be right is if Jesus beats up your enemy, right? That’s how to balance the scales!
So, what would Jesus do?
The answer to that question is phenomenal!! Jesus transforms the whole revenge thing.
King of Kings, Please change my heart so it seeks mercy more than revenge. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ balances the heart—He will balance mine!
MATTHEW 5:38_Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
This is a law transformation – big time! The Law said if someone were to blind your eye, you could blind their eye. It also said that if someone were to knock out your tooth, you could knock out their tooth. In the Old Testament this was justice. The truth is, most people like this kind of justice. It satisfies. Nobody gets by with anything.
If you’ve gained some insights over the past several months, it’s when Jesus begins a teaching with “Ye have heard that it hath been said”—He is about to transform that!
The Great Balancer wants balance between justice and revenge. There is a place in the world for justice, the judicial system. The Bible says there is only one place for revenge – in God’s hands. Romans 12:19 (KJV), “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.’”
God only, gets to decide if revenge is appropriate. If so, He carries it out. God carries revenge out in His way, and only His way. He carries it out in His time, and only His time.
Because of hard hearts, it is always best to let God decide how to deal with any kind of revenge.
Blessed Savior, Help me leave revenge in Your hands. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ balances revenge and mercy—I don’t know how!