31.       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 5:28           Context: Matthew 5:27-30

Gulp! According to Jesus, it’s not just a sin when the act happens, but when the thought of the act happens. The Christian wanting to please God will seek to clean up their thought life! We need to do what Job did in Job 31:1, when he said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” Job didn’t want to view others as objects, but as people created in the image and likeness of God. So many people in our culture view dating as what they can get from the other person. Crass comments like “did you score?” are often heard in school bathrooms. That carnal way of thinking cheapens God’s design, in which people are to seek to build others up, helping them to be a better person. When you get married, you should not be full of scars from previous relationships that cause you to mistrust your own spouse. Instead, you should be a person used to giving and receiving in true friendship and love. Make a covenant with your eyes, and with your heart, not to view others wrongly!

 

32.       But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.  -Matthew 5:32           Context: Matthew 5:31-32

In our day many treat divorce as if it were like breaking up was in high school. Jesus clearly teaches that divorce is more than breaking a contract with each other, it is the breaking of a covenant before God. And covenants are supposed to be in effect until death. When this covenant is broken prematurely there are always hard consequences to be faced. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin, however, and it is unfortunate that many times in churches we make the innocent party in a divorce feel as guilty as the one who cheated and/or abandoned their spouse. Here Jesus uses a “strike clause” to speak of having been cheated on as grounds for divorce and presumably the possibility of remarriage later. Later in I Corinthians 7 Paul addresses the issue of spouses who have been abandoned, and the conclusion seems to be that they are free to move on and remarry. Other issues like abuse and involvement in illegal activity could fall under this teaching of “abandoning” the vows you made to your spouse. Where these kinds of sin were not involved, and spouses are just walking away from their vows without biblical grounds, Jesus indicates here that Heaven looks down and sees people who are not with the ones they are supposed to be with! Now the love of God and His ability to forgive when people repent should never be minimized. If you sinned against your spouse and it cost you the marriage, but have now recognized it as sin before God and asked His forgiveness, be assured of that forgiveness. If you and/or your spouse has re-married, you can’t have the marriage back, but you can and should recognize and repent of what was sin.  What Jesus is commanding here is that marriage should be honored and upheld, and that sin should be called sin. The person contemplating getting married should view their marriage as a covenant of commitment, more than simply with goo-goo eyes saying “we’re in live!” Anyone considering walking away from their marriage vows without biblical grounds should re-think what they are doing to themselves and their family. Research indicates that those who stay in those marriages report they are actually happier 5 years later than those who divorce. As a Pastor I have seen many marriages even overcome adultery and abandonment through God’s grace and forgiveness.

 

33.       But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.      -Matthew 5:37           Context: Matthew 5:33-37

It’s not uncommon to hear a person say, “I swear I’ll do it!” Jesus says here to stop doing that! If someone asks you to do something, say, “Yes, Sir, I’ll do it,” or “No, Sir, I will not be able to do it.” If you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it! Be a man or woman of your word. When you mess up, don’t say, “I swear I’ll do it right next time.” Instead, DO IT RIGHT NEXT TIME! Do the right thing for Jesus!

 

34.       You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. -Matthew 5:38-39

Ouch! Let’s start by saying what Jesus is not saying. Jesus is not saying it is wrong to have laws about restitution and retribution. Hunh, Danny – what does that mean? The Old Testament said when you did something wrong to somebody you should make it right. For example, if you break someone’s window, you should buy that person a new window and install it. That’s restitution, or restoring something. Some things, though, can’t be restored. If you murder someone, you can’t bring their life back. In the Old Testament that’s where retribution came in. When someone murdered someone, they had to be punished, they had to forfeit their own life. Thus the idea, “an eye for eye.” Notice even here the call was for the punishment to fit the crime. It’s not “eye for life,” but “eye for eye.” I’m sure sometimes if an eye had been lost, some type of appropriate compensation was agreed to covering the value of an eye. “Eye for eye” was merely poetic language for the punishment fitting the crime. Many of the laws of Western Civilization were built on the ideas of restitution and retribution. Here Jesus calls for His followers to go beyond the law by not holding people’s offenses against them, and not personally taking vengeance. This does not mean that lawlessness should reign in a “Christian” society. If someone does something violent, I want the laws of the land to punish that person lest they repeat the behavior and hurt others. At the same time, as a believer I would not try to hurt them myself, would forgive them before God, and would forgive them if they repented and asked for my forgiveness. This does not mean it would be “Christian” to allow someone to hurt someone else when it is in your power to stop them from doing it.

 

35.       If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. -Matthew 5:40-41

In the Roman Empire, soldiers could ask citizens in occupied countries to carry their heavy loads up to one mile. The citizen had to do it. Jesus here said that when they ask you to carry it one mile, you as a follower of Jesus should carry it a second mile. Why? Because the first mile is what you have to do! In the second mile is when people will realize you are doing something you don’t have to do. That’s when they will ask you why you are doing more than you have to. That’s when you get to explain that Jesus has gone the extra mile for you by bearing your sin burden to Calvary’s cross. Since He went the extra mile for you, you now go the extra mile for others! This teaching applies to all of life! It’s a teenager cleaning up their room and taking out the trash before they are asked, and then helping with other chores in the house. It’s a worker going above and beyond the call of duty in their profession. This principle almost always leads to opportunities to give a testimony for Jesus!