Saturday, January 21, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Matthew 5-7
It is a daunting task to sum up Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in one brief devotional and I confess I am at a loss to do so!
Christ taught the Sermon on the Mount to “the multitudes” on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee (5:1-2). The audience consisted of Galileans (fisherman, shepherds, simple folk living in the area), Judean Jews (political and religious leaders of the day), and His disciples. The Sermon on the Mount is the inaugural address of Christ the King and a declaration of the character of those who would be citizens of His kingdom. The spiritual truths stated in the Sermon are the sum of the truths Christ will teach throughout His earthly ministry.
The opening verses of Matthew 5, known as the “Beatitudes” describe the character of the citizens of Christ’s Heavenly kingdom (Matthew 5:3-12). Here is a portrait of what manner of people Christians ought to be: “Poor in spirit”, they that mourn, the meek, those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness”, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and the persecuted. An honest, sincere reading of those eight attitudes and their promises should not only identify the godly character and conduct we are to exhibit, but also serve as a reminder of our inability to keep them in our own power and ability.
Matthew 5:13-16 reminds us that we are to have an active presence and influence in the world. While the benefits of the “salt of the earth” (5:13) are not readily seen, the light of a godly testimony is visible in the darkest times (5:14-16).
A list of exhortations and admonishments follow: 1) The futility of worshipping the Lord when you have unresolved offenses with another (5:23-24); 2) The sin of adultery is not only the physical act of unfaithfulness, but also the very lust of the heart for one who is not your spouse (5:27-28); 3) Perhaps the most profound of all, to “Love your enemies…” (5:43-44).
Matthew 6 addresses the hypocrisy of religious leaders whose piety was nothing more than a hollow exercise of public religion, devoid of sincere devotion to God (6:1-8). Christ challenged the disciples to not pray with vain repetitions as the hypocrites (6:5-8), but follow a model of prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer (6:9-13).
Matthew 6:19-34 confronts us with some of the most profound thoughts regarding the nature of our hearts and affections and the allegiance of our souls. I close today’s devotion with this question, “What do you treasure?” What do you love more than anything else? What consumes your thoughts? What keeps you going? What do you treasure more than anything else?
We all have things we treasure. We treasure possessions…family photos, mementoes of youth, honors bestowed on us by others. Some treasure fame and fortune; others treasure pleasure and applause. Some treasure relationships: their spouse, family, and friends.
Christ challenged His disciples that contentment arises from a right focus.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
God’s people are content when they seek the things of God’s kingdom and the righteousness of Christ [lit. the right standing before God in Christ]. We seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of Christ when we honor God in our attitudes and glorify Him in our actions.
Where is your treasure?
1 Timothy 6:6-7 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith