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Wednesday Bible Reading| Matters of the Heart

Wednesday, January 28. Matthew 5:27-32

I watched the movie Guardians of the Galaxy this week. Drax the Destroyer is a character from a race that takes everything literally. For example, Rocket, the talking racoon, said that a concept would go right over Drax’s head. To which Drax replies, “Nothing can go over my head, I would catch it with my quick reflexes.”  The whole movie is filled with silly humor like that.

When we read today’s lesson from the Sermon on the Mount, we must be careful to not be like Drax. Jesus’ words, if taken literally, could lead to mutilation and extreme legalism.

We have already stated that Jesus has not come to abolish the law of Moses, or to give us a new set of rules, but to fulfill the law by showing us the deeper law behind it: the law of Love. He follows the formula, “You have heard it said…but I say…”

Today, Jesus tackles the laws regarding adultery and divorce. I want to give you a short version and a longer version of this devo.

Here’s the short version:

People are not sex objects to be used for personal enjoyment. God’s love honors everyone as equal. When God’s love saturates our hearts, we will treat everyone with dignity and respect. We won’t cheat on our family, or turn away from them when they displease us. God’s love is faithful.

If you want the longer version, keep reading:

The real issue here is how men should treat women. Remember, in those days, the men had all the power and women were usually treated as objects and possessions. Marriage was more like ownership than partnership. We must keep that in mind in order to understand Jesus’ point.

First, Jesus challenges the idea of adultery. The law of Moses says to not commit adultery. So, the man tells himself, “OK, don’t have sex with women who aren’t my wife.” Check. Then Jesus takes it deeper. Even if you lust after a woman, he says, you have committed adultery.

There is only one word in response to this. Busted.

Now, here’s the part where we can’t be like Drax. Jesus says to cut off body parts that cause you to sin. If we took that literally there would be a lot of mutilated people walking around. But, think about it. Can your eye really cause you to sin? I think Jesus is showing us that sin is not what you do. Sin is a heart condition. (not literal heart disease, but the heart as the center of your being. Come on, Drax, you can get this.)

Lust is self-focused. Love is other-focused. When your heart is full of God’s love for others, you don’t look at other people as sex objects for self-gratification. You see them as a human being, loved by God and deserving of respect. Lust and adultery evaporate in the presence of God’s love.

Then Jesus talks about divorce. This is a tricky topic today when two-thirds of all marriages end in divorce. According to the literal words of Jesus, every divorced and remarried person is an adulterer. End of discussion.

I think we’ve talked about this enough already to know that Jesus is not establishing a new universal law. The issue here is, again, a matter of the heart. The men in Jesus’ day viewed their wives as property to be purchased in marriage and sold in divorce, for whatever reason. Jesus screams out in defense of women, “NO! Marriage is not ownership! Marriage is a covenant of two people, equal in God’s eyes and committed to each other as a symbol of God’s faithfulness to God’s promise.”

Our society is ruled by selfishness and lust. Most of our actions are motivated by the thought, “what’s in it for me?” What do you think would happen in your life, and in our world, if everyone was motivated by God’s love, and our first thought was, “How can I help you?”

Walk in God’s loving faithfulness today.

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