New Hope Church

Day 20 – Lenten Devotional


Jesus taught God-centered morality

Matthew 7:12 Jesus taught… “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus taught us how we should behave as His followers.  He gave us many examples of Godly morals that we should follow.  Jesus made it clear that if you follow the letter of the law outwardly while inwardly despising others, you are a disingenuous hypocrite.  In Matthew 23:28 Jesus says of the teachers of the Law, “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Jesus taught that it is what is inside that counts, what your heart is truly made of will guide genuine actions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Matthew 15:18-20; 5:1-7:29; reiterated by Paul in Galatians 5:22)

There is a bulk of moral teaching from Jesus “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5:1-7:29.  He taught gentleness, humbleness, mercy, righteousness, pure hearts, resilience, perseverance and peacefulness in the beatitudes (5:3-12). Courage, compassion, sincere boldness, and obedience in Matt 5:13-21.  In Matthew 5:22-30 even thinking badly of someone is like committing murder. Just looking at another with lustful thoughts is the same as committing adultery. In other words, the sincere purity of your thought life is important.  In 5:31-32 Jesus taught that integrity, trust and unselfish love in marriage will stop divorce. In 5:33-37 He teaches the value of a trustworthy word is better than making a vow to someone; simply “let your no be no and your yes be yes.”  “Love your enemies” Jesus teaches in 5:38-47.

In Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus teaches us to be humble, pray rightly, love God inwardly, be God-focused not world-focused, desire to serve God, guard your eyes from impure sight and build pure hearts (watch what you take in to your thought life), have faith and do not worry.

Finally in Chapter 7 Jesus teaches us not to be hypocritical judges of others, but help others out of true concern, compassion and love, 7:1-7. He teaches us to guard our holiness in honoring our Lord, have a loving relationship with God, and “treat people the same way you want them to treat you,” in 7:8-12.  Do what is right, be discerning and “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” by being good fruit inspectors, in 7:13-20.  Lastly, Jesus sums it all up by teaching that hearing His words and acting on them out of genuine inward love for God is what our Lord desires and what He wants us to desire, 7:21-29.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is three chapters full of theology, law and especially Godly morals.  Matthew 5-6-7 Jesus teaches us the foundation of such Godly morality; love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength – and – love your neighbor as yourself!  The true heart of Godly actions!

REFLECT:  Do you profess to be a Christian but act in un-Christ-like ways?  Are you sometimes hypocritical?  Jesus calls us to reach for perfection in our Christian walk, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)  Do you love your neighbor, your enemies, your fellow Christians?
REPENT:  Change your ways. No human being can live a continuously God-centered moral life.  That is why we are so blessed to have a great high priest to intercede for us before the Father; “Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Rom 8:34) Confess your inadequacies of disobedience, move toward the way He wants you to live life and press on toward Christ-likeness.
RESTORE:  The Sermon on the Mount is truly hard stuff.  Yet Paul tells you to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2Co 10:5)  When you fail, be comforted that you have a loving and forgiving Father who wants to restore you and see you grow in a God-centered walk with Christ!
1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Pastor Tom Bellhy