“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first, be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right-hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. “It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSA]
More than just the top 10
“Well, I haven’t murdered anyone.” Cut me some slack..
Jesus is speaking about Sin. It’s not just saying bad words, it’s thinking the worst, thinking ill of someone or even yourself, it is not thinking of your selfishness when pointing out the flaws of others, it is not just behavior of infidelity, it includes the thought of infidelity. We don’t stand a chance!?
Fans of Romans Chapter 6:1, What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? , well if I’m getting the penalty for thinking wrong, then I ought to get to taste it fruit of my sins.
Matthew’s Gospel is directed to those who knew a lifetime of keeping the law and following the statutes of the temple priests, judges, Pharisees, and Sadducees. The bottom line is Sin is not about cutting corners, getting by, getting around the rules, it is more than the ten commandments.
• Sin is real.
• Sin is easier than we make it out to be.
• Sin is something we all struggle to overcome.
Even if we narrowed the task to follow the teaching of Jesus
• We don’t love our enemies.
• we don’t feed or clothe all those who are in poverty.
• we don’t put others ahead of us all the time.
• we don’t always turn the other cheek.
• we don’t sell all that we have and follow Jesus..
Revisit the meaning of SIN.
Sin is that which we do, think or allow to occur that moves us or others away from the heart of God.
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Disciple Study Question
There was fellow several congregations ago, in a Disciples Bible Study class, declared,
• “God has it out for us.
• It’s too hard to keep all the laws, rules and parables.
• We are set up to fail!”
• So there is no use trying to be good.
• We need to give up on being righteous!
• We are just fooling ourselves.
• “I give up! Why even try?”
The answer is not what we expect. Just as Jesus tells in plainly, let your words be simple, direct and true. Give a yes or a no. The truth is that without Jesus we don’t stand a chance.
But we try to get around it or ignore it:
“My attorney advised me to say, I have no recollection of the events that occurred on that date and of the words I might or might not have said.”
“I don’t know who broke the vase in the living room, we know how you told us not to play in the house.”
“Let’s Make Deal”
We have a habit of the sin exchange
Here is the deal:” I won’t call you out so that you don’t call me out.” In our text today, Matthew recounts Jesus calling us all out!
There is where we need to hear the Good News Part!
Sin is so unmanageable that we MUST trust the grace of Jesus Christ to be our strength.
Our only hope is to trust the loving grace Jesus has for us and to place our faith completely in him.
Not as an excuse to keep sinning and wait until the end for the clean slate deal,
One church I served painted the “Sarum Prayer” around the wall at the edge of the ceiling and read the prayer in worship every week. It is an old pray. 13th century, but a mighty and powerful prayer:
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.
I offer some Contemporary Alternatives or Additions…
God be on my phone, and in my texting; God be in my car, and in my traveling; God be in my dreaming, and in my doing; God be in my face, and in my resting; God be in my gut, and in my striving.
God be in my home, and in my workplace; God be in my habits, and in my adventures; God be in my worries, and in my celebrations; God be in my to-do list, and in my procrastination list; God be in my success, and in my failures.
God be in my days, and in my nights; God be in my rest, and in my labors;
God be in my fear, and in my witness; God be in my words, and in my thinking. God be in my loosing, and in my winning.
God be in my boldness, and in my silence; God be in my troubles, and in my times of ease; God be in my attitude, and in my responses; God be in my duty, and in my leisure; God be in my going out, and my coming home.
Or another Hymn to sing and remind of our need for Christ: Learn it and sing it:
“I Need Thee Every Hour”, by Annie Hawks
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 397
I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.
This hymn by Annie Sherwood Hawks (1835-1918) reflects the same general characteristics as those of the other four 19th-century women hymn writers discussed during Lent. The women all employ first-person accounts that grow our deep personal piety, resulting in a language of intimacy between the singer and the Savior. A New York native, Hawks displayed a gift for verse at the early age of 14, contributing poems on a regular basis to a variety of newspapers. Though she composed over 400 hymn texts, “I Need Thee Every Hour” is the only hymn of hers that is still sung today.
Following her marriage to Charles Hawks in 1859, much of Hawks’ life centered on the domestic aspects of rearing three children. She was a member of Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Dr. Robert Lowry, a prominent writer of gospel songs, was her pastor. Lowry encouraged the gift that he saw in Hawks’ poetry.
The point of Jesus teaching disciples how slippery and familiar sin in our lives, it the overwhelming readiness Christ has to plainly and simply be our salvation, our hope, and our renewal.
The final words I leave for us to remember are from Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
It is in the loving mercy that we stand. Will you join me in the arms of Christ? Amen!!