From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
Years ago, the prophet Micah raised a question in which every person born needs to inquire at some point in their lives, “what does the Lord require” of me to please Him (Mic. 6:8)? As children of God, it’s needful to examine ourselves spiritually to asses if we are living up to God’s standards. During Micah’s time, the people of Israel violated each standard required by God – to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.
In today’s Bible readying Matthew 5-7, Jesus withdrew from the crowd to a mountainside to talk with His disciples, but the crowd followed. He used the occasion to explain the standards or way of life expected of those who would be associated with His kingdom to be established shortly (Matt. 4:17). Christians would do themselves a favor if they would put on their agenda to read the Sermon on the Mount at least once a week. Jesus’ greatest sermon recorded doesn’t provide the world the plan of salvation to have their sins removed, but it’s a masterpiece on describing the way of life for those in the kingdom.
Each time I read the Sermon on the Mount, it makes me feel like the Apostle Paul felt in Ephesians 3:8. In the passage, Paul declared that he felt unworthy, undeserving to be a servant (slave) to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” In a small way, George (in my favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”), portrayed the quality of character that Jesus desires to see in those in His kingdom. And so many times, I fall far short of my Lord’s expectations. Daily, I am thankful and appreciative of God’s amazing grace. How can a person read Matthew 5-7 after having knowledge of Matthew 27 and not desire to want to be and live better? In this sermon, Jesus set forth some challenges to those who would be servants in His kingdom. Allow me to share some of them with you.
First, the kingdom has to be first or number one in their lives; in other words, their desire is to please only one Master (Matt. 6:24, 33).
Second, they must understand and accept the fact that they are “blessed” people; the blessings those in the kingdom enjoy should motivate them to strive to be different than those outside of the kingdom (Matt. 5:3-16).
Third, the righteousness of those in the kingdom is expected to exceed or be better than those of the scribes and Pharisees; they were great teachers but exceptionally poor when it came to putting into practice God’s teachings (Matt. 5:21-48).
Fourth, those in the kingdom trust in God to supply all their physical and spiritual needs; they don’t allow their lives to be consumed with fears, concerns and challenges of this life (Matt. 6:25-34).
Fifth, the lives of those in the kingdom are built on faith that will enable them to stand when the stressors of this life beat upon their spiritual house (Matt. 7:23-27).
These are some of the challenges associated with the kingdom of Christ. God develop within each of us the desire and ability to live up to standards that will please you.