Eye for Eye One-a-Day Monday 10/26/20

A life worthy

You have heard it said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:38-39).

The concept of Eye for an Eye has been misappropriated.  The way I understand it, the idea was one of limiting punishment, not intensifying it. The rule fit the punishment to the crime, and kept the offended party from going on a revenge rampage. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that people were actually taking eyes and teeth and limbs; God was simply establishing an upper limit on retribution.

Somewhere along the line, the idea devolved into, “You hurt me–I hurt you!”

With much growling and grunting and flaring of nostrils and gnashing of teeth.

As you may have noticed, that’s not what Jesus is about.

The world teaches us from an early age to stand up for our rights, and not to let anyone walk all over us. And here is Jesus, telling us the opposite.

What do we do with this?

I want to be really careful about speaking for Jesus, but I think there are a couple of points to keep in mind here.  First, this is a general principle, not meant to cover every encounter. I don’t think Jesus is counseling the battered wife or the abused child to keep absorbing punishment.  Nor do I think Jesus wants us to stand by passively while another is hurt or abused. The need to stand up to evil is deep within us, and I think that desire is from God.

The principle here is that we do not belong to ourselves.  When we get consumed with our rights and our hurts and what we deserve we forget that we have been bought with a price. We are not our own.  Jesus, as he spoke these words, was preparing to face greater personal pain and loss and humiliation than you and I can imagine.  But he wasn’t going to call for vengeance. He was going to trust the Father–who loved him and cared for him and was totally capable of protecting him–to use this nightmare for his own glory. Which was what Jesus lived for.

It’s not about you, Beloved.

It’s not even about me.

It’s about Him.  

Happy Monday.

Cross My Heart One-a-Day Friday 10/23/20

A life worthy

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by Heaven, for it is God’s throne;  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 even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one  (Matthew 5:33-37).

If you can do it–do it.

If you can’t do it–move on.

I’m pretty sure God would rather see you do one good thing for the Kingdom than hear a thousand nifty promises.

So, have a great day…and keep your mouth shut.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Divorce One-a-Day Thursday 10/22/20

A life worthy

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).

People use these verses to formulate or justify their views on divorce and adultery and remarriage and that’s fine, because the verses address that,


they’re really about so much more.

Remember, Jesus is talking to those of us who get caught up in the minutiae.  Those who want to dot the “I” and cross the “T” and thread the needle and ignore the big picture.

Jesus never ignores the big picture.

Jesus is the big picture.

Marriage is more than the relationship between husband and wife, as important as that is.  It is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and his Church. As such, it is eternal. Today’s society can be pretty flippant about marriage.  If a couple “falls out of love,” if they “grow apart,” they can get a divorce and go their separate ways. Jesus is making sure we understand that marriage is not something to casually toss in the wastebasket.  Two become one; tearing them apart is a kind of death.

Look, I know that divorce happens for a lot of reasons, and it’s not always an easy choice. Sometimes people are not given a choice. I’m not trying to minimize that, nor am I throwing blame on anyone.  We live in a world that is broken, and that brokenness shows up in relationships. When it does, it brings pain and fear and loneliness and aching emptiness.

In a way, I think those who have suffered divorce can come closest to identifying with Jesus on the Cross.  The relationship that is closer than any other has been ripped from you, often without your desire or consent.  You are left broken and exposed and very, very alone, wondering

Why have you forsaken me?

Take comfort, Beloved, in the fact that there is One who will never leave you, never forsake you, never divorce you. He chose you long ago, and he never makes mistakes or changes his mind. You are his, and he is yours, now and forever.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Whatever it Takes One-a-Day Wednesday 10/21/20

A life worthy

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell  (Matthew 5:29-30).

Now we see where the phrase, “Cut that out!” came from.

I think it’s safe to say that Jesus is not literally suggesting self-mutilation as a behavior modification tool,


he is slamming home the seriousness of sin.

Beloved, let me ask you a question that I am afraid to ask myself: What sins are you putting up with in your life?

… (awkward pause)

Yeah, those sins.  

How much do you want them gone?

There is a scene in C.S. Lewis’s book The Great Divorce that I love and hate and fear. In this scene an angel encounters a man who has a lizard sitting on his shoulder.  The lizard, which represents a particular sin, whispers all manner of evil nastiness into the man’s ear. The angel offers to free the man from the evil nastiness by killing the lizard.  The man wants to be free of the lizard–or so he says–but he is unwilling to have it killed. He is afraid that in killing the lizard the angel will also kill the man. After much anguish and debate, the man decides that he wants the lizard gone, even if it kills him.

Brave man.

Beloved, you don’t have to cut off a hand or gouge out an eye to get right with God.

But…would you?  

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Adultery One-a-Day Tuesday 10/20/20

A life worthy

You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

Well, isn’t this a lovely thought to start your day?

Jesus is talking about the relationship between husband and wife, and telling us that fidelity is a matter of the heart and not just the hands.  On its own, that message is as timely today as it was in the first century. But Jesus is addressing more than the marriage relationship here. He is refocusing the philosophies that his listeners had grown up with.  The Mosaic law that the Jews followed was external–what you ate, what you touched, where you went. Jesus is saying that God requires so much more than that. Love in God’s eyes is a matter of attitude, not just action.  Jesus is continuing the process of, “Not abolishing…but fulfilling” that he began way back in verse 17. And he’s just getting warmed up.

Fasten your seat belt, Beloved.

This might get bumpy.

Happy Tuesday

Block By Block One-a-Day Monday 10/19/20

A life worthy

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:25-26).

In the last verse, Jesus talked about how strife with others will hinder your spiritual life.

Today, we see that it can get in the way of other aspects of your life as well.

Yeah, so maybe the key is to take care of your interpersonal issues right away, hmmm?  Don’t let problems brew, or you’ll end up with Trouble Tea.

Get it?  Brew…tea…ya?

I’m here all week.

When you were a kid, did you ever build a tower out of blocks? The goal, of course, was height; you wanted your tower to reach the stars.  So you started stacking one block on top of another, going for the record. The problem was, before your tower got too tall it started to wobble.  If you didn’t act quickly, it would collapse. The way to strengthen your tower, to keep it from wobbling, was simple:

Make it wider.

As a child you learned that vertical must be supported by horizontal or…crash.

True for blocks, true for relationships.  Your relationship with God does not,


exist apart from your relationship with others. Those relationships are the place where you put into practice all that you learn from your walk with God.  It’s where the abstract becomes concrete.

What people issues do you have to deal with today?  Deal with them in as quick and Christ-honoring a fashion as you  can.

Stack those blocks wide, Beloved.  Build your tower tall.

Happy Monday

Reconcile One-a-Day Friday 10/16/20

A life worthy

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).

Oh, come on Paul.

Can’t I just pray and worship and love God without dealing with…you know…them?

Seriously, Paul, you don’t understand the situation.  You have no idea of the pain and frustration and betrayal and backbiting and desertion that went on.

If you knew what they have done…if you knew what I have done…

What’s that, Paul?

If I knew what Jesus has done…

But I do know what Jesus has done.


Beloved, it’s easy for words like apologize, and repent, and humility, and forgiveness to remain abstract concepts when we restrict them to our relationship with God.

That’s why he gave us…you know…them.

It’s in relationship that we really learn to love.

So, set down your gift

and take up your cross

and live what you profess.

Today, Beloved.

Happy Friday

Good Enough One-a-Day Thursday 10/15/20

A life worthy

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court, but anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:21-22).

Dang it.

I was doing so well, too.

I mean, I can honestly say that I’ve never murdered anyone.  And as for saying Raca, well, I’m not even entirely sure how to pronounce it.

But now, it seems, that’s not good enough.

Frankly, Beloved, it never was.

Happy Thursday.

Righteousness One-a-Day Wednesday 10/14/20

A life worthy

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Well, I guess you’re not going to Heaven.

No offense–neither am I.

At least not in our own strength.

Jesus saw these people doing their utmost to follow the letter of the law.  They dotted every I, crossed every T, strained every gnat.  But it wasn’t enough. It never could be. And, they focused so hard on the minutiae that they missed the big picture–

God’s righteous.

Our wretchedness.

Beloved, are you still trying to do this on your own?  Seriously? Still hoping that if you just work a little harder or read a little closer or pray a little more intensely that you will arrive?

You know it doesn’t work that way.

You need the righteousness of Christ.  And hey, good news! He’s got enough to spare, and he’s willing to share if you’ll just ask him.

Enough righteousness to get you into Heaven.

Enough righteousness to get you through today.

So go ahead, ask him.  I’ll wait.

There, that’s better.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Same God One-a-Day Tuesday 10/13/20

A life worthy

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).

We call them the Old Testament and the New Testament

when really

we should just call it the Testament.  

When I was a little kid, I thought that the God of the Old Testament was a totally different guy from the God of the New Testament.  Later, I figured it was the same God, but that he had matured through the eons. You know, he had stopped zapping people with lightning, and had kinda grown from the Rule-giver into the Grace-giver.

Yeah…I didn’t get a lot of doctrinal training early on…

The point is, it’s all the same God.  And his plan didn’t change. It’s not like Jesus was Plan B, after the whole Mosaic Law thing didn’t work out.  The Law worked out. It was perfect. It did exactly what it was supposed to do–show Man that he could never reach God on his own, and provide the framework for the perfect sacrifice that would, finally, bring peace.

Behold the Lamb of God, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday.