In my last post I touched on the commandments of Jesus and how keeping them is crucial to expressing that you love Him. He told us Himself:
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments.
John 14:15 (NET)
Ok, that’s pretty simple, isn’t it? If you love Jesus, you will obey (or keep as the KJV says) His commandments. And we showed that He also says this in the reverse manner:
The person who does not love me does not obey my words.
John 14:24a (NET)
In the last post we touched on a few of the Lord’s commandments. Here I’d like to go through a few more to be a bit more thorough about the subject. The first commandment that would seem of utmost importance would be the very commandment for having eternal life with Jesus.
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’
John 3:6-7 (NET)
That’s a fairly basic command of Jesus regarding Christianity. Be born again.
If you give up and don’t finish the rest, remember those two: (1) be born again, and (2) obey Jesus’ commandments.
Here are a number of other important commandments that Jesus gave us.
Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25 (NET)
We all want to pray and have our prayers answered. But so many times we come on our terms and wonder why we get no answer. Jesus had some stipulations. You want to pray then make sure you don’t have issue with anyone. If you do, go and forgive them.
First. Don’t promise to do it later. Forgive them. If you don’t then your Father in heaven won’t forgive you of your sins. In context we see that Jesus didn’t just throw this in for free — the meaning is that if you won’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive you and you have no right to have your prayer answered.
23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 25 Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison.
Matt 5:23-25 (NET)
So here you are bringing a gift to the altar (tithe/offerings) but — and get the exact wording here — your brother has something against you. Not you with something against your brother, but the other way around. How can you control your brother?
Well, Jesus tells us to reconcile that disagreement. We can’t just walk around and assume that this is a problem with our brother. You need to seek reconciliation. Also understand that the angst that Jesus speaks of here does not necessarily have to be something that would get you thrown in jail. It creates its own sort of prison. You’ve been there. You’re having an issue with an acquaintance and your both in the room avoiding each other. The common friends you might have with this person are not treated as trusted friends any longer — gee, they might talk! And your time is obsessed with thinking about this person and how they were wrong or bad or mean.
Note that this doesn’t mean that you need to be friends with everyone you know. Some people won’t accept the reconciliation attempt. In this case you can’t keep trying every time you see them. And there are people who simply need to be forgiven in your mind, but you don’t need to try to bring them back into your life. Perhaps they simply have a wrong attitude or way of life. Forgive them and let them be.
Here are a few wrapped into one:
“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.
Matt 6:1 (NET)
5 “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. 7 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matt 6:5-8 (NET)
“When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward.
Matt 6:16 (NET)
Well, you can see the point. Whether it be in giving, in praying or in fasting: other people should not be able to see you doing it. At the very least you shouldn’t make a big deal of it (to show others how much you are doing that “hurts”).
19 “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matt 6:19-21 (NET)
(Are you getting the feeling that Matthew 6 is pretty powerful?)
This commandment is quite important — and has been abused on all sides of the issue. Jesus tells us: Don’t store up treasures here on earth. Your “treasures” are the things that mean something to you. It is why Jesus tells us that where these things are, here we can find your heart. This is the stuff you love.
So you can store up stuff here in the earth or you can store up stuff in heaven. Some people use these verses as a justification for their poverty (most of these are in poverty and don’t have the mind to get out of it). This is not a set of verses that are saying don’t be prosperous. If they were then we would have contradiction in the Bible. Here, take a look:
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.
Jer 29:11 (NET)
So, if Matthew 6:19-20 is about avoiding prosperity and subjecting yourself to poverty, then Jeremiah lied. God has plans to prosper you. Are you to have plans to throw it all away? Of course not.
What Matthew is saying is that we are not to put our trust and our faith in things. We store things us here and point to them as a show of our prosperity and then they decay and rust. They have no longevity. ‘They are not eternal as are the things in heaven.
Many times we put our attention on our things: a new house, a new car. We should be focusing on the things of God first.
31 So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
Matt 6:31-34 (NET)
Pursue His kingdom (seek first the kingdom of God) and pursue righteousness — then the things of this world will be added to you. There is a balance. God will give to you what He knows you can handle. He knows what you need and will supply it. He even knows what you want (what you desire) and He will supply that if and when He knows you can handle it.
We’ve covered a number of Jesus’ commandments. There are many others: “Love one another,” “do not be divisive,” “care for the poor and widows,” just to name a few. But all the commandments boil down to this: pursue His kingdom. Participate in your own sanctification.
And love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and your soul.
Do you follow Jesus’ commandments? Remember, He said that if you don’t you can’t say you love Him. If you love Him then you will follow His commandments. What is your walk?