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Vengeance


Have you ever heard someone downplay a scriptural command because it is in the Old Testament? I've heard it a million times, especially when it comes to God's command for people to tithe.

Matthew 5:17 should set this record straight. Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." Further He says that anyone that tries to annul the smallest law will be the least in the Kingdom. He explains what He means in the following verses. 

Jesus explained that the ancients said, don't commit murder, but He commanded Christians not to become angry with a person or call them names. Instead, Jesus taught his followers to approach people who are angry with them and try to become reconciled. 

The Old Testament also said not to commit adultery, but Jesus said, don't even lust after another person, then he uses extreme examples to say that true disciples even remove themselves from the opportunity to sin.

Concerning divorce, Jesus expanded the current ethic of giving a woman a certificate of divorce so she could remarry to the command not to divorce unless there is cause-"unchastity."

Everybody knows that a person shouldn't make false vows, but Jesus says not to make oaths at all. An honest person doesn't have to swear by anything, she just says "yes or no" and her credibility is evident to everyone and she is easily believed.

The Old Testament was clear that retribution could not exceed damages. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Jesus says not to take vengeance at all, instead, He said to do good. He said to turn the other cheek and go the second mile.

Everyone had heard that they should love their neighbor and hate their enemy. Again, a sense of balance is present in that way of thinking. But Jesus said we must love our enemies too.

In Matthew 5:17-48 Jesus takes each case to the ultimate extreme of conduct that is only possible if a person has the highest character. In essence, Jesus is calling his followers to a radical lifestyle. We cannot be satisfied with doing what is expected of us or living decent lives. People who follow in Jesus' steps must go beyond trying to be good people. He calls us to be godly people. Men and women of character. He is not asking us to do the "right thing." Jesus commands us to do more. More than what is expected. More that what is right.
 

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