But I Say Unto You

(Matthew 5:20-48)

The Pharisees were always concerned about the external! They made sure they were dressed in the finest of clothes to make themselves look good. They were always interested in exposing the sins of others to make themselves look good. They were always concerned about the toothpick in someone else’s eye instead of the telephone pole in their own. Likewise, they loved to use the Old Testament law to point out the sins they caught other people in, while ignoring the sins of their own hearts. Jesus instructed His disciples in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. He used the phrase “But I say unto you” seven times when He pointed out what the disciples had heard from the religious establishment of the day. It is more important to hear what Jesus says than any other person or group.

Jesus first said to His disciples they must be more genuine than the Pharisees to be His followers and to enter heaven. Jesus then said, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause. . .” is in danger of the same judgment as a murderer. Thou shalt not kill is not only a commandment, but can also be an attitude against someone. Murder is precipitated by anger. Jesus said to His disciples to control their attitude about others. Not only is the act of adultery a sin, but Jesus said to His disciples if you look at a woman and lust after her you have committed adultery in your heart. Jesus then dealt with the ungodly manner the Jewish men handled divorce, by treating a woman like a piece of property and putting her away for any petty reason. Jesus said to His disciples the only reason anyone should consider divorce was for sexual sin. The Pharisees and scribes had invented all sorts of oaths from major to minor situations. Jesus said to His disciples, “Swear not at all.” Everyone has heard, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but Jesus said, “. . .whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” His disciples no doubt had heard  the saying, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” What Jesus has said is more important than anything we have heard anyone else say. Jesus was more concerned with the heart issues. The breaking of any commandment comes from a problem of disobedience in the heart whether it is anger, adultery, divorce, swearing, vengeance, or hatred. Jesus taught His disciples and us that the real problem is not what we see outwardly, but what is taking place in the heart.

As we minister to others, let’s remember what Jesus said to His disciples. The outward actions are all that religious hypocritical people see. If you really want to minister to people as you serve God, examine your own heart. Only then will you be truly aware of the needs in the hearts of others. Greatness in heaven is not determined by the outward appearance of obeying God’s commandments, but the inward heart attitude of genuine love for God and people.

—Tim Daniel