This week we are memorizing:
Do not use Yahweh your God’s name as if it were of no significance.
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord [Lev 19:12; Num 30:2; Deut 23:21]. 34 But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. 35 You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. 36 And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.
21 “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he forcefully taught the value of honesty in what lies behind our words as well as in the words themselves. Our integrity shouldn’t come and go (“I swear I mean it this time”)—it should be a given. And when linked with God’s name, partial integrity dishonors God’s name. “An oath invoked a deity’s witness that one was telling the truth.”*
- Honesty begins with being honest with yourself and God (often a trusted small group, counselor, or accountability partner can help us.) How well do you understand the inner or outer forces that most often tempt you to “shade” your words or promises to other people, especially those you care deeply about? How easy or hard is it for you to be honest with yourself and God?
- “It’s not even enough to name Jesus as Lord, or perform extraordinary activities (like throwing out demons or working miracles) in his name. What matters is that one put into practice in one’s life the true righteousness of which Jesus had spoken in Matthew 5:20.”** How would you define the difference between showy outward “righteousness” and an inner as well as outer life that puts “true righteousness” into practice?
Lord Jesus, there are easy ways for me to claim your name—a sticker or fish symbol on my car, for instance. Give me strength to do the harder, but much more important, of living out your eternal goodness and mercy. Amen.
* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 219213). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 7:21-23 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 18 NT.
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Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.