Jesus was not against judging between good and evil. If someone steals your money, it’s appropriate to judge him to be a thief. On the other hand, Jesus was against the kind of judging that assigns motives to someone else’s actions, especially when we are guilty of an even greater misdeed. A good example would be judging a neighbor to be lazy because he doesn’t mow his lawn as often as you would like, when your own house is a total disaster on the inside. Jesus teaches us to focus on our own inadequacies rather than looking next door for a distraction from our personal failures.
It’s very common for guilty people to try and shift attention away from their own misdeeds by judging the misdeeds of others. Jesus wants us to judge our own behavior rather than assigning motives to the behavior of people we may not even know. When we are guilty of selfish, unloving, or unkind behavior, Jesus wants us to identify those misguided tendencies and change course. Pointing our finger at someone else will not correct our mistakes. We need to be more concerned with keeping our own house in order, rather than judging the actions others.
Rather than judging others, we are far better off offering understanding and actually providing assistance of some kind. Helping others will go a long way towards correcting many of our own inappropriate behaviors. Serving God by serving others stimulates our spirit and opens our eyes to what God wants our life to be. If the neighbor isn’t mowing the lawn as much as we would like, we need to go next door and find out how we can help. Judging accomplishes nothing. Helping accomplishes a great deal.
Keep in mind, when you encounter someone who is judgmental, that person is very likely hiding something that is keeping them from an honest relationship with Jesus. Someone who is constantly pointing out what they perceive to be the problems of others may have a misguided understanding of salvation through Jesus Christ. None of us will ever live a perfect life; this is why we need a Savior. This is why believers need to stand together in fellowship and support rather than judgment. Only the shed blood of Jesus can cover all of our sins and render us acceptable to God. Our mission is to look inward and judge our own behavior, not the behavior of others, while at the same time looking outward for opportunities to offer assistance whenever and wherever possible.
Jesus taught that obsessing over the daily necessities of life is a waste of time. When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our lives are guided by the Holy Spirit in much the same way as a pilot flying us across the country in a passenger aircraft. Even though we are unaware of the training level of the pilot, or the maintenance condition of the aircraft, we buckle our seat belt and try to enjoy the ride. We essentially trust the pilot to get us where we are going. As followers of Jesus, we need to trust God to be our pilot in life.
On an airplane ride, there isn’t any amount of worrying that will upgrade the condition of the air craft, change the weather conditions, or improve the pilot’s skill level. Worrying in the passenger’s seat is a useless endeavor. Likewise, constantly concerning yourself with the direction your life is traveling, is also a waste of time. God is in control. When you place your faith in Jesus and seek the will of God in all that you do, you can be certain to land safely in the kingdom of God.
Jesus taught that seeking the will of God in your life is the first step in connecting with the Holy Spirit. When your mind is focused on God it’s hard, if not impossible, not to find your way home. Keep in mind, the easy route is not always the best way forward. God knows precisely what you need and will guide your life toward total victory, even though you may need to fly through some turbulence on the way. When you trust God as your pilot, every aspect of your life will be carefully planned to guide you safely to the kingdom of heaven.
Wasting time worrying about the problems of life in this world is a distraction from the will of God. Jesus taught that we demonstrate our trust in God by serving others. When we show more concern for others rather than ourselves, we are traveling within the boundaries of God’s will. Serving God by serving others, with a pure heart, is the fuel that ignites the power of God in your life. Every minute spent on worrying about tomorrow is a minute wasted. Every minute spent sharing God’s love is a direct connection to the Creator of the universe. When God is your pilot, every moment of every day will be pointed in the right direction and you can be certain to arrive safely in the eternal arms of Jesus.
What is wealth? When Jesus began his ministry here on earth, he was confronted by a group of people who believed that great material gain equaled wealth. The Jewish philosophy at that time was that rich people are blessed by God and those living in poverty were being punished by God for some misdeed. In order to set the record straight, Jesus taught that wealth is not found in material gain. Jesus taught that the material treasures here on earth come and go, but the real treasure – real wealth – is found in serving God by serving others. This kind of wealth goes on forever. Bank accounts have no value to God. Loving service to others is the currency of our Lord.
Jesus also taught that having great material wealth can cloud your vision. When we spend our time focused on the new car we want to buy, or a bigger house, or our next vacation, we have lost sight of the real value of life. All those material aspirations are a distraction from the needs of others that God wants us to make our top priority. Jesus tells us that we have to make a choice between serving God and serving money. Jesus tells us that it is impossible to chase a larger bank account and remain faithful to God. Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with having lots of money, but there is a big problem when you care more about your money than you care about the well-being of others.
Money has no value to God. How we use our money to serve others is of great value to God. God wants us to share all that we have – our material things, our time, and most importantly our love. Sharing of ourselves in this way will generate a treasure in our heart that will travel with us into eternity. The stock market can crash, the housing market can grumble, the company we work for can go out of business – financial stability is never a sure thing; however, our spiritual stability is guaranteed when we seek the will of God in all that we do. Nothing is more valuable than our relationship with God.
Our most precious treasure is that which has been generated by a heart focused on serving God by serving others. There isn’t any amount of material gain that can compare with the gift of eternal life bestowed on those who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When we leave this life behind and join Jesus in all eternity, we will also leave behind every one of our treasures on earth. What we will be taking with us into eternity is the reward received for the blessings we have shared with others in this life. Our goal in this life should be to store up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth.
Essentially, Christianity is the practice of trying to become more like Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s example of what a perfect human should be – dedicated to loving God and dedicated to serving others with the love that God provides. Of course, none of us will ever be perfect but our goal should be to get as close as possible each day. One of the most important aspects of Jesus’ life was prayer. Jesus was known to spend a lot of time in prayer; therefore, if we want to be like Jesus we also need to spend time in prayer. Fortunately, Jesus left us with some very clear teaching on exactly how to pray, so let’s take a closer look at his instruction.
The first thing Jesus taught about prayer is that we have to be sincere. Prayer is not intended to be a demonstration to others – showing off how close we are to God – prayer is supposed to be a personal conversation with God. There are, of course, times when praying in a group is appropriate, but ultimately the best expression of prayer is alone with God. Jesus clearly taught that praying in a manner designed to impress others that are watching is an empty and meaningless endeavor. Keep in mind, God already knows what we want and more importantly what we need. The goal of our prayer is not to inform God, but to acknowledge his awesome power and love, while demonstrating our faith and devotion to him.
In order to help us understand precisely how to pray, Jesus offered a sample prayer commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” (Matthew 6:9-13) that provides us with the essential elements of a proper prayer to God. Reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” just as it is presented in the Bible is totally acceptable, however, there is some evidence Jesus intended us to use this prayer as a guide from which we would write our own more personal prayer. The simple formula Jesus provides is that we are to start our prayer with our reverence for God the Father, we are to demonstrate our trust and faith in Him, and we are to make our request known to Him as we confirm our dependency on Him. When we compose our prayers in this manner, we are following the outline of the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Finally, immediately after his teaching on the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus reminded us that we should not only pray like him but we should also forgive others in the same way God has forgiven our misdeeds through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Ultimately, our total devotion to God is lived out by trying to be more like Jesus every day. We should worship the Father like Jesus. We are to trust God like Jesus. We are to pray like Jesus. And we are to forgive like Jesus. When we remain focused on these specific goals, we are aligning our lives with the instructions found in the “Lord’s Prayer.”
God wants to have an intimate relationship with all of us. This is why he sent his son to die on the cross on our behalf – so that we might place our faith in Jesus and thereby receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As a follower of Jesus, we are directly connected to God through the Holy Spirit. It’s important for believers to tell others about their relationship with God so that they too, can share this experience; however, bragging about your Christian faith or making a spectacle of yourself in the name of Christianity is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus taught that giving to others in an effort to please God is something that should be done in private. If we make a big show out of our giving, we are only giving for recognition from our peers. God is not pleased by boastful giving; in fact, you will receive no reward from God for this kind of self-serving contribution. Giving for public recognition is nothing more than buying the praise of man and has little or nothing to do with God.
We can run into trouble when we pray in an ostentatious manner as well. This often becomes a problem when we pray out loud in a group. Sometimes public prayers become more of a statement to those listening rather than a conversation with God. Again, Jesus teaches that seeking recognition from those around us is contrary to seeking favor from God. Keep in mind, God already knows what we need; therefore, our prayers should be an expression of our faith in God’s love and his ability to provide for us, rather than a laundry list of our desires; or worse, an attempt to impress those listening.
Jesus made it very clear that pretending to serve God while actually seeking the approval of those watching, is an empty and meaningless endeavor. When we give, when we pray, when we serve others, we should be willing to do it all behind closed doors. All the glory for our effort should be attributed to God. When we follow the teachings of Jesus, our mission is clearly defined as a humble servant seeking no personal reward. True righteousness seeks the will of God and His blessing without recognition from others.
Before Jesus arrived on the scene, those who worshiped God did so by following a list of laws outlined in the Old Testament of the Bible. The religious leaders of the time had expanded these laws into 365 prohibitions and 248 commandments. No one could keep this law; as a result, everyone who wanted to please God had to continuously ask for His forgiveness through a series of elaborate rituals. Their goal was righteousness – to be right before God – however, these Old Testament laws would never be enough. Jesus came to change all of this.
All laws are to be understood on two different levels – the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. As an example, most cities have speed laws for motor vehicles. The letter of the law is to drive at a specific speed – maybe 35 miles per hour. But the spirit of the law is to drive at a safe speed. It’s possible to obey the letter of the law and break the spirit of the law if you continue to drive 35 miles per hour even though there are hazards in the road like construction, or school children crossing the street. In order to obey the spirit of the law – drive at a safe speed – you will sometimes need to go slower than 35 miles per hour. The Old Testament religious leaders were fixated on the letter of God’s law and Jesus came to redirect everyone to the spirit of God’s law.
Jesus taught that the spirit of the law that prohibits murder goes much deeper than the letter of that law. Jesus said that if you become angry with your brother or sister, you have broken the spirit of the law against murder. The action is not the crime – the crime is the intent of the heart. Similarly, Jesus taught that you only have to look at someone with lust in your heart to break the spirit of the law of adultery. As you can see, righteousness before God requires a much higher standard and the letter of the law is only a starting point. The spirit of the law holds the deeper intent that we all need to achieve to please God. Of course, this level of perfection is well beyond the abilities of mortal men – this is why Jesus came into the world – to save us from our inability to achieve righteousness in our own power.
Jesus didn’t come to add another list of prohibitions and commandments that are more difficult to achieve than those already on the books. Jesus came to point us away from the letter of the law and inspire us to embrace the spirit of the law. Only Jesus can provide the kind of transformation that will make an individual acceptable to God. When we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are instantly made righteous before God, and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to see God’s law in a new light – we become one with the spirit of God. The Old Testament law demonstrated our need for a Savior, and Jesus came to fulfill that need. When we trust Jesus, we have fulfilled the law and we become permanent members of the family of God.
Before Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jewish religious leaders known as the Pharisees taught that the only way to get into the Kingdom of Heaven was through righteousness. Righteousness is the quality of being right in the eyes of God. Essentially, righteousness is the term that identifies God’s perfection in attitude, behavior, thought, and understanding. Obviously, this is an impossible bar for ordinary humans to reach; however, the Pharisees believed they were God’s chosen people and therefore able to attain righteousness by observing a collection of religious rituals and traditions. They were wrong.
When Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount, he started off by saying that entrance into the kingdom of heaven would require righteousness that goes well beyond anything the Pharisees were able to acquire through their own effort. In fact, Jesus said that understanding you are unable to attain righteousness on your own, is the starting point. Jesus taught that to achieve righteousness, we first need to realize our need and have an appetite for a deeper relationship with God. Next, Jesus said that having mercy for the less fortunate was a hallmark of those worthy of receiving righteousness. This was a problem for the Pharisees, because they believed the less fortunate were being punished by God and therefore should not be given any consideration.
God’s unchangeable, unalterable, absolute holiness can only be attained as a gift from God. Jesus came to offer this gift to the world. When we place our trust in the teachings of Jesus and focus our lives on loving God and loving others, we are on the road to righteousness. Jesus taught that following this path would not be easy. Followers of Jesus are often disrespected by unbelievers; however, walking in the footsteps of Jesus is what is required to find our way into the kingdom of heaven.
The Pharisees believed they could earn their way into the kingdom of heaven, and they were so impressed with themselves that they were completely unable to identify the Son of God standing right in front of them. Jesus came to let everyone know that entrance into the kingdom of heaven would require a total lack of self-aggrandizement and a total dependency on God. The punishment for our inability to achieve God’s righteous standard is death; however, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross on our behalf, so that we might live. When we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are blessed with the gift of righteousness and granted eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Praise God for sending his Son! Praise God for His grace and mercy!
When the Jewish leaders told Jesus he should not be healing people on the Sabbath, Jesus responded by telling them God is always working and thereby claimed to be equal to God. Of course, Jesus backed up his claims by healing thousands of people and even raising some from the dead. Jesus made it clear that he was not God the Father, but the Son of God; however, he also made it clear that He and the Father are connected in a miraculous way. The Father and Son are one and when joined by the Holy Spirit, they form the Trinity of God.
Jesus explained to the Jewish leaders that Moses wrote about the coming of the Messiah. In fact, much of the Old Testament foretells the story of Jesus with prophesies that include his birth, death, and resurrection. Jesus went on to remind the Jewish leaders that John the Baptist came announcing the arrival of the Messiah and when Jesus was baptized by John, God the Father called out from heaven proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God. Jesus did not shy away from proclaiming his deity, but the Jewish leaders were afraid to give up their religious power and therefore ignored the obvious.
Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. When we place our faith in Jesus by rejecting our selfish desire and following the teachings of Jesus, we are granted the gift of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings ruling over all of creation. Only Jesus has the authority to supply us with forgiveness from our misdeeds and the path to becoming righteous children of God. The New Testament makes this all abundantly clear and is a detailed testimony to the lordship of Jesus.
Jesus rules over us all. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Him or not; he still remains Lord of all. Those who deny His existence are lost and will only find true freedom when they seek a relationship with Him. There is no greater love than the love of Jesus, who gave his life so that we might live. Trusting the Lordship of Jesus is not burdensome in any way, but is a release from the heavy weight this world places on us all. There is great comfort in knowing Jesus as the Lord of your life.