Boundaries Of Passion - Life Application Study Bible Devotional

Boundaries of Passion

Matthew 5:21-28, NIV

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 25Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. 27You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Setting the Scene

Right after pointing to the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus launches into some vivid examples that would have cut close to his audience: murder, legal actions, and adultery. It appears there were plenty of twenty-first-century problems back in the first century.

Instead of discussing when someone falls off a cliff, Jesus points out how long someone has walked along the edge before he fell off. When he brings up murder, he doesn’t question the law but instead draws attention to the motives leading up to murder. Hatred, insults, and curses are shown to be various expressions of the same danger of destructive passion.

When it comes to reconciliation, Jesus asks for more than a willingness to forgive if approached. He calls on his followers to initiate the peacemaking process. Forgiveness is important. Humility and vulnerability are necessary to make the first move.

And to those who might think to reduce God’s commands to the letter of overt action, Jesus points out the futility of such a course. While one might not commit adultery, one might still lust after someone.

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus uses the hyperbole of the ancient code of Hammurabi (“an eye for an eye”) to point out the seriousness of sin. His death on the cross was not about sins in the causal sense but about sin that infects us to the core of our being. Without Jesus, even the loss of an eye would not ensure our forgiveness. Only his righteousness earns us God’s forgiveness and cleanses us thoroughly.

Getting Personal

What is your definition of sin? Based on today’s passage, what do you think Jesus would say about your definition of sin?

When have you avoided a sin overtly only to realize that you committed it in your heart?

Sometimes we might shrug away a “minor” sin, thinking we’re in the clear as long as we don’t break God’s “major” laws. But no sin is “minor” or “major” in God’s sight. As Romans 3:23 reminds us, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Every infraction points to the need of a Savior.

Talking to God

Admit your tendency to arrange your own sins on a sliding scale of bad to worst. Ask God to help you turn away from all attitudes and actions that displease him; ask him to give you his own view of sin.

From the Book: