It’s easy for us to jog past some of the most underestimated statements in Scripture, especially when they are paved inside of well-known stretches of teaching. I plod right by them all the time. When my mental goal is set (three chapters before breakfast), the finish line can become more important than the process itself. This year I decided to change pace by poking through the Gospels and have already noticed phrases that escaped me before.
In the Sermon on the Mount (arguably the most famous discourse in the New Testament), Jesus was smashing legalism brick-by-brick telling people that the Kingdom of God is about a transformed heart, not just about what you do (or don’t do). It’s become one of those familiar passages, but read it again and try not running too fast.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
Besides the fact that He just took the seventh commandment up about a thousand notches, Jesus told us something striking about the Kingdom of God. For the longest time, I got overly focused on the warning. He did, after all, talk about ripping out eyeballs and chopping limbs off. But I missed the point of His message on fighting lust:
FOR IT IS BETTER
And He said it twice! The reason Jesus called people to purity and faithfulness was because His Kingdom made everything infinitely better. Money, clothes, and even sexual thoughts had meaning beyond what we imagined. He wasn’t just restricting people but inviting them to something more. Something better.
And I almost jogged right past it.