Monday Sermon – Basic Preparatory Training
Today, it is useful to understand the basic preparatory training for those who want to follow Jesus.
Jesus gave a set of commandments. Some Christians found them challenging to follow, so they developed diverse and conflicting traditions about these commandments, including:
- they should be followed;
- they are optional;
- they are a guide;
- they are impossible to follow; and
- their purpose is to show us how sinful we are, and our need for a savior.
However, rather than speculate about whether we should follow them or not, we should go to the first rule on interpreting the Bible – what does Jesus say about it? If Jesus is silent on the matter, then we can go to other rules.
Jesus introduced His commandments by stating:
Whoever breaks the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
Jesus ended His commandments by stating:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I [Jesus] will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
It would seem that Jesus intended that that all of His followers should obey all of His commandments, which are included in what is popularly called, ‘the sermon on the mount’. A descriptive outline of this sermon follows. The details are provided in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapters 5 to 7.
- Expect to face challenging situations, so count the cost before making a commitment to follow Jesus. (Matthew 5:3-12)
- Be visible and effective in your obedience to God. (Matthew 5:13-16)
- Do the right thing, especially when there is no expectation of a reward. (Matthew 5:17-20)
- Maintain good relationships with others, and reconcile quickly with your adversaries. (Matthew 5:21-26)
- Do not sin in thoughts, words, or deeds. (Matthew 5:27-30)
- Be faithful to your spouse. (Matthew 5:31-32)
- Tell the truth always, regardless of the consequences. (Matthew 5:33-37)
- Submit to everyone and trust God. (Matthew 5:38-42)
- Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)
- Do charitable deeds in secret. (Matthew 6:1-4)
- Cultivate a relationship with God, your heavenly Father, and genuinely forgive everyone who hurts you. (Matthew 6:5-15)
- When fasting, do not make it obvious to others. (Matthew 6:16-18)
- Let your principal security be in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21)
- Do not be distracted with things that can cause you to lose your way. (Matthew 6:22-23)
- Trust God for your security, rather than trusting in your wealth, or your ability to generate wealth. (Matthew 6:24)
- Do not worry about anything, but first seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Do not attempt to correct others while you are struggling with the same challenges. (Matthew 7:1-5)
- Wisely share information with those who lack understanding. (Matthew 7:6)
- Treat others the way that you want to be treated. (Matthew 7:7-12)
- Stay on the responsible path, even when you have little company. (Matthew 7:13-14)
- Beware of counterfeit leaders – you will recognize them by their irresponsible behaviour, which they cannot stop doing. (Matthew 7:15-20)
- It is not only acknowledging Jesus as Lord that will allow you to enter the Kingdom, but by practicing these commandments. (Matthew 7:21-23)
- If you obey these sayings, then you will be stable, otherwise, you will be unstable during challenging times. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Jesus commanded His followers to obey both the letter and spirit of the law. Jesus did this by contrasting His commandments with those given by Moses and Jewish tradition, for example.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21b, 22)
Jesus’ commandments not only instruct believers to avoid doing what is wrong, but to proactively do what is right, motivated by love.
Many of these commandments appear to be contrary to our natural tendencies. However, we normally improve at doing whatever we practice. Therefore, with persistent practice, this behaviour can become habitual. Enjoy your improvement journey.