Be Great in Godís Kingdom
Jerry A Collins
v What does it mean to be salt and light?
v How should I handle people who have something against me?
v How do I love those who are my enemies?
If you really want to be great why not pursue greatness in the eyes of God. Pursue greatness on the other side of the grave. That is the pursuit of those who want to please God. Matthew includes several principles from the teaching of Jesus which when included in your life make you great in Godís kingdom. These expectations give us insight into what is consistent with the righteous life. A life that actually reflects the priorities and demands of the kingdom of god and our being lived out right now in the world where we live. As we review these expressions of righteousness, you will be able to consider where it is you measure up and be challenged to pursue each of these in your own life.
1. GOD WANTS US TO BE SALT AND LIGHT 13-16
The function of a believer in the world is to influence those people around you. By definition, that influence must be different from that which it influences. We are living in light of eternity and that is the kind of influence we must have.
Be salty13 Salt here equals motivating people to desire the light of Godís revelationóHis Word. The salty way is good works both of which are defined by Godóthat is the good and the works. The warning here is not to lose your saltiness-that is your flavor. Otherwise you become useless. The Bible is full of warnings about becoming useless to GodóJames. You maintain your saltiness by knowing the Word, the beatitudes.
Be light 14-16 By definition you light a light in order to see it shine in the dark. You do not light it to hide it. In fact, like a city on a hill it cannot be hiddenóthe hills of Albanian villages at night. Make the choice to let it shine. In such a way that God gets the glory by means of your good works as God defines that. So keep yourself salty. Donít become bland, boring or tolerant of evil. Be visible. Donít hide your spiritual gifts under a basket.
2. DETERMINE TO FULFILL THE COMMANDS OF GOD 17-20
You might get the idea from Christ that He wants to abolish the Law but He is not going to do that. Not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter of the law will fall away. Christ is going to fulfill it. We do that because the law or commands of Christ reflect the heart of God. What Jesus is saying here is that He is giving us the mind of God. It may sound like it is neglecting the law but it is not. It goes beyond it and gives us the mind of God. The Pharisees took them further from the mind of God. That is why they did not understand that Jesus was from God. They were too removed from the Word of God and therefore the mind of God. They disagreed. The Pharisees said Jesus was far from the law and Jesus said the Pharisees were far from the mind of God. So your righteousness must surpass that taught by your religion.
3. DONíT BE ANGRY WITH ANYONE 21-22
Ancients said to not commit murder. Jesus said if you are angry, you are guilty. The internal governs the external. Verbal abuse is discusses in vs 23. It comes from internal anger caused by false idea that other person is causing the problem. The truth is, God has caused our situation, and we have chosen to be angry about it. SO our problem is always a conflict with God about how to define what is in our best interest. So donít be angry.
4 TRY TO BE RECONCILED TO ONE WHO IS AGAINST YOU 23-24
Jesus gives most difficult challenge in relationships. It is not about you having something against someone else that would require forgiveness on you part. But if someone has something against you try to reconcile. That means that you apologize or acknowledge your sin. But in the end, the only way you can help them is to help them understand their problem is with God for putting them in this situation. That is what we must do in conflict resolution. Always keep God part of the equation.
5. DONíT GO TO COURT 25-26
There are at least three problems when we use the court: (1) It costs you time and worry. (2) You will have to defend yourself, so it produces pride, making a case for yourself to be against another. (3) You are a sinner, too, so you can lose more than you can win. You lose time, you lose morally (pride), and financially. So do not go there but if you end up there just realize you will lose one way or another. It is not the way to resolve any of our conflicts. It is better from the kingdoms point of view that you lose in reconciling with the other rather than losing in these ways by going to court. Besides, that is the way thee world resolves conflicts and you then arbitrate before sinners uninterested in righteous.