One day Jesus and His disciples saw a man who had been born blind. Jesus spit in the dirt, made a little mud, put it on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. It probably made no sense to the man, but he went and did as Jesus had told him to do, and he came back with his sight restored. It was as simple as that. He obeyed what Jesus told him to do and experienced healing results. Would we have had faith to do as Jesus told us, or would we have stopped him when we felt the mud going on our eyes? Faith obeys even when it doesn’t understand. A. W. Tozer said, “We are so made that we trust good character and distrust its opposite, and that is why unbelief is so intensely wicked!” If we know Jesus well enough to have learned His character, we will trust Him. Hebrews 11:1-2 in the Amplified Bible tells us that faith, “[comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.”
We may dream of God asking us to do some great thing, but until we have faith enough to do what He asks of us in His Word, we will never be much use in His kingdom. When we read His words in the Scripture, do we have enough faith and trust in Him to actually do what He says? Or are we afraid of what will happen or what people will think of us if we do? Do we have enough faith to live in God’s kingdom principles now? His principles include His promises and His commandments. How established is our faith? What kind of faith do we really possess?
We can find the answer to those questions by simply examining our daily lives, actions, motives, priorities and words in light of what Jesus taught. If we use other people for comparison, we will get skewed results. We must go by Jesus’ teachings. It can be a sobering process and we have to go one step at a time so we won’t be so overwhelmed that we quit.
Looking into the Word of God we find many things He tells us to do or not to do. They are all for our good. Let’s look at a few of His teachings and begin to see how we measure up. If we see we are not doing very well, at least we have a place to start, and we can take one precept at a time, asking God to help us follow Him in that area.
Let’s start with Matthew 5:38-44. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
At first glance, this may sound like a dangerous commandment to follow. Is it safe to follow this commandment when it seems everyone will take advantage of us and we will be the laughingstock of everyone around us? But the real questions we need to ask are, “Did Jesus say it? Did Jesus mean what He said? Do we trust Him? I’ll let you answer those questions for yourself.
As you can see, it takes faith to follow the teachings of Jesus. This passage in Romans 12:17-21 may help us understand this teaching of Jesus’ a little more clearly. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Our faith in Jesus will lead us to follow Him with confidence that He will take care of the situation. If we retaliate with evil against our enemies, we have ceased to follow Jesus in that situation and have begun to follow the lead of the person who hurt us. Not only have we not brought peace to the situation but have lost our peace with God. Is our faith a little shaky in following Jesus in this principle? Or do we have confidence that He will take up our cause and we don’t have to resort to ungodly measures? It has been ingrained in us by our culture to stand up for our rights and if someone gets in our way to do whatever it takes to get revenge against them. But that is not Jesus’ way. Here is another question. Did Jesus live by this commandment? Of course, He did. First Peter 2:21-23 tells us, For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
We are called to follow the example of Jesus with full assurance that He will be with us and He will be the one to repay those who do us wrong. We do not have to defend ourselves. He is our defense and shield. Just as Jesus committed His cause to the Father, we can safely commit our cause into His hands.
In Matthew 6:31-32, Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
These are the words of Jesus. He never spoke idle words - words that had no meaning or were powerless. If we should worry and try to cover all our bases of the “just in case” scenarios of life, He would have told us so instead of telling us not to worry about tomorrow. The Amplified Bible translates the word “worry” as being “anxious, perpetually uneasy, distracted”. Yes, we are to be informed, prudent and work to make a living, but that is not to be our primary concern. Our top priority should be the kingdom of God. Do we trust Him to lead us today in a way that will have us prepared for tomorrow? Jesus said He would take care of it all. We can rest in Him. Our hopes, our dreams and our decisions should be based on the kingdom of God, not on the economy or priorities of this world. Most of us are probably already seeing the work that needs to be done in us to follow Jesus in this teaching. I know I am. But meditating on the Word of God is more important than worrying about the future over which we have no control. God is in complete control, and if we will listen to His voice, He will guide us in the right direction and provide for us. We don’t have to figure it out on our own. We can ask, and He will lead us. Philippians 4:6 gives us a remedy for worry. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus spoke an astounding truth. It is akin to the first teaching we studied. He said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. He didn’t bring a curse on them, when He had every right and the capability to do so. He wasn’t of this world, and neither are His children. He set us free by forgiving us, and we need to set others free from their prisons, too. If we want His forgiveness, we need to extend it to others. He even goes so far as to say, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) Wait! Shouldn’t the offender come to us? Not according to Jesus. He wants things cleared up before He will receive our “gift at the altar”. If the offending party hasn’t done it, it’s up to us.
The last teaching of Jesus we will look at is in Matthew 5:13-15. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Let’s be certain that we show forth the glory of God through our lives regardless of where we are and who we are with. Jesus tells us to make sure we don’t allow the glory of God placed in us by His Holy Spirit to fade. We are to bring light to every situation, not mesh into the darkness until our light is absorbed by it. We are to be salt to everyone around us, making them thirsty for the Spirit of God and showing them the way of Truth. It is often hard to live the principles of Jesus when others scoff at us and try to entice us. But, if they see us walking in the ways of Jesus, they will come to us when they realize their ways are not enough. We are to be examples of Jesus’ teachings, His love and His forgiveness. We are not responsible for the choices of other people, but we are responsible to glorify God so that they can know what He is like.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
And His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3