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Matthew  ◦   Chapter 5

1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountainside to a flat place and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,2 and he began to teach, saying:

3 "Blessed are those who know their spiritual need, for they will receive the Remedy from heaven.

4 Blessed are those with tender hearts — those who feel the pain that selfishness causes — for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are those with humble hearts — who surrender self in order to help others — for they are living in harmony with the kingdom of heaven.

6 Blessed are those who hunger to be renewed in righteousness — to overflow with truth and love — for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful — those who are compassionate to others — for they will experience mercy.

8 Blessed are those whose hearts have been purified in other-centered love, for it is they who will see God.

9 Blessed are those who seek peace, who seek to reconcile all people — of all nations, races, and cultures — to God for all time, for they will be known as the children of God.10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what's right and loving others more than self, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people turn against you, misrepresent you, say all kinds of evil things about you, and persecute you because you accurately reveal me and my kingdom of love.12 Rejoice, knowing that you are being treated just as God's spokespersons who lived before you, and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven.

13 "You are like salt to humanity: preserving the knowledge of God, providing the flavor of heaven, and increasing the thirst for God. But if salt loses its saltiness, unless it becomes salty again, it is useless and will be thrown out and trampled upon.

14 "You are beacons of light in a world of darkness. A shining city on a hill cannot be hidden,15 and people don't light a lantern and hide it under a bucket. No! They display it prominently, so everyone receives its light.16 Be like that! Let your lives radiate the light of heavenly love and truth by the way you treat others, so that they may give thanks to your Father in heaven.

17 "And don't think that I have come to destroy what the Old Testament — Torah and Prophets — taught about God and his methods; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill them.18 Here is the simple truth: Heaven and earth would disappear if even the slightest change were made to God's design protocol for life — what you call his Law. I am not here to destroy the Law, but to accomplish everything it requires.19 Anyone who violates God's design (Law) and teaches others to do so is out of harmony with heaven; but anyone who practices God's methods (Law) and teaches others to do so is in harmony with the kingdom of heaven.20 I tell you plainly, if your characters are not renewed with righteousness surpassing that of the Pharisees and lawyers, it simply won't be possible for you to enter the heavenly kingdom of love.

21 "You know what our forefathers said: 'Do not murder, for anyone who murders is subject to trial.'22 But I am here to tell you a deeper reality: Anyone who is angry with another person damages their own character and is in danger of being diagnosed incurable. And anyone who demeans another's ability, calling them 'stupid,' needs counseling. But anyone who presumes to judge another's motives, calling them 'evil' or 'scoundrel,' hardens their own heart and is in danger of eternal destruction.

23 "Therefore, if you come to God with a gift and remember that you have not set right an offense against another,24 put your gift aside and first make things right and be reconciled with them, and only then bring your gift to God.

25 "If someone holds a grudge against you and sues you, do all you can to settle the dispute quickly. If it goes to court, you may end up in jail26 or have to pay a steep fine.

27 "You know that the Scripture says, 'Do not commit adultery.'28 But I am here to tell you a deeper reality: God is concerned with character; and anyone who looks on another lustfully commits adultery and corrupts their own heart.29 If you are vulnerable to visual temptation, then throw away the media and don't look at sensual material. You should be so resolutely committed to doing what is right that you would rather lose part of your body than lose eternal life.30 And if you are tempted by what you touch, then touch only that which is good. You should be so resolutely committed to doing what is right that you would rather lose part of your body than lose eternal life.

31 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must do it legally, giving her a divorce certificate to protect her rights.'32 I'm here to tell you a deeper reality: Divorce happens when love breaks down and selfishness wins. No one wants to lose a limb, but we sever a gangrenous limb to save the person; to sever a healthy limb is damaging and wrong. Likewise, anyone who divorces their spouse, except for the gangrenous situation of marital betrayal, inflicts unfaithfulness upon their spouse and whomever the divorced spouse should later marry. 1Adultery is a heart issue, as Jesus said in the verses before. Divorcing a spouse whose heart is not unfaithful, but because of selfishness in one’s own heart, forces the divorced spouse into a situation in which their heart still longs for their first spouse. If they remarry, their heart longs for the one they have lost, thus the new marriage is built on divided loyalties and longings, creating an adulterous situation.

33 "You have heard another saying from long ago, 'If you swear to do something, then keep your oaths, especially if you swore by the Lord.'34 But I am here to tell you a deeper reality: Be so consistently honest in all you do that there is never a need to swear or take an oath. Don't claim heaven as your witness while you perjure, for it is God's throne and won't support a liar.35 Don't use the earth to prove you are honest while practicing deception, for it is God's lesson book, and you will be exposed. Don't swear by Jerusalem to infer you can be trusted, for it is God's city, not yours.36 Don't even say 'on my own head,' for you cannot make even one hair grow — so how does the fact that your head grows hair prove that what you say is true?37 Simply, be honest in all you do. Let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No; anything more is used by the evil one to obscure and confuse.

38 "Remember that it was said long ago, 'An eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.'39 But I am here to tell you a deeper reality: Love others! Do not seek revenge against the evil person. If someone strikes your cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.40 And if someone sues you to take your coat, let them have your suit as well.41 If someone forces you to carry their burden for a mile, carry it two miles.42 God built the universe to operate upon love — free giving — so give freely to the one who asks you, and don't be selfish and turn away from someone who wants to borrow something from you.

43 "You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'44 But I am here to tell you a deeper reality: Life is constructed to operate only upon the law of love. So if you want to live, love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you,45 that you may live as sons and daughters of your Father in heaven. He is constantly giving of himself for the good of all, causing the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain on the righteous and unrighteous.46 If you love only those who love you, what difference will that make? — for selfishness still lives in your heart. Don't those who you consider 'evil' do that much?47 And if you show hospitality only to your family, how is your love greater than others? Don't even pagans do that?48 Live in harmony with God's design for life: Be perfect in love, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.