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Letter Twenty Seven

Imagine you were one of the women followers of Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth. What would it be like as you heard his teachings, walked by his side, and watched his ministry?

Dear sister,

Jesus is helping me to better understand the Laws from our Father. Some seem to think that he is trying to abolish the Law. But I can see that he is helping us to better understand the Father’s purpose in the Law. For example, we know that He told us through Moses not to murder. Jesus told us that to hold hatred toward another will be judged by God. Jesus is emphasizing that evil deeds begin with evil thoughts. Thus, we must be honest with what is going on inside our hearts and minds. King David asked God to search his heart to see if there was any offensive way in him.

Jesus is encouraging us to settle any grievances that we have with a brother or sister before we make any offerings at the altar. We are to try to settle disputes outside of court. To look at a man or woman lustfully is committing adultery in our hearts. We are not to swear an oath in God’s name. One of the statements Jesus made is still a struggle for me. He said to love our enemies. He said that it is easy to love those who love us, as even the pagans can do that. God is calling us to respond to our enemies in love, even in the midst of persecution. Then he said to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Peter, James, and I were discussing this. It all seems so difficult. But then we realized that what Jesus is really trying to help us see is that God is more concerned with our hearts than our actions. Of course, He wants our actions to be displaying His righteousness to others. However, if our hearts are not right, then our actions will not be pure. They will not be pleasing to the Father because God looks at the heart as much as He looks at our deeds. Our good works are to be an overflow of a heart of love for God and others.

Jesus went on to say: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” First, I must say that I got so excited to hear Jesus talking about us being in heaven. I admit that at times I have doubted if we really will be in heaven one day. Now I even learned that we will receive rewards for the righteous deeds we do on earth. However, Jesus made a point of again challenging our motives. We are to do these things to please God and serve others, not to draw the admirable praise of on-lookers. Whether we are giving to the needy, praying, or fasting, we are to do it privately, not drawing attention to ourselves.

Living for the Father’s glory,

your Big Sister

Today’s Bible Reading: Matthew 5:17-6:18; Psalm 139:23-24

Today’s Application:

Take time to pray and ask God to search your heart and lead you as to the motives behind all your actions. We want our actions to be coming out of a heart of love for God and others. We do not want them to be for the purpose of winning man’s approval or praise. Also, God wants us to live under grace, not legalism. Confess any deeds that you are doing that are not bringing glory to God.

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