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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Heart

Matthew 5 is so full that it's taking me three days to read even the first few chapters. It's so easy to just rip through it and say, "done!" but then I would miss waaaay too much of it.

Matthew 5:25-26 is interesting. It says, "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

It got me to thinking about debt settlement. I see a dozen or so commercials a day talking about settling your debt for fractions of the original balance. I wondered if this was scriptural since it's not paying off the whole thing, but these two verses make me see it differently now. Debt is such an ugly word and no one wants to talk about it even though most have it to some degree. I think most people are feeling at least a little pinch in this crappy economy. Murphy's law always sets in when things are tight, too. Anyway...

love that Matthew chapter 5 talks about getting to the heart of things. So many people think that if they are "good people" and live a life being kind to others and not breaking any "serious" laws that they are okay. This chapter blows that theory right out of the water. Verses 27-48 not only address some of the big issues, which involve actions, but also the motivation behind them. Verse 27 starts off with adultery. Jesus said that everyone knows committing adultery is wrong, but He says that even thinking about someone else in a lustful way is committing adultery in your heart. It's not so much what our bodies do, the flesh, but what our minds are doing before or leading up to or during the physical act. If we didn't allow ourselves to linger on thoughts about things that are not right, our bodies wouldn't just automatically do those things. Not once have I ever had to stop my body from doing something unless my mind initiated the action. In psychology (which I will have my BS in in a few months) we learned about synapses and chemical processes and all the things that happen in the brain that lead to "thought" and then to physical movement. Whether its conscious and we realize we are thinking it or unconscious and we don't realize right off that we are---we are creating the thoughts that lead to the action.

Whether it's eating (which is a tough one for me right now--I LOVE all things not good for me!) or swearing or lying or thinking about someone in a way we shouldn't...it all starts in the mind. We call that the "heart" sometimes. How do those things get in there? Well, I am really becoming more convicted about what I am putting in my mind that help create those thoughts. The music I listen to, the movies I watch, the television shows I watch, the conversations I listen to, the stories I read...Why do I want my entertainment to be a bunch of junk that will only lead to me having thoughts I shouldn't or thoughts that give me anxiety...like those horrible stories all over the news about unspeakable things happening to kids...I am also becoming more aware of not just cutting things out but of adding things in-things that will put the right thoughts in my head. Things like this daily Bible reading. Things like music that has a good mesage.

My thinking about cutting some things out of my life that aren't beneficial goes along with verses 29-30. It's a little dramatic, but I get the gist: "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for the whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go in to hell." Right now I am gouging out music and movies and other things that contribute to the thoughts I have. I've tried it before and it didn't stick, but here I go again...

Verses 43-48 are a little tough to swallow. Loving my enemies is not exactly easy. Not only do I not want to talk to them but I definitely don't want to pray for them (unless it's to change them ) and I certainly don't want to give things to them or help them. But...Jesus was a renegade! He was a nonconformist when it came to the way society handled things in that day. He was progressive...I know that doesn't really fit in with the image most people have of Him. He's painted as a frail blonde man with piercing blue eyes and somewhat weak looking limbs. He was Jewish-He was most likely dark-and He was a carpenter. Chances are He was a strong guy. Not feeble or frail.

I like facebook because it's bridged the gap for me a little where "clique-iness" comes in. I am "friends" with some poeple that I may not have been in the same circles with in school, but we have all grown up and moved past that mentality, so it's nice to be able to relate to each other in a different way now. Chances are, if I really got to know my enemies...I would see that we really aren't that different.
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