Let Jesus’ Sayings Affect Your Attitude
“The one whom God sent forth speaks the sayings of God.”—JOHN 3:34.
1, 2. To what might Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount be likened, and why can we say it was based on “the sayings of God”?
ONE of the largest cut diamonds known today is the 530-carat Star of Africa. It is truly a precious gem! Far more valuable, however, are the spiritual gems found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. No wonder, for the sayings of Christ have Jehovah as their Source! Referring to Jesus, the Bible says: “The one whom God sent forth speaks the sayings of God.”—John 3:34-36.
2 Although the Sermon on the Mount may have been given in less than half an hour, it contained 21 quotations from eight books of the Hebrew Scriptures. So it was solidly based on “the sayings of God.” Let us now see how we can apply some of the many priceless sayings found in this masterful sermon of God’s beloved Son.
“First Make Your Peace With Your Brother”
3. After warning his disciples about the effects of wrath, Jesus gave what counsel?
3 As Christians, we are happy and peaceable because we have God’s holy spirit, and its fruitage includes joy and peace. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Jesus did not want his disciples to lose their peace and happiness, so he warned them about the death-dealing effects of prolonged wrath. (Read Matthew 5:21, 22.) He next declared: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.”—Matt. 5:23, 24.
4, 5. (a) What was the “gift” referred to in Jesus’ statement recorded at Matthew 5:23, 24? (b) How important is it to make peace with an offended brother?
4 The “gift” that Jesus mentioned was any offering presented at the temple in Jerusalem. For example, animal sacrifices were important because they were then part of the worship rendered to Jehovah by his people. However, Jesus stressed something of greater importance—making peace with an offended brother before offering a gift to God.
5 “Make your peace” means ‘to bring about a reconciliation.’ So, what lesson can we draw from this saying of Jesus? It must surely be that our way of dealing with others has a direct bearing on our relationship with Jehovah. (1 John 4:20) Indeed, offerings made to God in ancient times were meaningless if the one making them did not treat fellow humans properly.—Read Micah 6:6-8.
Humility Must Play a Role
6, 7. Why is humility needed when endeavoring to restore peaceful relations with a brother we have offended?
6 Making peace with an offended brother is likely to test our humility. Humble people do not argue or contend with fellow believers in an effort to establish supposed rights. That would create an unwholesome state of affairs—one similar to that once existing among Christians in ancient Corinth. Concerning that situation, the apostle Paul made this thought-provoking point: “It means altogether a defeat for you that you are having lawsuits with one another. Why do you not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?”—1 Cor. 6:7.
7 Jesus did not say that we should go to our brother just to convince him that we are right and he is wrong. Our objective should be to restore peaceful relations. To make peace, we must honestly express how we feel. We also need to acknowledge that the other person’s feelings have been hurt. And if we have been in error, surely we will want to apologize in a humble way.
‘If Your Right Eye Makes You Stumble’
8. Give the substance of Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 5:29, 30.
8 In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave sound counsel on morality. He knew that our imperfect body members can have a dangerous influence on us. Jesus therefore said: “If, now, that right eye of yours is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost to you than for your whole body to be pitched into Gehenna. Also, if your right hand is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost than for your whole body to land in Gehenna.”—Matt. 5:29, 30.
9. How can our “eye” or “hand” cause us to “stumble”?
9 The “eye” spoken of by Jesus represents the power or ability to focus our attention on something, and the “hand” relates to what we do with our hands. If care is not exercised, these body parts may cause us to “stumble” and cease ‘walking with God.’ (Gen. 5:22; 6:9) When tempted to disobey Jehovah, then, we need to take strong action, figuratively tearing out an eye or cutting off a hand.
10, 11. What can help us to avoid sexual immorality?
10 How can we restrain our eyes from concentrating on immoral things? “A covenant I have concluded with my eyes,” said the God-fearing man Job. “So how could I show myself attentive to a virgin?” (Job 31:1) Job was a married man who was determined not to violate God’s moral laws. That should be our attitude whether we are married or single. To avoid sexual immorality, we need to be guided by God’s holy spirit, which produces self-control in those who love God.—Gal. 5:22-25.
11 To avoid sexual immorality, we might do well to ask ourselves, ‘Do I allow my eyes to arouse in me an appetite for immoral material readily found in books, on television, or on the Internet?’ Let us also remember these words of the disciple James: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:14, 15) In fact, if any individual dedicated to God “keeps on looking” with immoral motives at someone of the opposite sex, he needs to make drastic changes comparable to tearing out the eye and throwing it away.—Read Matthew 5:27, 28.
12. What counsel of Paul can help us to fight against immoral desires?
12 Inasmuch as improper use of our hands can result in serious violations of Jehovah’s moral standards, we must be firmly determined to remain morally clean. Therefore, we should heed Paul’s counsel: “Deaden . . . your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5) The word “deaden” stresses the strong measures that must be taken to fight against immoral fleshly desires.
13, 14. Why is it vital to avoid immoral thoughts and acts?
13 In order to preserve his life, a person is likely to be willing to have a limb surgically amputated. The figurative ‘throwing away’ of the eye and the hand is vital for us to avoid immoral thinking and actions that can cost us our spiritual life. Keeping mentally, morally, and spiritually clean is the only way to escape the everlasting destruction symbolized by Gehenna.
14 Because of inherited sin and imperfection, maintaining moral cleanness requires effort. “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave,” said Paul, “that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) Let us therefore be determined to apply Jesus’ counsel on morality, never allowing ourselves to act in ways that show a lack of gratitude for his ransom sacrifice.—Matt. 20:28; Heb. 6:4-6.
15, 16. (a) How did Jesus set an example in giving? (b) What is meant by Jesus’ words recorded at Luke 6:38?
15 Jesus’ sayings and superlative example promote a giving spirit. He displayed great generosity in coming to the earth for the benefit of imperfect mankind. (Read 2 Corinthians 8:9.) Jesus willingly divested himself of heavenly glory to become a man and give his life for sinful humans, some of whom would gain riches in heaven as his joint heirs in the Kingdom. (Rom. 8:16, 17) And Jesus certainly encouraged generosity when he said:
16 “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” (Luke 6:38) ‘Pouring into the lap’ refers to a custom of some vendors to fill the fold of a purchaser’s wide upper garment, which was bound with a girdle and made into a pouch for carrying items. Our own spontaneous generosity may result in our receiving a fine measure in return, perhaps when we are in need.—Eccl. 11:2.
17. How did Jehovah set the prime example of giving, and what kind of giving can bring us joy?
17 Jehovah loves and rewards those who give cheerfully. He himself set the prime example, giving his only-begotten Son “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Paul wrote: “He that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6, 7) Giving of our time, energy, and material resources to promote true worship is sure to bring us joy and rich rewards.—Read Proverbs 19:17; Luke 16:9.
“Do Not Blow a Trumpet Ahead of You”
18. Under what circumstances will we “have no reward” from our heavenly Father?
18 “Take good care not to practice your righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matt. 6:1) By “righteousness,” Jesus meant conduct that conforms to the divine will. He did not mean that godly deeds should never be done in public, for he had told his disciples to “let [their] light shine before men.” (Matt. 5:14-16) But we will “have no reward” from our heavenly Father if we do things “in order to be observed” and admired, like actors performing onstage in a theater. If we have such motives, we will not enjoy a close relationship with God or the eternal blessings of Kingdom rule.
19, 20. (a) What did Jesus mean when he spoke against ‘blowing a trumpet’ when making “gifts of mercy”? (b) How do we not let the left hand know what the right is doing?
19 If we have a proper attitude, we will follow Jesus’ admonition: “Hence when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full.” (Matt. 6:2) “Gifts of mercy” were donations made to support the needy. (Read Isaiah 58:6, 7.) Jesus and his apostles had a common fund for use in helping the poor. (John 12:5-8; 13:29) Since almsgiving was not literally preceded by trumpet blasts, Jesus evidently used hyperbole when he said that we should not “blow a trumpet” ahead of us when making “gifts of mercy.” We are not to publicize such giving, as the Jewish Pharisees did. Jesus called them hypocrites because they advertised their charitable donations “in the synagogues and in the streets.” Those hypocrites were “having their reward in full.” The acclaim of men and possibly a front seat alongside noted rabbis in the synagogue would be all the reward they would get, for Jehovah would give them nothing. (Matt. 23:6) How, though, were Christ’s disciples to act? Jesus told them—and us:
20 “But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.” (Matt. 6:3, 4) Our hands usually work together. Therefore, not letting the left hand know what the right is doing means that we do not advertise our charitable deeds, even to those as close to us as our left hand is to our right hand.
21. Repayment from the One “looking on in secret” includes what?
21 If we do not boast about our charity, our “gifts of mercy” will be in secret. Then our Father, “who is looking on in secret,” will repay us. Residing in the heavens and invisible to human eyes, our heavenly Father remains “in secret” as far as mankind is concerned. (John 1:18) Repayment from the one “looking on in secret” includes Jehovah’s bringing us into an intimate relationship with him, forgiving our sins, and granting us eternal life. (Prov. 3:32; John 17:3; Eph. 1:7) That is so much better than receiving praise from humans!
Precious Sayings to Be Cherished
22, 23. Why should we cherish Jesus’ sayings?
22 The Sermon on the Mount is certainly full of spiritual gems having many lovely facets. It unquestionably contains priceless words that can bring us joy even in this troubled world. Yes, we will be happy if we cherish Jesus’ sayings and allow them to affect our attitude and way of life.
23 Everyone who “hears” and “does” what Jesus taught will be blessed. (Read Matthew 7:24, 25.) So let us be determined to comply with Jesus’ counsel. More of his sayings in the Sermon on the Mount will be considered in the final article of this series.
How Would You Respond?
• Why is it important to make peace with an offended brother?
• How can we avoid being stumbled by our “right eye”?
• What should be our attitude with regard to giving?
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How good it is to “make your peace” with an offended fellow believer!
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Jehovah blesses those who give cheerfully