Matthew 22:37 “And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. |
In Deuteronomy, Moses sits on a mountain and exhorts the people who were soon to enter the Promised Land in the following words, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). In Matthew Yeshua, who taught that the Kingdom of God was at hand, also sits on a mountain and exhorts His disciples how to live these higher standards of Torah (Matthew 12:28). The Master warns His friends in the following words, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). In other words, the deeds of righteousness of the religious leaders of His days were recognized as righteous acts, but they were not enough. What did Yeshua mean? The Master explains His statement.
Let us take a look at the words of the Master of the Sermon on the Mount, but through His own Jewish lenses. In Judaism, prayer is the work of the heart (b.Ta’anit 2a) and fasting is the afflicting of the soul (Leviticus 16:31; Isaiah 58:5). The word ‘might’ in Hebrew is ‘m’od’ which literally means ‘much’. Your ‘much’ is your worth or your substance. In other words to love the God with all your might is to love God with all your substance, in essence: the giving of charity. With these, we can now see that the Sermon on the Mount consisted of instruction on things such as prayer (Matthew 6:7-8), fasting (Matthew 6:17-18), and the giving of charity (Matthew 6:3-4). The Sermon on the Mount therefore represents instructions on how to practice loving God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our might in a higher manner than the religious people of His day..
As we ponder on the Master’s words, we discover that they teach us to obey Torah commands, but with the right motives; not in an outward show in order to earn the respect of men, nor for the social prestige that these actions bring.
It is so easy for our ‘righteousness’ to be an outward hypocritical show of religiosity. The Master teaches us instead that whereas we are to ‘let your light shine’ before others (to practice God’s words openly), we are to do it in a way that people see our ‘good works’ (good works = practicing of the Torah) and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (so that people will praise and give glory to God, not to us!) (Matthew 5:16). In other words, whatever we do should be done for the glory of God, not to increase our own value in the sight of men, a sentiment also expressed by Paul, Yeshua’s emissary (1 Corinthians 10:31).
As we practice the keeping the Sabbath this week, may we do it in a way that brings praise the Father in the heart of others.
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