Journal Entry // April 1, 2023
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)Matthew 5:19
Jesus, having spoken about the continued importance and permanence of the fulfilled Law and the Prophets, now extends this importance from theoretical to practical. All of the Law has been fulfilled in Jesus and it will surely not pass away until Jesus ushers in the New Heavens and the New Earth. With this continued importance in the life of all believers, Jesus warns us to take each and every commandment seriously. We want to separate the commandments into light and heavy or minor and major if you prefer. We do this because it makes us feel better when we fail to live up to the commandments and find ourselves flailing in the current of sin. We want to say to ourselves, “Oh, it’s just a minor sin.” Jesus is warning us to not relax even on the seemingly least of these commandments and be careful not to teach our error of relaxation to others.
At first, I was thinking that Jesus was telling us here that we should consider all of the commandments equal. That the equality of the commandments meant there was no separation between minor and major or light and heavy. Yet, as I read and think about what Jesus is saying, it seems that he is here acknowledging that there are light and heavy commandments. So the warning is not to elevate all commandments to the highest level and make them all equal, but to be careful not to relax on the lighter and less weighty commandments.
Really, this is a call to not relax on any of the commandments. Jesus came to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets and they will all be accomplished. Each and every one of them is important for revealing Christ to us. Some could be called least and some could be called great, but all of them as a whole paint a beautiful picture of our great and wonderful Savior. From the least to the greatest, Jesus has fulfilled and will accomplish all of them. The Lord has ordained and decreed each one and confirmed their value in and through the life of Jesus, we should have this same level of love and obedience to be more like Jesus.
I know that I have failed in this area more often than I would like to admit. I often relax certain commandments and lower the bar of obedience. I make excuses for my sin and tell myself that this really isn’t as stringent as I think. “It’s just a minor mistake.” “It’s just a habit that I have always had.” “It’s just the way God made me.” It’s a slippery slope when I start to relax even the minor commandments and let sin begin to slip in and gain a foothold in my heart. Sin is never satisfied with just having me relax on a minor commandment. Sin is a voracious monster and always wants more and more. Relaxation quickly turns to apathy, which quickly turns to neglect. Pretty soon, I am wandering off into the marshland of filth, and sin’s grip grows tighter and tighter.
My love for Jesus is vital. The Enemy only seeks one thing, to tear me away from Christ by any means necessary. Relaxing on the most minor and seemingly simple commandments is an easy pathway for sin to sneak into my heart. I must be vigilant in my heart. I must not relax in my examination and repentance. Each and every day, I need to be giving an open and honest assessment of my heart. I must look intently at the gaps and cracks that may have formed in my walk. I must engage with Jesus to see sin eradicated from my life. Even a minor relaxation in one simple area can eventually lead to a wayward and disobedient heart. My daily life needs to be filled with the grace and mercy of Jesus bringing repentance and faith to my soul. I need to bring the nourishment of his Word into my heart and feed on it all day long.