Teach Me, Lord, to Turn from the Errors of This World and to Seek Out Your Words
“Ye hath heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away” (KJV, Matt. 5:38-42).
“Ye hath heard that it hath been said,”
Father, I thank You for Your grace toward me. I recognize that I do not deserve Your love, but You give it to me anyway. I recognize that I often do not give to You the glory that is due Your name. I pray that You would forgive me for my sin this day.
Thank You for being a forgiving God and for not holding my sin against me. I pray that You would help me to appreciate this fact more. I often abuse Your grace. Please teach me greater obedience. Please teach me how to love You more.
I see in this verse the way in which the world is influenced by conflicting thoughts. Things are said amongst people and taken as truth. Jesus confronted the people about what they had heard in the past and what they were applying in the present. In this life, I will encounter many philosophies, beliefs, and myths. Please teach me, Lord, to have a critical eye toward what is said. I do not pray for a hateful eye; or a self-righteous, judgmental eye; but an eye that can detect truth in the midst of falsehood.
I have heard many things being said, but much of what has been said is not true. Much of what is said, if I allow it, will lead me astray and take me far away from You.
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”
I also see that the people were twisting a part of Your Word and isolating Scripture to make a doctrine. While “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” was stated in the Old Testament, it was never meant to invoke hatred and bitterness and a desire for personal vengeance.
Father, I pray that You would help me to see the way in which You have been so merciful to me. If you applied the teaching of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” with me, I would have no hope to continue on in this world; I would have no hope of being with You throughout eternity. Instead, what I see in You is that You are a God of forgiveness, mercy, and love.
While You are a just God, it is also important for me to see Your mercy as I encounter others in this life. I can be prone to seek vengeance. I can be prone to protect my “rights.” But, Lord, I must never cease to look to You and the unfathomable riches of Your grace toward me.
I also see in this verse the way that You desire to curb sin, rather than punish it. Help me never to see in Your commands a God with a strong desire to punish sin, but a God Who wants to stop me from committing sin and Who desires to point me to Jesus as the solution to my sin problem. Your Word makes it clear that You do not delight in the death of the wicked. Teach me to think like You and love like you.
“But I say unto you”
What words of instruction! What guidance! Thank You for Your Words. Thank You for the ways in which You cared enough about me to tell me the way in which I ought to go. I was truly one of Your lambs that had strayed from the fold. I needed to be rescued, and in that moment, You sent out Your Word and healed me and delivered me from my destruction.
I cannot adequately express the great need that I have for Your Word. One of the problems that I encounter is that I do not comprehend the depths of my problems. I do not see the darkness as I ought, nor do I notice the corruption in my own heart as it is.
However, You have given me eyes to see these things in some measure. You have blessed me with ears to hear the still, small voice that beckons me to come and live the life of abundance in Christ Jesus. You have made me to speak as You do and think as You do. Although I am far from perfect, I press on as Paul did.
Teach me, Lord, to turn from the errors of this world and to seek out Your Words. Your Words are good Words, they are filled with truth, and they are good to the taste, much like honeycomb. Lord, there is none like You, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. You are the God Who spoke the universe in all its entire splendor into existence. The stars, the moon, and the planets all speak Your praise and shout of Your existence.
I want to know Your Words. Please do not withhold them from me.
“That ye resist not evil”
Your Word tells me that I must not resist the one who is evil; I must not seek to gain personal vengeance against those who do me wrong. Please work in my heart in this area. I see that it needs to change to be more like Yours, Lord Jesus. I am thankful that You did not resist me when I was evil. I also see ways in which evil still remains, yet You still do not resist me.
I see in You, Lord Jesus, a God Who moves toward me and a God of love. I see in the Pharisees to whom You spoke people whose hearts were not as they should have been. They were hateful, judgmental, and self-righteous. Please, Lord, I pray that You would help me to go in the other direction. I see in my heart a tendency toward those very same things. But, God, in You there is transformation, and I pray that You would work a miracle from within.
“but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”
Father, what a challenging command that You have given to me. Yet, in Christ, I see this as a reality. As the plower plowed upon His back, as the soldiers placed upon His head a crown of thorns, and as they struck Jesus on the head with a reed, He gave to them the other cheek. While You are not calling me to live a life of pacifism, I can see the example that Jesus has set.
I also see the way in which Jesus returned insults with kindness. Jesus was like no other man who had ever walked upon the earth. Jesus was full of love toward the people that He encountered. I pray that You would help me to be like Him and respond to situations like Christ.
When I am insulted, I find that my natural tendency is toward anger. I find that while I may respond outwardly with kindness, inwardly I am far from Christ. Give me a heart that grieves over the lost. Give me a heart that grieves over sin and is not personally offended by it. Give me a heart which desires that people would know You and that Your glory would be upheld, rather than a heartfelt desire to be respected or for “my glory” to be upheld.
You alone are worthy to be praised, worshipped, and adored. I see in Matthew 5:38-42 a tough calling. But I see in Your Words the path to life and true fulfillment. I am often misguided by the thought that the path to joy is by getting what I want and for everything to go my way. Teach me Lord, that the true path to joy is by submitting to the Lord’s will and by being conformed into the image of Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.