by Bailey Smith

The Cost of Christian Excellence
Bailey Smith
Matthew 5:38-44

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eve for an eye, and 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 cloke also. And whosoever 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 thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Disrali said, "It is a wretched thing to be satisfied with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us." How applicable in a world that today seems to delight in the "just barely accomplished" and the "just so I get by." The need for the annihilation of mediocrity and the fertilization of excellence is also found within the church. Fortunately, we do have some directions for the attainment of excellence in the Christian life. In the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus seems to realize the difficulty of living a genuine Christian life, so he tells us the price we must pay for being the Christian we should. Let's listen and see how his words apply to us.


When Jesus quotes "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," he is verbalizing an old Mosaic law which is often misunderstood. This law was actually written to keep men from going too far in their retaliations-to keep them from taking two eyes! But Jesus says that not only is one not supposed to return the same amount of evil he receives, he must not return any amount. Jesus says that the only proper avenger is God.

To understand this passage, we must remember two things. Not only is the teaching didactic, but polemica ...

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