by Tony Nester

I Never Knew You
Tony Nester
Matthew 7:21-23

(Matthew 7:21-23 NRSV) ""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. {22} On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' {23} Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"

The Sermon on the Mount sets up such a high expectation of righteousness that we can easily despair of ever being a good enough person to be accepted by God.

We are to be meek in the face of power, merciful when wronged, forgiving when sinned against, and happy when persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The goodness of our lives, shown through how we live, is to glorify God in this world.

Not only do we refrain from violence and murder, we do not allow ourselves to be angry, for anger is a form of murder. Not only do we condemn adulterous acts, we reject adulterous looks, for the lustful eye reveals that our hearts have been polluted with sin.

We turn the other cheek. We forgive our enemies.

We do not store up treasure on earth, but seek treasure in heaven, for where our treasure is, there will our hearts be as well. We do not serve Mammon, the God of money and materialism.

We do not condemn others but instead examine ourselves to see what faults are in us. We do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees — the very people who committed themselves to keeping all of God's written commandments. We are to be perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

There is good cause for becoming anxious when we listen to the Sermon on the Mount. How can we ever live up to what Jesus expects of us? Aren't we going to fail? Who among us can be sure ...

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