Jesus raised the standard when He delivered His “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in chapters 4 through 7 of Matthew’s gospel. In Chapter 5, He tells us that if we keep our bodies from adultery, murder, and the like but not our minds, then the guilt of sin remains in us. Loving in action and going beyond legal requirements is what He is looking for. So important is the denial of self, He put it in terms of self-mutilation in verses 29-30. Have you ever considered cutting off your cravings and throwing them away? That seems a lot more preferable to cutting off the arm that feeds my face! In verses 44 and 45 I read the following statement that really gripped me, because of its promise of the relationship as a child of God.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45, NRSV)

“So that” seems to answer the inevitable whining question, “But why?” that you just know the sinfully selfish always seem to ask. Don’t we?

I skipped my gym workout to catch up on much needed sleep this morning. That night in the hospital with Dad really took it out of me. I slept until time to go to work today. It’s my last day of work for a couple days but I have meetings and appointments all tomorrow and some of the next day.

Dear Father, today, help me to go beyond the worldly requirements and live according to Heavenly expectations by the power of Your Spirit rather than my flesh. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Help me cut off flesh to live by Spirit.