daily devotional

Jesus' Command: "Be Different!"

Read Matthew 6:8

When Jesus walked the earth, He attracted a number of people to Himself. On one occasion, He sat down among them and taught them some bottom-line truths about how He wanted them to grow up.

The scriptural account of His "Sermon on the Mount" is found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. If I were asked to suggest an overall theme of this grand sermon, it would be "Be different!" Time and again, Jesus states the way things were among the religious types of their day, and then He instructs them to be different. For example:

  • Matthew 5:21-22: "You have heard...but I say to you..."
  • Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard...but I say to you..."
  • Matthew 5:33-34: "Again, you have heard...but I say to you..."
  • Matthew 5:38-39: "You have heard . . . but I say to you..."
  • Matthew 5:43-44: "You have heard...but I say to you..."

Get the picture?

Then in Matthew 6, Jesus further explains how His listeners were to be different when they gave to the needy (6:2), and when they prayed (6:5), and when they fasted (6:16). The key verse in the entire sermon is, "So do not be like them..." (6:8).

You see, Jesus saw through all the pride and hypocrisy of others and was determined to instil in His disciples character traits of humility and authenticity. His unique teaching cut through the facade of religion like a sharp knife through warm butter. It remains to this day the most comprehensive delineation in all the New Testament of the Christian counterculture...offering a lifestyle totally at variance with the world system.

Are you willing to be different today?

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, Copyright 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.