January 5 - The Responsibility of Privilege

Devotional Scripture: Matthew 5:3-16

Central Thought: With every blessing comes responsibility.

    Matthew 5 presents Jesus' most famous discourse, known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is probably the most quoted yet least applied sermon on record. It is filled with contrasts and extremes; only the spiritually serious can fully understand the life principles being communicated.

    The sermon begins with the beatitudes. In these declarations, Jesus teaches that those who live for Him will live and think differently from the world. For example, it is the meek (the humble, the selfless) that shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), not the aggressive or selfish. Jesus' pronouncements of blessings cover virtually every situation you and I will ever face in life. What we often ignore, however, is that great responsibility comes with those blessings.

    Two responsibilities are found in Matthew 5:13-16. Christians are to serve as the 'salt of the earth” and the 'light of the world.” Both responsibilities place an emphasis on our character rather than on our works. The beatitudes actually address the internal (the heart)—our attitudes and our motives. When the heart is in tune with God, Christians can provide a moral restraint in this world of relativism. They can be shining lights in a world of darkness. God expects it, and the privilege of serving Him warrants it.

    As you read through the beatitudes, meditate on the blessings, but also remember the responsibility that comes with every blessing.

Devotional Prayer: Lord, let me so live that this world will see You and desire what You have to offer.

Today's Bible Reading: Genesis 11:1-13:4; Matthew 4:12-25; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-28