This week we look into our third lesson entitled “The Gospel According to You.” Since every Christian is a living, breathing gospel, it is very important that we guard our lives in every area that could be a potential reproach upon the name of Christ. In the last part of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is dealing with the second division of the law that is undergirded by the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” In the New Testament epistles, we find this command repeated three times. In Romans 13:9, Paul says this command is a compendium of all commandments that govern our interrelationships. In Galatians 5:14, he repeats this while enjoining us to serve one another. James calls this the “royal law” (Jas. 2:8) because this is the law of the King of kings and those who would reign with Christ must obey this law without hesitation.
Our relationship with others can be summed up into three areas: (1) How we speak to one another; (2) How we act towards one another; and (3) How we entreat for one another. Interestingly, Jesus addresses all three areas in Matthew 5:44: “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.” The later teachings of the epistles also emphasize the same components of testimony and give warnings as to the damage our testimony undergoes when we fail in any one of these vital areas.
Paul and James are both particularly concerned with divisions that occur in the church when we fail to obey the royal law. Paul says, “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). James speaks of envy and strife (Jas 3:14) and the poison that can be inflicted by an unruly tongue, stating that our tongues can be “a world of iniquity” (Jas. 3:6).
If our lives truly are an open book, then we must be very careful with every word we say. The same mouth that we use to praise God and speak His word should not be used for cursing and bitterness (Jas. 3:10-12). The gospel according to you may reflect the highest principles of the Kingdom or may reflect the basest elements of an unregenerate heart. There is great cause for personal concern if your life is characterized by the latter instead of the former. Essentially, Jesus is ruling out false professors who claim to be citizens yet have no proof of their citizenship.
What is the gospel according to you? Look at your attitude over the past week. Does it reflect the royal law? Constant self-examination will reveal if you are progressing in Christ-likeness. No progress equals no citizenship. If Christ truly lives in your heart, the gospel according to you will be the same as the gospel according to Him.
Pastor V. Mark Smith