Day 6

Gen 13:5‐15:21, Matt 5:27‐48, Ps 6:1‐10, Prov 1:29‐33


Honor is an important and good thing in our culture.  It asks us to consider others more than ourselves.

  •  The Boy Scout motto is “On my honor, I will do my best…”
  •  One of God’s commandments says “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
  •  In the vows of a husband and wife are the words “Will you love, comfort, honor and keep?”

When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees regarding the rule of law, he always did two things. He always affirmed the law. But he also improved the rule of law with the rule of love. In today’s text, Jesus cited the law, both scriptural and social. In fact, Jesus’ message to the people was to stare the law in the face.

When struck with the ultimate in a humiliating insult, a backhand across the face, Jesus doesn’t completely avoid the issue of honor by telling us to sneak away. But he also doesn’t say we should strike back.

Instead, Jesus says look your attacker right in the face. When slapped in the face, don’t turn back but go face to face with a third alternative.

Jesus isn’t asking us to “lose face.” or looking for a way we can “save face.” Jesus isn’t saying we should “face off” in battle or “about face” and run in retreat. No, Jesus asks us to look our neighbor in the face and win over our enemies with God’s perfect law of love.

Jesus’ better way invites us to take God’s own love and perfection as our pattern. Not any human standard of honorable status, but Jesus’ model of holiness, Jesus’ descriptions of the “kingdom of God” delighted in turning the rules of honor on their heads.

Phyllis Bartle+
St. Jude’s Episcopal Church

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