Reuel Leach - Our Public Life, excerpt of a letter - Africa - December 14, 2005

It has been a busy year for us, since our district is large and the friends are far and few between. The letter I am about to write has been in my thoughts for the last two weeks and much thought of how to keep applying it in my own life has gone into it. I don't know how I should write or structure this letter but maybe in your mind, you can do it for me. I do feel that the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are the most essential for us to understand of what our Father in Heaven expects of us. I did notice too, that in the later letters that the disciples wrote, they too mentioned what was said in Matthew 5 - 7. I believe that they are some of the most ignored chapters in the Bible, yes, often spoken about but hardly applied. Those things mentioned in Matthew 5 are reactions to some of the extreme pressures of being a son or a daughter of God. What I write below, I did not get from any theology studies or from any religious peoples’ thoughts on the subject, and they might be somewhat different to what their thoughts would be. The life of serving God in Spirit and in Truth is not such a matter of words or discussion but a quiet application of what we understand. It's not what others think we should be doing, but the gentle leading of the Spirit in each individual's life.

Matthew 5 (Our Public Life) so often, we hide our lamps, and don't want others to know we are following Jesus... So we just tow the line, and bow down to the pressures of the world. These I believe were some of the first teachings that were shared with the disciples. These teachings would separate the so-called Christian from the child of God. Verse 20 was a standard that exceeded any worldly or religious standard. It was not a THOU SHALT NOT, but BLESSED are they who.... Jesus brought a positive message to mankind. If all we did, which we often do, was talk about our sin and the sin of the world or the sin of governments, our lives would be totally off-track, but because we serve a living God who wants us to look UP, His teachings make us and help us to look up. If you are studying to be a doctor, you will naturally spend more time on the how to than the how not to. We want to know. Paul said that the law made people aware of sin and what it was. Jesus came to make us aware of the Will of His Father and what was required of us. Everything that is taught in Matthew 5 is contradictory to what the world and some of our parents have taught...and you will see why.

are the poor in spirit — even the poor are often despised by God's children. The other day I said something nice about someone and the answer came back, “Yes, but it would've been nice if he just got a better job.” I could not believe my ears. Imagine that! Judgment and despising in one shot… Poor in Spirit — not being so full of ourselves… The first thing that John the Baptist realized doesn't matter or what I think or say, but what God thinks. Why always give an answer for everything? And in this 3rd verse, it gives the promises that the Old Testament never gives. Only once in the Old Testament do we read of everlasting life or eternal life (Daniel 12). Jesus comes and does not tell us to be goody goodies, but He gives us something to live for — for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

are they that mourn... Did you ever think this was a blessing? It was part of Jesus’ life to mourn and to weep.

are the merciful. How often do we show mercy? Yes, we do to those we like and who like us, but what about the tramp or the beggar? And more importantly, to those who are amongst us who have fallen. Sometimes we are the only one to stand out and pay them a visit. Just do it, don't wait for someone's permission. Don't advertise your good works. Jesus told us about those self-righteous people, "When I was in prison, you visited me not." Oh, yes, they thought that meant to go to the State prison, and having their name in the newspaper or on the news. Jesus said, "You did not do it to these little ones," Mine. When one of God’s people is in bondage, do we despise them, join the clique or pick up the phone, and go and listen…not give advice, not come home and tell everyone what we know their problem is. Folks, we are still in Matthew 5. I am very careful when people ask me about the welfare of other people and what I should answer. Some people are genuinely interested while others spread the news with their own thoughts added. I am afraid that these people are the biggest trouble makers amongst us. Did you know that the tares had to grow amongst the wheat until the harvest? It’s not up to us to do the sorting out, or that the five foolish walked with the 5 wise until the bridegroom came. He is the one who will do the separation amongst the sheep and goats — not us.

are the pure in heart. Can we always do things with godly intentions, not trying to gain something by what we do, and then ignore those who cannot return the favour? We will also not be so down and disappointed if we live simple lives with pure intentions.

are the peacemakers. Sometimes it's hard to make peace, when we are already taking sides with someone in an argument. It's better to keep quiet. Tell the Truth? Do we really know the whole truth... do we really know and see how God sees things? Probably not, so it's better to love; that's the new commandment. Matthew 5 is like I Corinthians 13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth not easily provoked," etc. Can we say we have been striving for these things? Would we rather listen to a great orator speak and ignore those who can hardly speak in a little meeting?  We thank God for the love that we see in His Son and yet, do we still have an attitude of unforgiveness towards a fellow brother or sister? Jesus told us to leave our gift if we know our brother has something against us — verse 24… oh no! That’s their problem we think — too proud. Jesus taught us to love, not as we love our neighbour but as HE loved us. Our self-love is limited but the love that Jesus Christ has loved us with is a trillion times stronger — it has no limits, except we continue to ignore it right to the grave.

are the persecuted. Persecution is not only that which comes from the world, but it's something that our very brothers and sister might be doing, and it's cruel. It’s important that we experience it and not kick or frown when it happens. Joseph had all his 11 brothers persecute him; David had the anointed one of Israel persecute him. Abel had his brother persecute him, so why would it be any different today? What is the promise that comes with this message?  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven. Show me a greater goal; show me a greater thing to strive for. Yes, we don't go walking around with our Bibles under our arms telling everyone to get right, but we faithfully follow Jesus where He leads in the place where we are.

You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savour...If we think of our zeal when we first began to serve God, maybe we don't have the same zeal now as we get older. We don't worry too much anymore. We become set in our ways, a little impatient, drop the standard a little, don't pray much anymore, take our eyes off Jesus, and don't even talk about our Saviour in the meetings anymore. It can be easily noticed, that the love has died for the bridegroom, and the love for things and people have increased, for we don't bring bread to the meeting anymore, but the whip. We tell others what they should be doing. How different it was when we were small. We told them what WE did not do, how WE withstood temptation... This is when we lose our savour and the Saviour. We use the meeting's liberty to blow our own horns instead of taking the Spirit of Jesus Christ with us and share His love with one another. I realize how often I have been a hypocrite, just pretending on the outside to be a Worker, and just how empty I was being — so full of myself. It's important for me to change and to pray for others, not others to change and pray for myself.

Verse 14, 15, we are lights in this dark world, but we are not THE light of the world. We shine because we have accepted the humble Jesus Christ within. If the world accepts us and likes us, then it's because we are like them and we are hiding our lights. There has to be a difference between us and those, no matter how good we think they are (See verse 20). Oh, and by the way, Jesus said that only His Father in heaven is good, so what makes us think we can call anyone good. Only Jesus and His Father are worthy of being called Wonderful.

We need to be careful who we lift up in our minds and before others. Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. He came to fulfill God's promises. Even though mankind has gone so wrong, and even though man has given up on man, God still wants to give us a chance to see His Salvation, and His Son. But when we follow His Son, we need to follow His teachings. The way He was and the way He lived was acceptable and well-pleasing in His Father's eyes. He was the most powerful representative that ever lived, yet He never ever used this power to lift Himself up but to help others see the Father’s plan. He was given the plan, the way to draw men unto Him, and there is no other way that we or the religions of the world can do it. We can only draw men unto us when we do it our own way.

Verse 20, our righteousness exceeds the Pharisees’ and scribes’ righteousness. The Pharisees were following the commandments of men and not God. The only way to do this is to allow the Spirit to lead us and not our thoughts or anyone else's promptings. Sometimes God uses people to help us, so we test the spirits. But we can compare what we are told to these teachings of Jesus and see if they are the same.

Verses 21-24, whoever is angry with his brother without a cause or call him a vain fellow or call him a fool… Are you guilty? Do we sometimes air our opinions of others? Do we have reason to be angry with anyone? Will it help us draw near to God? Is our love only towards people who are kind towards us? Are we getting irritated with those in our meeting, are we shouting at our family members and calling others we don't live with wonderful? It's this that makes others notice whether we are the disciples of Jesus Christ or not. “By this shall all men know you are My disciples, that you love one another as I have loved you”… He did not say that you love one another like you love yourself, or until you get tired of them.

I don't even know if writing this letter will help any, if you will even finish reading it, or even if it will get to those who should read it, but all of us are struggling with the flesh, our own flesh especially. And are we feeding the flesh with fire and thunder, even looking for friends and workers to justify our cause when we have something against a brother or our brother has something against us. Have you not experienced the peace in saying sorry, nor do we never say sorry? We often will leave that to the other one, and if they do apologize, we want them to know how badly they have hurt us. I love the lost son's Father. He never beat the boy up when he came home or even ran him down while he was away living in sin. Leave your gift at the altar. None of us should enjoy any privileges in the Kingdom while there is any matter between us and a brother or sister. We can ignore it for a while, but the burden of unforgiveness on our own heads will grow and consume us. We won't get forgiveness until the matter is right, but we must let go of our pride first.

Verses 27-28, we must not waste our breathe talking about those amongst us who have married or divorced. It's a matter between them and God. I sometimes think when people get so upset about whether these should go to meetings or not, these folks are saying to me, “You must do something because God isn't!” It's His work and He will deal with them as He thinks best. In fact, Jesus always showed the most mercy in every situation He found Himself in. Now read verse 28, “Whosoever LOOKETH on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” How many men can say they are not guilty?

Verse 31, "it hath been said… But I say unto you." These verses are very important to read. Jesus points out clearly the difference between the Old and New Testament. In fact, the New Testament is of a higher standard without the millions of rules. Jesus changed a lot of things: no more temples, no more kings, no more country, but only His words. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the FATHER in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him,” John 4:23.

Verse 33, “Therefore said the disciples one to another, 'Hath any man brought him ought to eat?'” So often we hear in the meetings that we must keep the vows we made with the Father, but what does Jesus say? "Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.'" None of us knows what we are able to keep because we can hardly say we can keep ourselves. Don't swear or make promises but tell people what you will do, and end it by saying, "God-willing." Let them know that you consider God in your plans and that He makes the final decision. Don't hide your light under the bushel.

Verse 38, "an eye for an eye.” Oh yes, we talk about these verses, but very seldom ever apply them to ourselves. There is something in our Esau nature that wants us to get even with others that don't treat us according to our own specifications. Even just ignoring someone is saying, "I will teach you a lesson!" No, we teach one another the corrupt teachings of the modern civilization "stand up for your rights,” don’t turn the other cheek. May Jones explained this verse very well a few years ago. She told us if someone has slapped us, and after a long time they return, we should show them the other cheek, the one that is not hurt. This helps the liberty to continue amongst God's people. Jesus was the only One who had no sin and so is the only One who could judge, but instead He showed mercy. Yes I know people hurt us, but it's really their problem and can be our blessing. One of the friends was knocked over by a car. The man got out and expected to be sworn at, but instead the friend showed the right spirit. The man was so surprised that he came to meetings and professed. Why is the big ME, MYSELF, and I always in the way? That's all that will really hinder us from entering in with Jesus Christ and His Father one day.

Verses 40-42, why do we teach that we only give if we feel someone deserves something? What have you and I ever had that we really deserve?  

Verse 43, Jesus brought this new commandment of loving one another with the love that God supplies, not with our own human love. The love of God has no limitations, and because we are His representatives, we must not show limited love to any person. This love of God isn't a love that lets us start hugging everyone we see but it's a love that respects every character that we ever meet, knowing that Jesus loves their souls and they may be one of His. If I cannot get on with someone over here, what makes me think I will have a different nature in eternity?

Verses 45-48 are very important. I can see how orderly Jesus presented His words and how He explained things.  They make so much sense. If we only love those who love us, what righteousness do we have? There is no reward for us. Friends have told me that they don't talk to certain ones at all. They ignore them even in their own meetings and always have a million excuses or reasons. What will we hear one day? When I was sick, when I was in prison, you visited me not! When someone in our fellowship is in bondage, do we take out the hammer and give them a beating?

I realize that this letter is getting a little long, so will write something about Matthew 6 next week, God-willing. Matthew 6 is about our private lives.