Have you ever found enticing stories or half-truths compelling? Many times, when I was younger, family, friends, and familiar folk shared stories and quotes from Scottish folklore. These cultural tales were passed down from one generation to the next. Traditional treasured fables, perhaps birthed in truth, evolved into exaggerated mythical folklore with each retelling.

Only the discerning, mature mind recognizes truth from tradition.

In Matthew 5, Jesus challenges and confronts widely accepted misconceptions regarding truth and tradition. Addressing a crowd that probably included influential religious leaders, He contests the context, clarity, and credibility of first-century oral tradition — primarily so people would distinguish truth from tradition and interpret God’s Word correctly. As the living Word, Jesus corrects common misconceptions. Five times, He challenges established tradition by clarifying God’s Word on controversial issues. Jesus alludes to Leviticus 19:18 to reiterate and distinguish divine truth from widely accepted traditional interpretation.

As Christ-followers living in a similarly diverse and conflicting theological culture, are we susceptible to the same problem? If so, how do we discern between fact and fable, truth and tradition, or right and almost right? Unfortunately, we live in an equally competitive, consumerist faith culture with many compelling and often conflicting denominational creeds and commentaries that influence our personal theology. To minimize misunderstanding, we must ensure that any teaching, interpretation, or application aligns with God’s written Word and that we prayerfully and faithfully commit to studying it for ourselves by allowing His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, the living Word, to teach us your truth. In a world of compelling and often conflicting beliefs, protect my heart from error. Help me to immerse myself daily in your Word and may your Holy Spirit be my forever present counselor and teacher, leading me into all truth. Amen.

Go Deeper —Take time to read Matthew 5. As you read, ask yourself if you ensure that any teaching, interpretation, or application aligns with God’s written Word. Record your insights and commit to prayerfully, faithfully, and daily study God’s Word to minimize misinterpretation.

Tags: Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5
Photo Credit: Taneli Lahtinen