Thursday, September 10, 2015

Matthew 5:19 -- On Doing and Teaching

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:19

The thing that strikes me about this verse is the phrase "and shall teach men so."  I don't think that we always realize what we are teaching others.  Teaching doesn't only happen in a formal classroom setting.  It is the example we set and the things that we do every day.  And when we break a commandment, even a small one, we justify it to ourselves... but we're also teaching the people around us that there are exceptions to God's laws under certain circumstances, and that it is okay to justify to get out of a responsibility.  This is a dangerous thing to believe, and to teach... not the part about there being exceptions, but the part where we assume that we are one.  God gets to make exceptions when necessary, as he did in the case of Nephi and Laban for instance, but we don't get to decide that we are exempt from God's commandments whenever they are inconvenient, or pick and choose which ones apply to us.  God's commandments apply to us all by default. :)
Today, let's consider what our actions and our lives are teaching the people around us.  Especially in formal classroom settings, let's make sure we have our facts straight about the gospel and that we aren't just teaching opinion.  If we aren't obeying some commandments, let's revisit those areas with God and be willing to do as he asks.  Let's not accidentally teach others to disrespect God or that the gospel is unimportant.  Let's show them how important it is by the way we live our lives.


  1. Well, if people don't get to pick and choose which pieces of the Bible they don't like, and which pieces they would rather ignore, then I guess we would be stuck with the truly horrible commandments , like stoning sons who are disrespectful to fathers, tacit acceptance of slavery, the notion that it's acceptable to punish the descendants of a person for the sins of an ancestor, for example. Personally, I'm quite glad that people cherry-pick what good bits they can out of the Bible and leave the bits which to any sort of modern , moral society, are anathema, whatever Matthew may or may not have said. Personally the Bible quote I prefer is Isiah 45:7 (KJV) "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things". That last bit, about evil, is one in particular that I think should not be cherry-picked.

  2. I'm glad that people try to find the truth in life as well, and you make a good point about choosing good and not evil. However, the Law of Moses was fulfilled with Christ's mortal ministry, and we have modern scripture and prophecy and prayer and God's spirit to help us understand the gospel and how it fits together... not just the Old Testament, and not just the Bible. With diligent study and those additional resources, we can have a clearer picture of the gospel, and we need to not feel like we are free to disobey God whenever we want to. If we really are uncertain about what he is asking, then I think you're right... we have to do our best to live according to whatever knowledge of truth and light we have. I simply also believe that we need to work at getting more light and knowledge so that we are not uncertain about what God requires.


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