February 12 I Wednesday
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” —Matthew 5:27-28
From the opening verse of this devotion, Jesus tells us if we look at someone lustfully, we have already committed adultery with them in our heart. It seems almost like an incredible standard, how could we possibly live up to that? One thing is for certain, Jesus is not saying if we have sexual desires, we are an adulterer. If that were true, we would all live with a sense of condemnation; instead, we need to understand the meaning of lust.
The best way to explain lust is to compare it with love. Love focuses on the other person: their needs, their well-being and their dignity. The person being loved is the important thing in love; hence, love in a marriage context is about satisfying our marriage partner. Lust, however, focuses on ourselves: our needs, our wants and our own satisfaction. This is why
pornography can only stimulate lust as pornography can never stimulate a relationship.
We see an example of the difference between love and lust in the Old Testament story of Amnon and Tamar. Amnon claimed to be in love with his half-sister, Tamar, both of them offsprings of David. Amnon’s love and obsession for Tamar was so strong that it made himself ill. Then one day, Amnon received counsel from his advisor, Jonadab, who devised a plan for Amnon to pretend he is sick, so when the king goes to visit him, he could request for Tamar to make him food in his chambers.
Amnon did just that. David sent Tamar to cook and prepare food for Amnon. As Tamar brings the food to Amnon, he bluntly says, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” But Tamar responds, “No, my brother!...Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace?…Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But Amnon refused to listen to her and raped her. Afterwards, we read, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her”
(2 Samuel 13:11-13, 15). The story of Amnon is not a story of true love. Amnon was only in love with himself and what he was feeling towards Tamar was actually lust.
As distressing as the story of Amnon and Tamar is, we find in Scripture a story of true love, where God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him. Which story does our proclamation of love towards others emulate?
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for demonstrating true love in my life by sending Your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins and reconcile my relationship with You. I ask that the proclamations of love I make towards others emulate You. Amen!