Matthew 5:43 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NIV)
Today’s reading continues from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus continues to teach us about holy living. My favorite quote from Mark Twain is from when he said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible that I do not understand that trouble me, it’s the parts I do understand that trouble me!” Today’s reading is certainly a challenging, if not troubling, passage. Through his teachings, Jesus makes it clear that love is often not a warm feeling, but a deliberate action – and it doesn’t always come naturally. We are sinful, and as such it is not natural for us to love those who treat us poorly, but that is what Jesus commands of us. Love is an action that takes the power of God’s Spirit working in us, or else we will fall short.
Jesus was God in the flesh, and he modeled for us the perfect example of a godly life. Our goal, as Christians, is to be Christ-like. This is why, in verse forty-eight, Jesus tells us to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus modeled godly love throughout his life, and he even modeled godly love as he forgave those who killed him. Can we be perfect? Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that we have all sinned, therefore we know that we are not perfect, at least not for long! Perfection, however, is what we strive for. John Wesley is often quoted as saying that our goal is to move on towards perfection. He was, however, preaching from Hebrews 6:1, which states: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection” (NKJV).
Perfection may seem too high a goal to shoot for, but if we set our sights lower and fail, how less of godly love will we achieve than if we set our sights on perfection! Today, let us deliberately, and consciously, love everyone. Let us seek the power of the Holy Spirit, and strive for perfection, as we seek to live as Christ-like as we possibly can.
Posted by Ramón Torres