MATTHEW 5:48_Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus solves the whole right-and-wrong, love-and-hate, good-and-evil, thing by saying, “Be perfect!“ Yeah, right! Let me know how that works out for you!
Let’s translate the word perfect. In this verse it means full grown; to reach the character of virtue and integrity, complete. You may make mistakes, but perfection comes when you make a goal to work toward integrity. And more than that, a goal to become a radical, salty-lit-up disciple of Jesus. This kind of perfection is to become full grown in your love for Jesus, to pattern your life after His. To be complete in His love.
How can you get there? Jesus just spoke forty-six verses of a step by step plan that maps it out. If you choose this path, you won’t walk alone. You will enjoy the company of other radical disciples. You also have the treasure chest key, aka the Bible. You also have the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit within you opens the door to wisdom and teaches you how to apply that wisdom to your life. Perfection, achieving integrity and virtue, is a natural byproduct of wisdom.
There’s one more point before this chapter ends. Don’t miss it!
Heavenly Father, Teach me how to find the path to perfection. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ is perfect in every way—He will teach me a way!
MATTHEW 5:44_and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
Don’t you hate it when someone uses you? Whether they’ve used you for their political gain, or personal pleasure, you’ve been violated. Someone you trusted took advantage of your trust and used it to better themselves. Now they despise you. That’s because they suffer from guilt, and blame you. So, whenever they have the opportunity they persecute you.
Pray for them. Try not to be hurt by them, but hurt for them. They are suffering. Guilt overwhems their emotions. You can’t despise and persecute someone without it causing you more turmoil than it does them. Count on that!
Pray for God to help and heal them. Pray for them to respond to Jesus’ unconditional love, and accept it. Pray for them to allow The Great Transformer to set them free.
Set your heart in the forgiveness mode. Hurt for them. When you pray God reads your heart far more than hears your words. A hurting heart attracts and keeps God’s attention. When a heart hurts more for others than for itself, it may attract God even more.
Father of Compassion, I don’t want to hold grudges. I want You to help the ones who persecute me and set them free. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ reads my heart—He will give it compassion!
MATTHEW 5:44_do good to them that hate you…
How can you do good to them that hate you? It may be pretty much the same way you do to those who like you. Begin with prayer. Talk with God. Ask Him to give you an opportunity to do something good to one who has shown contempt toward you.
A good place to begin is to learn their birthdate. If you have their cell number or email just text or mail a simple, “Hey, I heard today is your birthday, I hope you have a happy one.” If you don’t have this information, you may just write a note and leave it on their desk at school.
Keep things simple. Don’t get overly sentimental or mushy with your doing good. They will already feel uncomfortable with your kind response to their obvious contempt. If the devil can convince them to take your good deeds as some kind of plot against them, he will.
Let God do His work. Focus more on listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and looking for opportunities which may come your way.
You certainly want to do them good, but this is also going to do you good … just don’t let pride get in the way.
Mighty God, Please give me opportunities to do good to all the people I can. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ does good to all—He wants me to do that too!
MATTHEW 5:44_But I say unto you, love your enemies…
Jesus continually points out love as an action.
Love requires dedication.
Love requires courage.
Love requires grit to accept rejection, but not be defeated.
Love requires faith in Jesus’ radical teachings to work.
If love requires all this of me, I want my love to go to the one of my choosing. The object of my affection. Here we go again! Jesus messes with my heart and mind when He says love my enemies. I don’t want to love my enemies! They are my enemies! I don’t like them! They cause me pain and suffering. They cause people I love pain and suffering. If God won’t let me seek revenge on them – at least let me hate them!
Besides, there is another problem – I don’t know how to love them. It doesn’t come naturally to me to love people who hurt me or people I love. Jesus asks too much.
In all my moaning and groaning, I use the key (the Bible). It unlocks my spirit, then I can trust in Philippians 4:13 (KJV), “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Lord Jesus, I don’t know how to love my enemies, help me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ strengthens me—I can achieve anything with Him!
MATTHEW 5:43_Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
How “it hath been said,” is your natural inclination. Love who you like, and hate who you don’t. That’s as natural as heat in summer. I won’t say it’s the easy way, because neither of these emotions is easy. Between the two, hate may be the easier. Easy because it is based on self-centered selfishness, which comes naturally. Hate requires no self-sacrifice. Hate thrives on grudge-holding. Just be plain hard-hearted. No open heart surgery necessary.
Hate is deadly. Spiritually, hate places a barrier between your spirit and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Emotionally, it keeps hormones out of sync, fluctuating between rage and depression. Physically, hate is a strong contributor to keep the body from healing itself.
Love is neither natural nor easy. Recovery from The Great Surgeon’s open-heart surgery results in true love. Once you succumb to more of Jesus and less of you, the door opens to The Great Transformer. He fills you with love. You cannot manufacture it on our own. You open the door, Jesus fills you up.
The effects of love in your life spiritually, emotionally, and physically are 180 degrees from the effects of hate.
Loving God, I don’t want to live the easy way. I want to live the loving way. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ always loves—He will teach me!