Tuesday, November 30, 2021
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
-Matthew 5:43-48 The Message
Verse 43: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
Verse 44: But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Verse 45: so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Verses 43-44 studies: By telling us not to be revengeful, this is why Jesus tells us ways to prevent taking the law into our hands. By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.
The Pharisees interpreted Leviticus 19:18 as teaching that they should love only those who love in return. Psalm 139:19-22 and 140:9-11 as meaning to hate their enemies. Jesus reminds us to love our enemies. If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will indeed show that Jesus is Lord of your life. This is possible only to those who give themselves entirely to God because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness. Trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love.
Verse 46: For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same?
Verse 47: And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same?
Verse 48: Therefore, you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Verse 48 study: How can we be perfect?
- In character: We can’t be flawless in this life, but we can be like Christ.
- In holiness: We should separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. We are to be devoted to God’s desires rather than our own and carry out his love and mercy into the world.
- In maturity: We can’t achieve Christlike character and holy living simultaneously, but we should grow towards wholeness and maturity. We expect different behavior from a baby, child, teenager, and adult. Likewise, God expects different behavior from us, depending on our stage of spiritual development.
- In love: We can seek to love others as completely as God loves us.
We can be perfect if our behavior is appropriate in our maturity level, perfect with much room to grow. Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls for his disciples to excel, rise above mediocrity, and mature in every level becoming in him. Those who work to become perfect will be perfect one day, even as Christ is perfect (1 John 3:2-3).
Father, being perfect is something I will never admit to. Practicing it is another conversation. In this lesson, it is encouraged to practice being perfect in your name. The tools are here, and we should be able to perform. Let us use this study for growth and more love the world need. In Jesus’ name. Amen.