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.
It is often said by those who are far from God, “I don’t see any real difference between the words/actions/attitudes of my friend who never attends church, and another friend who professes to be a Christian and attends church regularly.” Jesus actually made a similar observation in the Sermon on the Mount. How many times have you made that observation among the circle of contacts you enjoy on a daily basis?
In today’s Scripture passage Jesus notes that even pagans know how to be kind and courteous (loving) to those who are kind and courteous to them. But Jesus challenges His followers to do more than extend everyday common courtesies to those who are kind and loving to us. For if that is all we do, He asks this disturbing question: “What are you doing more than others?” In other words, your behavior is not any better those who don’t profess to be His followers. And in some cases, perhaps it isn’t even as loving!
As followers of Christ, Jesus not only calls us to love one another, but to love even those who might be considered as enemies. Yet, He sets the bar even higher when He says in vs. 48, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In other words, strive in every relationship to love as God loves. Jesus knows we cannot perform perfectly, but he nonetheless calls us to continually strive to this kind of love towards others, not being content to simply love those who love us in return.
As you examine your own heart and life, could it be that someone would observe or say of you, “I can’t tell any difference between you and my pagan friends.” Ask God to give you His help, by way of His Holy Spirit, enabling you to “do more than others” in loving the people around you, and demonstrating Christ-like words, actions and deeds.
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Pray for these churches:
Covenant of Grace Christian Church
First United Methodist Church of Bronson