Part 2 - Allow God’s Love to Flow Through You to Everyone
All of us here today are created by God. But so is everyone else in the world and we all have something else in common, God shines the sun down on us and sends the rain for all of us no matter how good or bad we might be or whether we love God our creator or don’t even recognize that He exists. God is not obligated to supply us or anyone else with our needs, but He does and it is because of the great love of God that He cares enough for His creation that He kindly blesses us with all that we need.
With that said, because He loves us we should take heed to what Jesus has said here when He shared it with those who listened to Him some 2000 years ago. He said that those who taught the law and those who were leaders said that, yes, we ought to love our neighbor but we ought also hate our enemies! Jesus once again says, “But I tell you…” He has a different slant on this old thought, “Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you and want to hurt you and persecute you!!!” Boy is that radical or what!!! What is He saying?
“By loving and praying for our enemies, we prove our relationship to our Father, show his love in an unlovely world, and overcome evil with good.” Life Application New Testament Commentary.
Jesus wanted His followers not to do what the Pharisees taught but what God has always demanded of those who followed Him, “love all people and not just those who love you.” The Pharisee taught that their neighbor referred to someone of the same nationality and faith. So, hating everyone else was perfectly okay.
I wonder if that is what the lawyer had in mind when he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor is?” (Luke 10:29) Did he think that Jesus might say the wrong thing for the Pharisees to finally catch Him in some problem with what Moses said? Of course, Jesus would never think that it is acceptable to hate someone but He taught them to love all people even those who are: of a different religion or nationality, those who hurt you or hate you. If you love, then you are like God, He loves us all.
What kind of reward do you want to get from God? He is ready to bless you and reward you for your actions toward others and obedience toward Him and what He teaches. So what is your reward? Do you love those who love you or do you love everyone regardless of whether they love you back? Jesus says that those who were the worst in the society loved those who loved them. He said to those listening to Him, “Are you any different from them?” The way you are different is to be like Jesus and not like the ones who only love those who love them.
Jesus may have even thrown another jab, but a harder one at the end, He said, “Do not even the pagans do that.”
The last verse for today says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
“Interpreter's Bible tells us that Christ gives to us His righteousness. And then begins the slow process of sanctification in which God attempts to conform us to the image of His Son. This, of course, should be the goal of every believer. But seeking to attain perfection by our own efforts is absolutely futile.”
Lynn Harold Hough tells a story of a young girl who was quite sure she could climb a mountain. She danced ahead, confident of her strength. But soon the road became a trail, and soon the trail became frowning rocks. She dragged along now, and after a time sank from exhaustion. Then—her father: with his arm to guide and steady her she reached the summit.
“Be ye... perfect: we were never meant to climb that mountain in our own strength. Failure comes to teach us that life is an affair, not of man alone or of man with man, but of man with God and God with man. The word Father is key to the Sermon on the Mount. There the ethic breaks into faith and comradeship. There we find forgiveness and new power—and life's secret meaning. Thus as your Father which is in heaven is perfect sums up the new law and the new life.” Interpreter's Bible, The - Exposition - The Interpreter's Bible – Volume 7.
“The word translated perfect can also be translated “mature” or “full-grown.” Jesus’ followers can be perfect if their behavior is appropriate for their maturity level—perfect yet with much room to grow. The perfection Jesus required of his followers did not include strict and flawless obedience to minute laws. It called, instead, for an understanding of how the law pointed to the heavenly Father who is himself perfect. Those who loved God and desired to follow him would keep his law as he required. They did this, not because they were already perfect, but because they were striving to be perfect, to reflect their Father’s character.” Life Application New Testament Commentary.