Friday, February 3, 2017
Not every Christian may want to admit it but there are certain bible verses which can trouble us or at least make us feel more than slightly uncomfortable. Although it no longer does it, here is one that used to have that effect on me: Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) The reason those words bothered me a bit was that, like many other bible readers, “perfect” to me meant sinless. Mostly, the original Greek word used meant “completion” or coming to a complete state. The word was also used to describe an adult or mature person.
Additionally, in it’s entire context, Jesus was speaking about loving our enemies. (vss. 43-48) If we go back a few more verses in this same discourse, (vss. 38-42) we saw where Jesus reminded His listeners of the false interpretation many of them had heard previously by the teachers of the law, which was basically an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. That false teaching would give us an excuse to go with our basic human tendency which is to pay back our enemies in kind. Jesus, on the other hand, was reminding His listeners that God’s love in our hearts should easily prevail over our old nature, because with God all things are possible.
Concerning our being perfect, the great 19th Century bible commentator, Adam Clarke, wrote: “"But who can bring a clean out of an unclean thing?" God Almighty - and, however inveterate the disease of sin may be, the grace of the Lord Jesus can fully cure it.” Let me add this: Jesus also said on many occasions: “sin no more.” Do you really think that He did not know that we were still going to sin after hearing these words? In fact, because He did, He made provision for it, beginning at the cross of Calvary. Does this mean that God now gives us a license to sin and that we should no longer try to be perfect? By no means. What our opening text means to me is that the Lord wants us to always try to be more like Him and not like we used to be before Jesus came into our lives. We may never really be perfect on this side of Heaven, but if we really love and want to honor the One who loves us the most, shouldn’t we at least make a sincere effort?
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 119:2) “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.”