Perfect Love: Loving the Unlovable One
Journal Notes: The Possibility of Perfection
When I see "therefore" in a verse, I have learned to read the preceeding verses to discover what the "therefore" is there for.
When I read Matthew 5: 48 alone, my immediate impression is to think it's a command. However, when I read it in the context of the chapter, I'm able to see something more. The first word in Matthew 5: 48, is the word "Therefore". When I see the word "therefore" in a verse, I have learned to read the preceding verses to discover what the "therefore" is there for. So, the last verse in the Matthew chapter 5 is illuminated by the verses preceding it. With that in mind, I take a moment to read Matthew 5: 1-48.
I have no problem understanding the principles Jesus introduces to the multitude in Matthew 5. They are actually relatively uncomplicated ideas that elevate the poor in spirit, peacemakers, the persecuted, and others. He exalted his followers comparing their value to salt and light. Jesus spoke of the Law and the Prophets and compelled his disciples adherence to them. He redefined anger, and increased the penalty for murderous thoughts. The Messiah reinforced the sanctity of marriage and established a new standard realloting love in equal portions between enemies and friends.
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?" Matthew 5: 47
In a very personal way, the "therefore" in verse 48 is there to refocus my mind on the greatest commandments. Loving God with all of our soul, heart, and mind is the first commandment and loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second commandment. The love we use to define our closes and most treasured friendships is the same love Jesus calls us to apply to our enemies or other unlovable people. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and allows His sun to rise on the evil and the good. We can be considered perfect imitators of God when we can love friends and foes without discrimination.
Father, please help me as I strive to live in accordance with your will. I am going to need a boatload of wisdom and love in order to love people who do not love me in return. I'm not even certain that I've witnessed it in my own personal experience. For me, it seems impossible and I'm sure I'm not alone. Lead me as I seek your wisdom and guidance each day.
I certainly cannot offer a final and difinitive answer but here is what I am led to consider. Perfection is only possible when we become perfect imitators of our heavenly Father. Our mortal births make it impossible for us to perfectly immitate Him. If this was the end of the conversation, then it would lead us to conclude that perfection is indeed impossible for us. But the conversation continues.
Questions to Consider (Click Here to Email Your Responses)
Read more next Wednesday.