Be Perfect

  1. Jesus gives His followers several commands. He tells them that being angry with someone is akin to murdering them.
  2. This isn’t making a new law. This is clarifying the law. The Pharisees were big on following the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. Jesus is pointing out to them that the heart behind the action is as important or more important than the action.
  3. Think of the Old Testament cities of refuge. If you murdered someone with hate in your heart, you were to be killed in return, but if it had been an accident, then you were given a way of escape, a place of refuge. You weren’t held guilty in the same way because you didn’t have hate in your heart. It was the hate that was the evil.
  4. These laws point out the heart of the law, what was behind the rules for those who had been ignoring what had been there for them to see all along.
  5. He tells them that lusting after a woman is the same as committing adultery. He reminds them that divorce was never God’s intention and just leads to further sin.
  6. He reminds them that they aren’t gods and can’t predict nor control the future so they shouldn’t act like they can by making oaths about what they will do.
  7. Then He sums up with a teaching that will become part of what we know as the law of love. Don’t pay back evil with evil. Pay back evil with good. Pray for your persecutors. Bless those who curse. Do good to those who hate you.
  8. Go above and beyond what is ordinary and expected when you show love to others.
  9. The summary of these commands is this: be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.
  10. If you thought the rest of those commands were hard to follow, it just got impossible.
  11. We can’t live righteous lives apart from God. The Pharisees obeyed the letter of the law. There were people, like Elizabeth and Zachariah, who were called blameless. They followed the rules God gave.
  12. But there’s a higher calling. Be perfect.
  13. The only way to fulfill the law of love is to live as love, to no longer live in the selfish flesh, but to live by faith, walking in the Spirit and letting the love and life of Christ live in and through you.