Tag Archives: the book of Matthew

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48, NIV)

God expects His children — every one of them — to be as He is.

If it is otherwise, either God is wrong for expecting something of us that we are incapable of achieving; or we do not have His “DNA” and God is lying when He claims paternity.

Today’s scripture verse follows Jesus’ command — with explicit examples — to love our enemies.  It is difficult to love our enemies because love is very personal.  We crave it only from those who matter to us; and we give it only to those we deem worthy.

To love as God loves is the litmus test of our progress toward divine perfection.  Succeed at this one thing, and everything else we do falls into place.  Fail at this one thing, and nothing else we do (no matter how spiritual or sacrificial) matters.

The Gospel of John reminds us that “God so loved the world (the same “world” that would abuse and murder His only begotten Son) that God, nevertheless, gave. . .”  (John 3:16).

When a person accepts the way of Jesus, the Spirit of God is seal of God’s paternity.  The Spirit is the power to be perfect as our Father is perfect.  The Spirit is the strength to love.

It is not easy but, with God, it is possible — and expected.  – Luther

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“He (Jesus) said to them (the demons), ‘Go!’  So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.  Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.  Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”  (Matthew 8:32-34, NIV)

As disciples of Jesus, we must apprehend the fact (and resist its seduction, at the same time) that in this world, possessions, power, and money are valued more highly than people.

We see this clearly in today’s scripture, the context of which is the healing of two demon-possessed men by Jesus.  In their deranged state, these two men were terrors of the town, and lived among the tombs.  People avoided all contact with the pair.

By his healing act, Jesus returned these men to society, to their families and friends; and removed the “town terrors.”  He ordered the demons into a herd of pigs.  In the culture of that day, pigs were considered unclean. Their purpose was to consume refuse.  They were not highly-valued.

You would think the townspeople would be happy with the report of those who were tending the pigs, but they were far from happy.  The town went, en mass, to Jesus to ask him to leave. Money/Power/Stuff: 1  People: 0.

While we may be discouraged because the value of humanity is discounted the way that it is by those in this world; we should be encouraged by the fact that with God, the people that He created and for whom Christ died are always — always — preferred to the lure of money; the pull of power; and the seductions of possessions.

We follow in the steps of our heavenly Father when we, too, choose the eternal potential of people over the passing value of all of the things we cannot keep.  – Luther

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“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

Jesus says that you and I are the light of the world.  This is not aspirational, as in a state to which you and I should aspire.  It is a fact.

We may, through disobedience, dim our light’s brightness, but we have no say in where we are placed.  That is God’s prerogative.  He may place us in unusual and challenging places.  Places where, were it our choice, we would never go.

It should cheer us to know that God has entrusted the illumination of the world to us.  By our good deeds God is glorified.

Do good and shine wherever you are today.  God has not made us the light to hide us under a bowl.  He has made us light to illuminate the world.  – Luther

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