Thursday, September 6, 2007
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:43-48 (NIV)
Wow how can we be perfect if human nature is sinful? The word used in this passage is the Greek word teaelos which means ended or complete according to the Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible. The devotional I am reading right now says that it means mature. So in the context of this scripture, we aren't called to be with out flaws but we are to love maturely, the way God loves.
Well the most glaring difference I can see that separates God's kind of loving verses man's version of love is that God loves unconditionally. We don't have to live up to man-made standards that we set for ourselves or that others impose on us. We need to resist imposing them on others as well. We just need to love others no matter what they do or say.
That is easier said than done, but it is no less than God does for us. God sent his only Son Jesus, who never sinned to die in our place so that we may be forgiven of our sins. Jesus died in our place while we were still sinners. He didn't wait until we straightened up and started acting like He wanted us to act. He died while we were sinners. That is the ultimate expression of unconditional love.
I must confess that I struggle in this area. It is so easy to love the easy to love people, and I think I can love people who rub me the wrong way, but do I? My first thought usually is selfish. Then I feel conviction, then I may or may not do the right thing. When will I come to the point that my first thought is unconditional, unselfish love? When will I become dedicated to pray for those whom I have conflict with? When will my faith become strong enough so that I can only see Jesus and His love for me which enables me to love others maturely? It seems some days that I will never learn, other days I think, "Hey I am growing!" But I know this, I need you God. You are my Rock, my calm in the midst of the storm and I do trust in You.