Have you noticed that Jesus looks beyond the surface? Jesus seems to have this deep value of people having integrity. He apparently wanted his followers to have lives that were integrated, the outside matching the inside. As I ponder the various commnads from Matthew 5 that ends with “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly is perfect.” He said this in light of people needing to love their enemies (Matt 5:43-48).”
“All you need to say is simply, ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt 5:37)”
Basically, Jesus is saying, “Yo, loving well looks like someone who says what they mean and means what they say.”
We live in a world where everyone lives by “do what I say, no what I do.” The Jesus way is way more concerned about how we live than what we say about what we’re going to do.
Jesus’ way is one of love and we make this way more difficult than it needs to be.
It feels like a lot. But, I look around and I see so many people who do this so well. They simply put others first and choose the way of love as opposed to the way of self-centeredness. They seemingly do so without thinking, it’s just second nature.
To love the way Jesus loved requires us to have integrated lives where our internal and external lives match up.
The disciples never had to wonder where they stood with Jesus. He loved perfectly. He was authentic, honest, compassionate, empathetic, kind, truthful, and gracious. The list could go on. Often, I roll my eyes at the disciples (and Peter in particular) because of some of the silly questions that they asked. But, how beautiful is it that they felt the freedom to ask these questions? They knew Jesus would respond with love.
The ultimate expression of whether or not we are living truly integrated lives is whether or not we are perfect in our love. This is ultimately displayed by how we treat our enemies.
“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 children 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 own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
To not simply be like God, but to be perfect, we must love our enemies.
As I look at my own heart, I’m really struggle with this. I’m far from perfect. I don’t love my enemies well at all. Oh sure, I give lip service, but my heart attitude is not very often in line with my words. Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22,
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
What is going on inside us, is just as problematic as what we do. I want to be someone who is pursuing perfection in love. I want my words, my actions, and my heart to be in loving alignment.
The Jesus way is the way of love.
What’s the honest assessment of your love?