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Perfect Love

John Collins03/10/2012In Matthew 5, Jesus taught a message of Love.  He started by uplifting all of those that were burdened down.

He said the ones with low spirits would have the kingdom of heaven.  Those that mourn would be comforted.  Those that were humble and poor would be rich when they inherited the earth.  Those that hungered and thirsted to be righteous would be filled with righteousness.  Those that were already pure in heart would see God.  Those that made peace would be called the "children of God."

He taught not to worry about being persecuted for believing in His name.  Those who were persecuted for believing in Christ would gain the kingdom of heaven.  When men insult and persecuted them, and said all sorts of bad things about them that weren't true, they should rejoice.  They should be very glad, for their reward in heaven would be very great.  

Jesus said that the prophets of old were also persecuted before them.  He gave an example of salt, calling these that were persecuted for His name sake the "salt of the earth."  If the salt lost its taste, who would use it to spread on their meals?  It becomes good for nothing, cast aside, and walked on by the feet of men.

Jesus also used an example of light.  These that are persecuted are the "light of the world."  They are a great city set upon a hill that cannot be hid from the eyes of men.  Men do not light their candles and put them under something to hide the light -- they put them on a candlestick to raise it up and give light to all that are in the house.  He said that we should let our lights shine in this way before men so that they can glorify our good works and glorify the Father which is in heaven.

Jesus said not to make the mistake that he came to earth to destroy the law or the prophets that taught the law.  He was there to fulfill the law.  Not one little marking of the law would be removed until the laws and the prophesies were fulfilled.

He said that if any one broke even the least of the commandments, and teach others to do the same, they would be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  But, if anyone keep the commandments and teach them to others, they will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  He warned them, if their righteousness did not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, they would not even enter into heaven.

He started giving examples of love and respect towards others as the way to honor the commandments.  He said that in the old days, they were told not to kill.  If anyone killed another, they would be in danger of the judgement.  Jesus warned them:  "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.  Whosoever shall call his brother "worthless" would be in danger of the council.  Whosoever shall call his brother a fool shall be in danger of hell fire."  Therefore, Jesus said, they should not bring their gifts to the offering at the alter while they held something against their brother.  They should first go and reconcile their brother, and then come to the alter with their gifts.

He said that they should agree with their adversaries quickly while they speak to them.  Otherwise, the adversary could deliver them to the judge -- who would deliver them to the officer to be cast into prison.  Jesus said that they would in no means come out of the prison until they had paid the largest sum of money.

He said that they had heard in the old times that they should not commit adultery.  Jesus said that whoever looked at a woman and wanted her had already committed adultery within his heart.  

He gave examples of their bodies as ways to purify themselves and stop the things they were doing wrong.  He said that if their right eye was looking at something it should not, they should pluck it out and throw it away.  If their right hand was doing something that it should not, they should cut it off and throw it away.  It would be better for one of the members of their body to be removed than the whole body be cast into hell.

He said that they had allowed divorcement letters to allow men to put away their wives.  He warned them that any one of them that divorces their wives except for fornication had caused the woman to commit adultery, and any man that married one that was divorced had committed adultery.

He said that they had heard in the old times that they should promise nothing of themselves, but instead should promise by the Lord.  Jesus said to promise nothing by heaven, because it is God's throne.  They should promise nothing by earth, because it is God's footstool.  They should not promise anything by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  They should not make promises towards themselves, because they could not turn one hair of their head black or white by themselves.  Instead, their communication should be "yes" or "no."  Anything more they offer as promise becomes evil.

He spoke to them about fighting with one another.  He said that they had heard "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but he warned them that they should resist evil.  Any one that strikes them on the right cheek should turn the other cheek to let their adversary strike it as well.  If any man sued them by law and takes away their coat, they should let him have their cloak as well.

He said that we should give freely to those that ask.  From any that would borrow from us, we should not turn them away.

Jesus reminded them that they had heard that it was good to love their neighbors and hate their enemies, but he said this was not correct.  They should love their enemies and bless those that would curse them.  They should do good things for those that hated them, and pray for those that despitefully use them or persecute them.  If they did this, they would be the children of the Father in heaven.  He makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain to the just and the unjust.

Jesus asked them: if you only love those that love you back, what reward do you have?  Even the publicans do the same!  If they only welcome their brothers, what are they doing that is showing greater love than others?  Don't the publicans do the same?

Instead, we should become more perfect in Love, just as the Father in heaven is perfect.
As Christians, we should ask ourselves:  Are we guilty of persecuting other Christians who believe in the same Christ we do?  Do we stay downcast in our burdens, when we are the ones that will inherit the earth?  Do we insult or say things that aren't true about other Christians?  Has our salt lost its taste and are we hiding our lights?  Do we become easily angered at our brothers?  Do we love our enemies?  Do we give freely to those in our communities that are in need?  Do we love only those that love us back?  Do we have perfect love?