43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
DRINK IT IN:
Who do you consider your enemy? When was the last time you prayed for him/her/them? The Bible has a section written by the Apostle Paul, its Romans chapter 12:9-21 (NLT). Please take the time to read the passage and pay special attention to what Paul says we should do with our enemies.
“9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the LORD.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:9-21 (NLT)
I must confess that it frustrates me that Paul actually wrote and challenges us to, not only pray for our enemies, but pray that God will bless them.”
How hard is that?
PRAY THAT GOD WILL BLESS MY ENEMY? (Paul…are you out of your mind?)
I think you will agree with me that God’s number one concern here is not that my enemy would be blessed. His number one concern, in this occasion, is my heart’s, and your heart’s condition. When our hearts are full of anger, hate, revenge, and darkness, it affects our whole life. When our hearts are filled with hurt and darkness, its very difficult for us to be the kind of people that God created us to be. God wants us to pray for our enemies and pray that they will be blessed so it heals our hearts and helps us be whole. The reality is probably this, you have been thinking about your enemy way more than you would like to. Your enemy is probably not thinking about you much at all. So, when you are continually thinking about your enemy, you are actually allowing your enemy to live rent free inside your head, heart and mind on a continual basis. Its no cost to your enemy that you are thinking about them as often as you do. The more you think about your enemy, the more your heart hardens, your attitude darkens and your life gets out of focus.
Paul, says pray that your enemy will be blessed, because that is how your own heart begins to soften, your attitude brightens up and your life gets back in the focus that you and God want it to be. Everything that I am saying here is actually leading up to the very last verse in the Scripture we are meditating on right now. The verse, I’m referring to is Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Perfect? You’ve got to be kidding me! Perfect? I cannot be perfect, and you cannot be perfect. Ever. Right?
It is very frustrating to me that the Bible translators actually translated the word this way. The word really should be translated “Mature” or maybe even better, “Complete.”
The verse reads very different when you replace the word perfect with complete. “You are to be complete like your Father in Heaven is complete.”
When you and I are complete, we need nothing. When we are complete we are full, lacking nothing, fulfilled, whole. Its the “perfect” kind of life we’d like to live. Jesus was complete. Its what allowed Him to go through the torture He went through in His last 18 hours of life as He was whipped, beaten and crucified, and, at the same time, not sin, cuss, fight back, whine, but only offer forgiveness and prayer for His enemies.
While He was being taken advantage of, publicly, and in a humiliating way, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” He could only do this because He needed nothing in His life, but more of the Father in Heaven. Jesus was full. Jesus was complete. Jesus was lacking nothing. Jesus was perfect. Jesus didn’t define Himself by anything except what the Father in Heaven said and believed about Him.
Do you see how perfect and complete go together in this setting.
If you and I only define ourselves based on what the Father in Heaven believes and says about us, it will change how we live our lives. You and I would be able to look our enemy in the eye and walk away from their dysfunction and hurt instead of stick around and fight for something that won’t fulfill us anyway. If you are full, and thus, take your life’s definition based off of what Jesus believes about you, then it doesn’t matter to you what other people say or do to you. You are full. You are complete. Its perfect!
When you are like this, you are able to live your days helping others understand that they can be full, complete and perfect. This is the way to the fulfilled life.
SWEAT IT OUT:
What is it that you need in your life right now?
Do you really need it? Do this test to determine if you really need it…(stand next to a starving child in Africa and tell this child that you need it?)
What do you need to do to fully understand and believe what God says about you? Do you need to read your Bible more and understand that Jesus was the gift that allowed you to live? Do you recognize that Jesus’ death was God’s way of saying He loves you, and all the people of the world, more than anything else? Do you need to make the decision that Jesus loves you and its His love for you that defines you?
When your life is right with God, you can live needing nothing. You can be content. You can be full. Your life and mine are very short. Think about what you were doing just 10 years ago. Seems like it was just yesterday. My life and yours are but a vapor. Here today and gone tomorrow. There is nothing we can do about that, other than live a “perfect” life.
The things you worry about, the people whom hate you, the problems you face. Yes, they are frustrating, but are they worth all the trouble we allow them to bring in our lives? No. Start doing whatever is necessary to break free from these frustrating things. The first thing, you must start doing to accomplish this, is begin to pray that God will bless your enemy. Pray that God will use the problems you face to make you a better a person. Pray that God will use the circumstances, that cause you to worry, to make you trust Him more, so you won’t worry about them anymore.
God is in control of all things. You either believe that and act like it or you don’t. Do your actions verify that you really do believe that God is in control? Even in the middle of total tragedy, God is in control. Even in the middle of the worst thing that has happened to you, God can turn it for good, if you will work with Him by trying.
Someday you will join Jesus and look Him in eyes and nothing else will matter. Start living that way now. Make the decision to be full.
You can be perfect. Jesus commands you to be perfect. When you get this and live it out, you will be acting like true children of the Father in Heaven. Our world, that is so separated from God, needs to see the lives of the true children of God being lived out before their very eyes. You can be this to the world. This would make you perfect, in the sense that Jesus means perfect. This would make you complete!
Puts a new meaning to, “You complete me!”
Nobody can do that for you, but Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings.