The Process of Forgiving – Part VI
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
Key Verse: Matthew 5:44
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.
Continuing from yesterday’s devotional, imagine someone that you trust saying to you “to follow Jesus perfectly, there is really only one lesson to learn”. What would you think?
I am afraid that most of us would doubt the truth of that statement, especially if your parents raised you in church. I must admit, growing up in the church and having been a pastor for over forty years, I naturally think that following Christ has several pages of discipleship lessons to learn.
Of course, we can learn to follow Jesus better by attending to Bible study and listening to preachers. But here is a truth that I wish that I had preached on more than I did: every lesson you can every learn about Jesus leads you back to the Golden Rule and the basic truth of Matthew 7:12:
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets”.
I cannot think of one of Jesus’s teachings that doesn’t bring you back to the Golden Rule. In one way or another, the essence of all that Jesus taught comes down to treating others like we want others to treat us. Do not make following Jesus more complicated that it really is, just follow the Golden Rule!
Does God follow the concept that we call the Golden Rule? Of course, He does. He treats us like He wants people to treat Him. And He does it perfectly. We will never reach that level of perfection!
Again, God does not demand perfection from us because He understands our humanness. However, God does expect us to want this perfection in our hearts, without reservation. I believe that is the meaning of Matthew 5:44:
“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”.
We know and God knows that no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, we are not perfect in our outward performances.
But I believe I am perfect in my inner Spirit. In my inner Spirit, I want to walk perfectly with Jesus. That desire has never changed from the day I said “yes” to Jesus, some 55 years ago, until today!
I always feel bad when I see how far I come up short in performing perfectly what I know about Jesus’s teachings. The fact that I feel bad reminds me that the Spirit of God is me, and this helps me get up the next morning and keep trying to be perfect in every way! I hope you feel that way. If you do, keep up the good work of your salvation. (Philippians 2:12).
Father, I am so grateful for Your mercies to me that are new each day. Remind me to live out the Golden Rule today. In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.