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Matthew 5: 48

Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What a crazy thing for Jesus to say! Has he met me? Jesus had many crazy things to say. Having been brought up hearing many of his statements, we are somewhat less shocked, but imagine being in a crowd hearing him make that statement for the first time. Even equating us in any way with the heavenly Father was heresy.

How about this one, verse 22, “You have heard . . . You shall not commit murder . . . but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty.” Jesus even said condemning another as a fool was enough to warrant punishment in fiery hell. What do you think of that? Can you imagine seeing Jesus publicly deliver this message? He also said that a man who looks at a woman with lust in his heart is guilty of adultery.

Jesus came teaching a different way. The people of his time did not know what to do with him. I wonder if we have caught up to his teachings any better than they. The ideas are outlandish. The key, though, is that Jesus did not teach willpower. He did not attempt to alter people’s actions as much as he wanted to alter their hearts. You see in the example of adultery and murder that there were no guilty acts. Jesus was speaking about the condition of one’s heart. He isn’t teaching us today about governing our actions. Instead, Jesus is talking about being one with the Father in our spirit selves. If our hearts are perfect towards God, sin will not be a problem. There will be no murder, but that isn’t the big point, I don’t believe, that Jesus is making.

He wants our hearts to be perfect towards God. He was showing humanity a new way to live. No longer was humankind to be bound to a set of laws, religiously following the words and admonitions. Instead, Jesus called people into a relationship with God the Father. Even his continued reference to God Almighty, as Father, irked many. In these passages, Jesus taught that what is in a person’s heart is more important than their rigorous adherence to laws and principles. Even if one had the willpower to refrain from temptation, their heart could still be corrupt. Jesus came teaching for us to join our hearts to God. He wants us to get our hearts right, to clean up the inside and as we do, he would have us draw nearer and nearer to our Father.

Perhaps this does not sound like radical teaching today. Still, we may be challenged to live with our hearts open before God, our lives intertwined with Him. I hope this passage encourages you to draw closer to Yahweh with the passion of your heart. When we go before Him do you think He will weigh our actions, our righteous deeds or will He instead weigh our hearts. Will He look to see His fingerprints throughout our lives and an invitation from us for Him to live within the very fabric of our spirits? I think Father will not be that impressed with our deeds, whether evil or good for our good deeds weigh very little and even our “sins” are not weighty in His eyes for they are absorbed in the blood of the one who is worthy. Our hearts, however, that is the one thing that He has no control over. I believe He will judge how willing we were and are to give our hearts to Him, how willing we are to invest our love in trusting Him and believing in Him. He will see whether we longed for Him or if we only held down a pew.

Let this be a word of encouragement. You do not have to be the most learned theologian. You do not need to be able to quote Bible passages. When you stand before God, you will be able to give Him the one thing that He values most, your love.

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