Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The sign of Maturity (Matthew 5:43-48)

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48 KJV)

That's a lot of verses for an evening post, but I've had these verses on my mind. When I stopped to read them in the King James Version of my childhood, I saw something new and thought it was worth sharing. 

Odd though it may be, I'm starting in the last verse in this section and working backward. The Greek word translated as "perfect" here is teleios, which means lacking in nothing or fully matured. The word for therefore can also mean "consequently".  Putting the previous verses together with this one, we find that Jesus told His listeners to love their enemies and do good to those who "despitefully use you".  I've experienced a little of that "despitefully using" business, and I am not at all interested in another dose of it. That does not, however, change what Jesus had to say. The "despitefully user" people are supposed to get a hefty dose of my good-doing. Why? Because that's what God does. 

Consequently, (since you understand this truth) be fully matured and act like God does, even to the people who are not good to you. In the vernacular of the South, put your big girl (or big boy) britches on, do what needs to be done, and do it God's way!  One of the hallmarks of the mature Christian is the way we treat those who have hurt us, especially when they are in need. 

I fully recognize that a large percentage of our population would see a "despitefully user person" in their hour of need and opt to give them a dose of their own medicine. For the believer, however, that is not one of our options. First of all, there is no reward in that. Second of all, God is not glorified. 

You may never encounter the situation in which you have the opportunity to respond to one who has hurt you in your time of need, especially when their time of need arrives, but you probably will. Decide now to make the choice that brings blessings and demonstrates the kindness of God toward those who have been the least likely recipients of grace. Be a grown up! It's the perfect way to be!