Daily Reading: Genesis 15, 16, 17; Matthew 5:31-48
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.“ (Matthew 5:48, NASB95)
This concludes Jesus’ teaching on the higher standard to which He calls His disciples.
- The religious leaders had lessened the requirements of God and set themselves up as examples.
- Jesus restores the true place of God’s word as the standard for God’s people (Matt. 5:17-19), stating, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20). Being perfect in the same way that our heavenly Father is perfect is a very high standard indeed.
- Jesus prepared us for this high calling by identifying His disciples as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16).
In Matt. 5:21-47, Jesus gives six examples of teaching from the OT where His interpretation and application surpass that of the religious leaders. The law is based in God’s character, and therefore fulfilling the law means to act in a way that reflects Him. The characteristics of the beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) are developed with practical, livable examples. Having a good heart means living it out in our relationships with God and other people. Turner (2008) explains, “All six of the areas addressed by Jesus call for perfection or modeling of the Father’s character. One can do no better than imitate the Father.” (p. 177) This is being salt and light. Perfection does not refer to absolute sinlessness, but to the character of God that He is working in His submitted children. Where do you get the standard for your life? Is it the perfection of the Father? How does your life show you to be living as salt and light?