Matthew 5:43-48 The Message (MSG)
Grow up! Have you ever had a spiritual temper tantrum? You may be saying, “Pastor Mary, I would never…!” In reality, we can all act like spiritual babies who get “crazy” when we don’t get our way or understand what God is doing in our lives. You and I will never control God, so when we try and fail our response may be to have a fit, get mad and blame somebody else, or try to justify our poor love walk. While we engage in such actions, the Spirit of God is whispering in our spirits, “My child, I love you, but it’s time to grow up!”
Spiritual maturity is not about perfect behavior; although, we should be growing in Christ’s love and character every day. Maturity is more about our devotion to God and the priority we give the work of the Spirit in our hearts. It is learning to obey the Living Word against the swift current of culture. It is patiently enduring challenging spiritual seasons knowing the Lord is working in our behalf to grow our faith, as well as certain aspects of our character. The heart of every spiritually mature person reveals his or her overwhelming desire to please God; a hunger for divine fellowship and a commitment to be tightly held by God’s loving and righteous hand.
In his Sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus paints a vision of spiritual maturity. The crowds have gathered around Jesus; his disciples have come to sit at his feet as he prepares to teach some countercultural aspects of Kingdom Living. Jesus uses the written Law to reveal what God actually said, as well as points out what humanity has added to justify a lousy love walk. Jesus brings the people back to the Truth and reveals to them a God of mercy who is gracious and generous to the world, but expects His children to Grow up!
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Prayer: Lord, spiritual maturity is built by the things that actually challenge your children. Help me to cooperate with the building process, because I know you are helping me to see things from your perspective. My heart is to please and obey you; help me grow up. In Jesus’ name. Amen.