“Do what you would have others do to you, for that is the intent of everything taught in the Law and the prophets” (Eyewitness Matthew 7:12).
Eyewitness: p. 67
In Your Bible: Matthew 5:12-48; Luke 6:31-36
Jesus has much to say about righteous behavior. Most of us have been taught the right way. However, it’s best to stop and take each of Jesus’ teachings slowly, rather than reading quickly through them. Jesus repeats kindness, love and mercy several times (also known as the Golden Rule).
Love and Kindness
Jesus reminds hearers of the Levitical teaching – You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (NASB Leviticus 19:18).
Jesus astounds them with a new view: “People usually say, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy, ‘but I say you should show kindness to your enemies, doing good to those who persecute you” (Eyewitness Matthew 5:433,44).
He ends this explanation saying God causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall on everyone. Jesus commands the believer, “Show kindness a God does” (Eyewitness Matthew 5:45b).
God’s Love Is Perfect Love
At the end of Matthew 5, Jesus again commands the believer to be perfect. “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (NASB Matthew 5:48). Wow, is this possible? Yes, Jesus said we can do this by agape love, God’s love within the believer. Ponder this.
That’s not easy to do in difficult times or difficult situations. Jesus makes comparisons many times with his teachings saying, “You have heard it said, but I tell you”. Jesus’ words should change our thought process – how we act or react.
The agape love in us provides the ability of believers’ to be godlike, and someday be the perfection of God. God’s love in us never ceases to care for and love other believers. *
Jesus states this well: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him [Jesus] will not die, but live forever” (Eyewitness John 3:16). Believers’ can have eternal life by the love kindness and benevolence of God through Christ Jesus. Yes, believers are commanded to use the Golden Rule.
Prayer: Father, help me fully understand agape love…your love within me. Then act on it.
Questions: How difficult is it to follow Jesus’ command to show kindness to your enemy? How difficult is it to love your neighbor? Now about perfect. How do you react when Jesus says you can be perfect? Really.
* The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1958, pp. 176-178.