Summary: What does Jesus mean when he said: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect?” Matthew 5:48
Is Perfect Love Possible?
What does Jesus mean when he said: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect?”
To answer this question are going to look at three different aspects of God’s love.
1. Understanding God’s Love.
2. God’s love is lived out in our relationships.
3. God gives us His love to share with others.
I. Understanding God’s Love.
To correctly understand God’ love requires that we have an adequate view of God. If God’s love is conditional we’re all in trouble.
In 2006 a sociologist at Baylor University released a study done by the Gallup organization that identified four views people had of God.
31.4 % believe in an “Authoritarian God”. God is angry at humanity’s sins.
23 % believe in a “Benevolent God” who is forgiving and accepting of anyone who repents.
16% believe in a “Critical God” who his judgment eye on the world, but he’s not gong to intervene, either to punish or comfort
24.4 % believe in a “Distant God” who is more of a “cosmic force that launched the world then left it spinning on its own.”
We need to understand that God’s love is unconditional. Jesus accepts us just as we are.
William Barkley tells the story of a young boy who is seated by his dad in worship and attempting to stay awake. As he is nodding off, out of the corner of his eye he sees his father abruptly raise his arm. He braced himself thinking his father was going to hit him. To his pleasant surprise his father put his arm around him, drew him close and looked down and winked at him. The boy said, “I say my father in a different light that day and went to sleep in his arms.”
It’s just like God to wrap His arms round us to protect us. God’s love reaches out to us to forgive us and put our feet on the path of righteousness. “God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
We don’t love God out of fear. We love God because He first loved us. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:18-19)
Because God is Love He cannot act contrary to love. We cannot afford to give up on God’s love. To give up on love leads to hate.
There are three terms for love in the Greek New Testament:
• Storge - __________________ This word is used to express family affection and love.
• Philla - ____________________ - is Friendship and personal brotherly love.
• Agape __________________ - Spiritual love and selfless, unconditional love. This is the Greek word for love used in I Corinthians 13:1-3.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:48 that perfect love is possible. “Be...perfect even as your Father.... in heaven isperfect.” Perfect love is living like Jesus lived. Perfect love is giving forgiveness without demanding or expecting anything in return.
The scriptures do not teach sinless perfection. As long as we are in our human body we are imperfect in wisdom, imperfect in knowledge, imperfect in judgment, but we can be perfect in love. We can love God with all our heart, mind and soul and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said this is the greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38
The Apostle John challenges us to live like Jesus without compromise in a world of compromise. “As we live in God, our loved grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence, because we are like Christ here in this world.” I John 4:17
To understand God’s love is to listen to what the Apostle Paul says about love in I Corinthians: “God is patient, God is kind, God never gives up, God’s love lasts forever.”
We sometimes sing: “The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell, It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell; The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.”
“Could we with ink the ocean fill And were the skies of parchment made, We’re every stalk on earth a quill And every scribe by trade, To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry, Nor could the scroll contain the whole To stretched from sky to sky.”
“O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forever more endure – The saints’ and angels song.” Frederick M Lehman