Stop considering the world precious with the result that you love it, and the things in the world. If anyone as a habit of life is considering the world precious and is therefore loving it, there does not exist the love possessed by the Father in him. Because everything which is in the world, the passionate desire of the flesh, and the passionate desire of the eyes, and the insolent and empty assurance which trusts in the things that serve the creature life, is not from the Father as a source but is from the world as a source. And the world is being caused to pass away, and its passionate desire. But the one who keeps on habitually doing the will of God abides forever. – John the Apostle (1 John 2:15-17; An Expanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest)
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
A quick review for the beginning of 2017 is in order for me as I pick up this study/blog. In Matthew 5:48 the word translated perfect is the Greek word teleios. Remember this word does not mean sinless. Recall the word, depending on the grammar, can mean maturity or completeness. We also pointed out that context helps use in understanding a passage. Because this is part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4 and 5) what can we conclude about to whose perfection does this refer to? Clearly the person of Christ is the base line in the Sermon on the Mount and when we apply this command in Matthew 5:48 we are talking about the character of Christ.
As we continue to focus on the process we need to learn and apply the character of Christ. We need to study the life of Christ in the Gospels. We need to study the way of living the Christian life in the Epistles.
Do you want to have the character of Christ and thus be perfect? Is this attainable? Is this commanded? The answer to the last two questions are YES! The first question is a test for you and me. What do you want to accomplish in 2017? I want to move towards maturity. I want to embrace the process which is the fundamental push of The Plow.
The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. (NKJV)
The LORD lifts up the humble. The LORD lifts up the humble because the humble take their proper position before God. The humble in their disposition cast their eyes to the ground because they cannot stand upright in their own strength before the living God. Humble in the Hebrew means poor, oppressed, and afflicted. It is used of persons who rank themselves after others in importance; persons who are not proud, haughty, supercilious, self-assertive, low in rank or position. This describes the man who is poor in spirit. The Lord in His loving grace accepts those who are of this character and desires a relationship with them. These are them who are part of His kingdom.
He casts the wicked down to the ground. In contrast to the Lord lifting up the humble, He casts down the wicked who are proud rather than humble. These proud, due to their wickedness, God brings low because they refuse to see themselves in relation to the Lord – as nothing in themselves. The choice is presented again to us: do we want to have fellowship with the living and loving God in His glorious kingdom or to be cast out from that opportunity and away from His presence? The choice to make is obvious – be poor in spirit.
He takes no pleasure in the legs of man. The strength of man does not impress the Creator of all things in and under heaven. Man has nothing that has not been given to him by his Creator, and thus man cannot boast in his own abilities or from his strength. But that is what the prideful do and what they are taught to do in society our today. Disciples are called to do the opposite; we are called to be poor in spirit.
The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him. What a comforting statement for those who are poor in spirit. God delights in His own, those who see Him in reverence and recognize His holiness and love His glory. Only they who are poor in spirit can truly fear the Lord because they see both themselves and God in reality.
In those who hope in His mercy. The ultimate possession of those who fear the Lord, for the person poor in spirit, is hope, and this hope is in His great mercy. Without His mercy the blessings of God are not available to us. Without mercy life with Him could never be. Without His mercy sinful man is incapable of coming into His presence. Praise the lord for His wonderful mercy.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-3, NKJV)
God’s mercy is the hope for the person who is poor in spirit. Read and meditate upon the following verses that discuss the mercy of God: Genesis 39:21; Exodus 34:5-7; 2 Chronicles 6:14; Psalm 5:7; 13:5; 21:7; 23:6; 25:16; 30:10; 32:10; 33:18; Ephesians 2:4-7; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 4:16; and Jude 21.