Most of Jesus’ teachings crush before they encourage, and lead to despair before leading to delight. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Try to be perfect like God.” Being perfect is a must in God’s kingdom not an option. There is a standard that we must achieve, and that standard is God’s standard: pure and utter holiness. For everyone out there that says, “We’re all human!” You are correct, but that still doesn’t exempt us from the holiness we are called to. God is God; He makes the rules.
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Jesus doesn’t give teachings like these for us to try harder but rather to crush us by their impossible demands (You might re-read that sentence again). The law was designed to show us the weight of our sin, the natural state of our wicked hearts, and to show us our utter need of grace. Only in this place of humility will we be able to rejoice in Christ for His costly grace. “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When you feel burdened and crushed by God’s Word, remember 2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus was crushed so that we no longer have to be. So how are you and I going to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? Only through the finished work of Jesus the Christ.
Rest and Rejoice!
By nature, I’m not what you would call a “blogger.” When I wrote my first blog post, I think my arrogance had me think that people would quickly latch on to my irresistible wisdom -that didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t shared any of my thoughts through this WordPress account in quite some time. The Holy Spirit has his ways of teaching God’s people humility and dependence. Through his help I’ve come to realize that my best thoughts are always someone else’s which is why it is freeing for me to write this post. God’s desire isn’t to have great pastors, songwriters, authors, and missionaries -God’s desire is to make his name great through His followers. “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3b Emphasis Added).
I’m beginning to see that the light suffering that comes my way isn’t God’s punishment for the sin in my life -that would be living by karma, not grace (by the way, anything better than Hell is a gift of grace). God allows us to stagger through the desert so we can learn how to be dependent upon Him. In the desert our proud, independent spirit becomes helpless and thirsty, we feel the weight of our needs and cry for help, the dry heat of our circumstances has us thirsting for nothing less than the presence of God, and before you know it we are praying like David.
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
in the midst of bitter circumstance, God’s fellowship is sweet. When you find yourself in the desert, look for the Wellspring of life: Jesus.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
I don’t know if that verse falls heavy on you or not, but it sure does me. To “treasure” something simply means “This is where you place your highest value.” In knowing that we can say, “Whatever it is that you place highest value in, ‘there your heart will be.'” Alright, now lets look at the meaning of the word “heart” in the second part of the verse. According to Dictionary.com someone’s heart is “the center of [their] total personality.” So if the definitions I gave for the words “treasure” and “heart” are correct then we can rightly say, “Whatever you place highest value in, there the center of your total personality will be also.”
All that being said, where is it that you spend your time, energy, money? If it’s not spent on Jesus, then you’re simply not finding your highest value in Him. Read these words from David, known to be a man after God’s own heart, as you take a minute to let the Holy Spirit examine your own heart:
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26 ESV)
Jesus paid too high a price for our half-hearted lip service. Lets remember the death and resurrection of Jesus that a new song might rise in our hearts!