A journey to true Christian character.
By Adrian Simmons
What did Jesus mean in Matthew when he proclaimed “Be Ye Perfect”? The scripture in reference is Matthew 5:48 where He says “Be Ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.”
This scripture is preceded by two verses that propose the meaning behind this statement. Matthew 5:46-47 states these words “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”
Many in today’s age don’t know what a publican is, but the simplest explanation of “publican” is to say it is a tax collector. Tax collectors at the time of these statements were considered supremely dishonest and often held in high regard their own well being before anything else.
So why did Jesus tell his own people to love those that were generally considered to be oppressive and dishonest? Even more, what does have to do with being perfect as Jesus was perfect? And if Jesus really was God in flesh, how could we get anywhere near to approaching the archetype of perfection He was?
As is very typical, God supplied us the answer to this question in His Word. If we turn to 1 John 4:16-17 we read, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”
The basic foundation of Christian character according to the Savior is that we love one another as He has loved us. This requires that we also love those who have hurt us in our past, or maybe even in our present.
If they are opposite of you politically, love them.
If they do things that are against your beliefs, love them.
If they hurt you in the past, love them.
The thing should make Christians different from any other group of people is how we are to love people. We should not be known by any modesty or dress standard that might be held, because any person with a body can dress modestly. It should not be the way we talk, any person could choose not to curse. The only thing that can make a human being truly perfect is Jesus, and he is the purest form of benevolence and love that could ever exist.
Without the love that we are supposed to give and receive, our beliefs mean nothing. Akin to love for thy neighbor is love for God and he said if we loved Him we would do our best to hold to His commandments, not the commands of the Pharisees but His commands, and His primary command is to love in a way that gives completely of ourselves. This is the core of who we should be as Christians. He said “if you’ve done it to the least of these you’ve done it unto me.” That means that what we do on earth to the people surrounding us, God takes that offense personal enough to attribute those afflictions to himself.