If you asked 100 people what a perfect life looked like, what answers would you expect? And if you asked the same people how they could get a perfect life, what would they say? Will a perfect life just come to us? Will working hard get us there? Or do we have to take it?
Some might think that fate or karma will bring them good. And more might believe that determination will get you where you want to be, that “if you have a go, you will get a go.” But if we look carefully at how our world works, we’ll see that good ideas are overlooked and hard work isn’t rewarded. So, it seems that we won’t get ahead unless we push ourselves forward.
Instead of thinking of others, we find ourselves asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’
Instead of choosing what’s best for everyone, we say, ‘What do I deserve?’
And instead of asking, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’, we think, ‘What can I get away with?’
When we think and act like that, we’re saying that the only way to get ahead is to trample over others. And what do we find when we get there? It’s lonely at the top. That idea of the perfect life is all around us. But it doesn’t add up.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us what a perfect life is like: It’s living as citizens of His Kingdom (v1-12). It starts when we realise that we’re spiritually poor (v3), that we can never provide the right relationship with God that we desperately need (v6). And Jesus promises that, if that’s us, then the Kingdom of Heaven is ours and His righteousness will satisfy every spiritual need we have.
So, how does Jesus challenge those attitudes we see around us and find within us? Asking ‘What’s in it for me?’, ‘What do I deserve?’ and ‘What can I get away with?’ Jesus answers those attitudes by showing us the perfection of God’s Law, then by embodying that perfection Himself, and giving His perfection to His followers.
- Echo Jesus’ Perfect Honesty (v33-37)
- Practice Jesus’ Perfect Submission (v38-42)
- Cultivate Jesus’ Perfect Love (v43-48)
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- Unity: An Essential Mark of the Local Church by Josh Buice
- Let Your Dream Church Die by Scott Hubbard
- Ten Reasons to Read the Bible Every Day from John Piper at Desiring God
- Matthew with Douglas Sean O’Donnell on Help Me Teach the Bible with Nancy Guthrie