(Part 151)


February 20, 2016

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Psalm 119:1-8

Matthew 5:43-48

As Christians we are called to imitate Christ and to be like God, in whose image and likeness we are created. As such, it is not just about being good and doing good. It is all about being perfect. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48). How can that happen?

Well, first of all, God Himself enters into a special relationship with us. We have a covenant relationship. This is a solemn agreement. On God’s part, “he will be your God” (Dt 26:17b). For our part, “you will walk in his ways, observe his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey his voice.” (Dt 26:17c). When we keep our part of the agreement, we enter into a very special place: “you will be a people specially his own, as he promised you” (Dt 26:18b). Thus we will be a people set apart. To be set apart is to be holy. “You will be a people holy to the Lord, your God, as he promised.” (Dt 26:19b).

How do we grow in holiness and Christian perfection? We avoid sin and walk along God’s ways. “They do no wrong; they walk in his ways.” (Ps 119:3). How are we able to do that? We look to God’s commands and observe them. “You have given them the command to observe your precepts with care.” (Ps 119:4). For us to do this, we must know God’s commands. To know His commands and His ways, we must look to His written word, the Bible.

First, we must read and meditate on the Bible. We must “ponder all your commandments.” (Ps 119:6b). Second, we must study what we have read. “I will praise you with sincere heart as I study your righteous judgments.” (Ps 119:7). Third, we must then carry out what we have learned and obey God’s law. “I will observe your statutes” (Ps 119:8a).

When we study the Bible, we will encounter challenging directives from God. For example, “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). Wow. That is extremely difficult. But see where thinking about and then obeying God’s law brings us. It sets us apart (that is, we become holy). “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” (Mt 5:46-47).

We are God’s special people. We are in covenant with Him. We must be different from the world around us. We must be holy and perfect.

*     *     *