Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Jesus applied the same standard to us that He was held to Himself: the Father. As an eternal member of the Godhead He was able to meet that standard, even though He was also fully human, but we deal with past sins as well as the sins of others, to the point that our perfection will come only when we are free of these bodies and before the Father’s throne. Jesus wasn’t trying to push us down or give us a complex, rather He was encouraging us never to be satisfied with things as they are, but keep pressing in for more. That was exactly Paul’s attitude, which he so famously expressed in Philippians 3:12-14. The devil, on the other hand, wants us to see that we can’t be perfect in our own strength, and so give up trying. He’s a real expert at taking something that is true and twisting it until it becomes false. We indeed can’t be perfect in our own strength, but again as Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) The whole point is to teach us to depend on God rather than on ourselves, applying ourselves fully but knowing that the power rests entirely with God and not with us. We don’t like to acknowledge that! We like to maintain pride, thinking we are accomplishing things on our own, when Jesus said flat out, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Commands to be like God should remind us of that, and cause us to cling more closely to Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and flow through us. To the degree that happens, everything that is true of the Father is true of us. That’s why Jesus could say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) We choke at that simply because we are fixated on ourselves, rather than fully depending on God.
I’m really talking to myself here! I have known the truth of these Scriptures as intellectual fact for a long time, but I’m pushing 70 and they still aren’t fully at the core of my being. I have no trouble at all agreeing with Paul that I’m not yet made perfect! That makes me all the more grateful for the grace of God, which not only saves me from the penalty of sin but also saves me from the power of sin right now. I so look forward to being saved from the very presence of sin as I stand before my Lord in heaven! Any time I am tempted to “rest on my laurels,” seeing how far I’ve come, I need to apply Jesus’ standard of perfection and realize how far I have yet to go. That’s not to say that I’m constantly to be putting myself down. God has indeed done a good work in me. I am to recognize and be grateful for that, but at the same time know that it will be carried to completion only in the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Father, I had wondered what I was to speak on Sunday, and here You’ve given it to me! Thank You. Help me deliver this Word in a way that people can receive it, being encouraged rather than feeling put down. Keep me from coming across as, “I’m this far along and you’re way back there.” Rather, help me be an instrument of hope for each one who hears, that they may not think their present condition will persist to the end, but rather rejoice at what You’ve already done in them and look forward to what You are continuing to do in and through them, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!