“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.” (Ephesians 5:1, Christian Standard Bible)
What we call the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in both Matthew and Luke, is perhaps one of the Lord’s most well-known discourses. Yet, it may also be one of the most difficult for us to live out in our daily lives. The passage is long, and the words of Jesus are difficult to consider. What He said goes against our usual way of thinking—our human reaction to situations we face in life. Just consider a few of the things He said to the multitudes that day.
If someone takes your shirt, give him your coat too.
If someone forces you to go a mile, voluntarily go two.
If someone hits you on your left cheek, turn so he can hit the right one also.
If someone hates you, love him back.
Jesus spoke to real people with real needs. He wasn’t giving a philosophical discourse and then inviting them to offer alternate ways of responding to each situation. He wanted to show them a better way to live. Some listening to Him may have thought, “That’s not fair! No way should I have to do that. You’re asking too much.” Was He really asking too much?
Just google “Sermon on the Mount” and you will quickly discover numerous opinions on the practicality of living out Jesus’ words. I’m no theologian, so I won’t presume to explain all that Jesus said. I will suggest that verse 45 may give us insight.
“So that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (CSB).
How we respond to the difficult things in life is our true Christian witness. Anyone can be kind and loving when life goes smoothly, but it’s how we react when we are despised, mistreated, or ridiculed that shows our true character. The simplest way to live out the words of Jesus is to respond as He would respond. After all, He is our Father, so we should bear His characteristics.
Will people misunderstand us? Possibly. Will we still be mistreated? Perhaps. We are living in an imperfect world, and those who don’t know the Lord will not understand our actions. They won’t grasp why we show love instead of hate, go beyond the expected, and don’t rage at life’s injustices. If they consider us foolish, remember the words of Paul in I Corinthians 2:12, 14:
“Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God . . . But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” (CSB)
Lord, make me more like You each day so that I can live out Your words in my life. You are my Father, and I want my life to reflect that to others.