1st June 2017

Growing in the Way of God’s Heart

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

Recently, I volunteered to take a friend’s dog for a walk while they were busy on other matters. Unfortunately for me the fine weather quickly disappeared; before long we were in a heavy rainstorm. At least I had worn the right coat for the weather and my canine companion seemed quite happy to continue his walk. But as the saying goes, ‘every cloud has a silver lining,’ and in this case it was true. Suddenly a hole in the clouds developed and the sun shone over the river valley below us. As I admired the beautiful scene, I glanced over at the dog. He too was looking in the same direction but as far as I could fathom, he was only interested in seeking out the squirrels for chasing or to find a stick for me to throw.

I assume that is one of the attributes that make us human—finding a random pattern of clouds and sunshine to be quite beautiful and ready to be admired. As I pondered the difference between humanity and animals, another thought hit me. How different would it be for me to think like God?

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus directs us to be “children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). The challenge Jesus lays out for us is very simple, but extraordinarily difficult to achieve on our own resources. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbours and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44).

As I look out over a crowd of people I know, I may see people I like, respect and admire. But I may also see people that I dislike, distrust and even fear. Here is the difference in the mind of God: He loves all of them, whoever they are and whatever they have done. My experience of seeing the sun breaking through the rain makes me reflect a little deeper on Jesus’ next comment in verse 45 “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.”

Let’s be honest. Perfection through my own strength is impossible. I am unable to be like God, someone who loves enemies as well as friends. But I do not rely on my own strength. Matthew 7:7-8 says to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I don’t think that any dog can perceive the imaginations of the human soul. In contrast, we are able to grow into the way of God’s heart. Where we miss perfection, let’s turn to the Giver of all good gifts, our Father in heaven. He will grow us in the way of his love, shaping our hearts so that we truly are his children.

Father, you who cause the sun to rise on the evil as well as the good – teach us to have a heart like you. We know that we do not have the inner strength to do so, but you will lead us in the way of true love and righteousness, through your Son, Jesus.

Study by Ian Woodley


About the Author:
Ian Woodley pastors the Nottingham Grace Communion Church.

Local Congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy & Vincent Brown Village Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Ian Woodley
Email: ian_woodley@wcg.org.uk


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