Like Father, Like Sons: A Father-Oriented Approach to Christian Maturity (Matthew 5:43)
“Be mature as your Heavenly Father is perfectly mature.” It doesn’t have the same ring as “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” but it may be closer to the reality of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:48.
On Sunday we finished the last of six expositions of the law that Jesus gives in Matthew 5:43–48. And as Jesus addresses the topic of love and hate, we learn how to grow up in Christ and to become more like our Heavenly Father.
You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and further resources are listed below.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- When you think about God’s will for your life, what comes to mind? What have you read, heard, or done to seek God’s will or follow God’s will?
- How do passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:16–18 and Matthew 5:48 help simplify the pursuit of God’s will? Can we know God’s particular will for our lives (see Deuteronomy 29:29)? (Hint: Such hyper-specific knowledge is closer to superstitious impressions than a biblical understanding of God’s will. For more information on seeking God’s will see Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung).
- What does ‘sonship’ mean? How does it apply to Christians today? Why is an understanding of sonship so important for the Christian’s life in Christ. For more information, read Romans 8:15–16; Galatians 3:26–29; 4:5; 1 John 3:1–2.
- How have you read Matthew 5:48 before? How does understanding the concept of “sonship” / “maturity” help clarify its meaning? Compare 1 Corinthians 2:6; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:28; James 1:4.
- What do we learn about sonship in Matthew 5:9 and Matthew 5:43–47. How does these verses motivate you to walk like Christ?
- How does an understanding of sonship protect you from legalism? From lethargy?
- How does the command to love our enemies motivate our communion with God? Why is communion with God so essential for loving those who do not love us?
- In what other ways have you learned to love those who don’t love you? Pray for those who are hostile to you? Greet those who won’t greet you?
- Finally, why is it so important to learn from those who have suffered well? Do you have category/theology for suffering? Why is it so important to learn to suffer well?
John Piper wrote his doctoral dissertation on the command, “Love Your Enemies.” You can read his book here. Here are a few devotions from him.
- What It Means to Pray for Your Enemies by John Piper
- Why We Should Love Our Enemies by John Piper
- Does God Love His Enemies? by John Piper
Here are other helpful resources addressing God’s will, suffering, growing in grace, and the contents of Matthew 5:43–47.
- Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung — This is the best short treatment on the subject of God’s will.
- The Voice of the Martyrs (website) — Western Christians have so much to learn from the persecuted church. VOM shares their stories and ways we can support our suffering brothers and ways we can learn from them.
- Sons in the Son by David Garner — A biblical-theological treatment on the theme of sonship.
- What Should We Think About the Imprecatory Psalms?
- Common Grace: How God Blessed the Nations in the Age of Abraham
Soli Deo Gloria, ds