If we plan to walk worthy of our Christian calling, then we cannot evade an entry into His rest. Except if we do not aspire to. It is a tall order, too tall for our natural strength. For in Matthew 5, the Lord raised the bar.
“You have heard that it was said…”
BUT “I say unto you..”
And in each case, He raised the game. And the things we find stated are things that our humanity can’t sponsor.
“Love your enemies and bless those who curse you.”
“Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you.”
“Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also…”
“If any one wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let Him have your cloak as well.”
…..And others like them
This is how high the calling gets.
In another place, He pegged the limit of forgiveness at 490 times a day. Of course, he was ironically saying that there was no limit to our forgiveness. This is spirituality not morality. The Human brand of forgiveness might have a limit, but this one doesn’t.
To be slapped and to run away is moral. To be slapped and to report to the law enforcers is moral. To be slapped and to retaliate after a while might as well be moral and right. But to be slapped and to turn the other cheek is spirituality.
Spirituality sets its standards at the perfection of the Father and the imitation of Christ, not at merely being right or being treated fairly. It doesn’t just want to be right, it wants to be Divine. Our Heavenly Father too behaves this way. He makes the rain fall on BOTH the just and the unjust. His magnanimity is neither impartial nor inexhaustible. And the goal is this “….that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven…” Unmistakable practical semblance of the Father everywhere!
The Lord says:
“…Except your righteousness EXCEEDS that of the pharisees, you cannot ENTER the Kingdom of God…” Matt. 5:20
In other words, true Christianity is an Exceeding life. It Exceeds everywhere it goes. It Exceeds the norm and the obtainable. And where it is not EXCEEDING, it cannot operate and manifest the Kingdom of Heaven; the virtues and the values of God’s Kingdom. Whereas everywhere a Christian is, we ought to be able to spot him because the Kingdom of Heaven ought be in manifestation there.
We must be told then that although the Lord Jesus raised the bar, it is because He raised the basis. The righteousness of the Pharisees is fulfilled by human power. The righteousness of Christ is too tall an order for it. From what human resource am I to draw the capacity to forgive over 400 times a day? Certainly not from me. God is banking on something else in me. God is banking upon the Life of His Son in me. He knows that it can produce no less and that it can match up with every requirement. For Christ cannot be exhausted at forgiving. He forgives through me, that’s the flow of Life.
It will be rock-hard difficult if I am the One trying to do it. He is supposed to be the one to push it through me. Dependence is the way of spiritual growth. It is the way to let the Life flow. “Without Me, you can do NOTHING.” Nothing is that which I can do without Him. If the Christian life is a life that EXCEEDS, here is the answer we find in Eph. 3:20:
…EXCEEDING, ABUNDANTLY…..ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKETH IN YOU.
All that God expects from me is according to the deposit of power which already works in me. Don’t miss it. There is enormous life within. The Holy Spirit has a union with our spirits. The resources for life are within because the 3rd person of the Godhead dwells there. And He is a Heavy Weight. On you He might have come lightly but He fell on some. They indeed know that He is heavy. He is heavy! Let Him do the work. His power WORKETH, so let it work. Let Him carry you through!