Not only does Jesus pinpoint the distinct characteristics of how the godly conduct themselves—they love their enemies; they bless those who curse them; they do good to those who hate them; they pray for those who despitefully use them (Matthew 5:44)—He also gives three compelling reasons why on earth you should be godly. He explains “that you may be sons of your Father 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:45-48).
- Godliness is a family thing (v. 45). Since the very first sin, God’s holy wrath was kindled against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18). His holy nature is stirred by sin, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Yet, He loves His enemies, blesses those who curse Him, and is good to those who hate Him. He is good, forbearing and longsuffering because of who He is. “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).
- Godliness distinguishes you (vv. 46-47). A Pharisee who only loved those who loved him was no better than the tax collector he self-righteously loathed as morally reprehensible. A Christian today who only greets his brethren is no different and no better than the leader of your local gang. A saint is someone who has been set apart for a holy purpose. Like an exquisite piece of art, a godly saint is distinctive and priceless.
- Godliness produces spiritual maturity (v. 48). Only the mature act godly in intentional ways instead of reacting carnally to mistreatment. You are behaving at the highest level of godliness when you, like Christ, are reviled and do not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23).
Don’t try to measure up to your peers. Aim for heaven, not earth: Seek to imitate God. Do what God does.