by Steven Chan
In the Sermon on the Mount as recorded by the apostle Matthew, Jesus taught us about the relationship that we are to have with our Creator; He is our heavenly Father.
- Jesus said that we may be “sons of our Father in heaven” if we treat our fellow man in the same manner as how our heavenly Father treats man: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[h]45 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.”( Matt 5:43-45) It is our conduct which emulates that of our Father in heaven that qualifies us to be “sons of our Father in heaven”. So, when we address our Father in heaven, let us ponder on whether we have treated our fellow brethren and friends in the same way that our Heavenly Father would have.
- Jesus taught that we are to be “perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect”: “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[i] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[j] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”( Matt 5:46-48). The idea here is to make every effort to be consistent in our conduct so as to be more complete or perfect as God is. We may stumble and miss the mark of perfection but we must not be content with missing the mark all the time; we need to have our Heavenly Father as our model of behavior especially in how we treat others. We should not act like “mere men” in only “loving those who love us”; we are to do more than that. Do we think it impossible to do? The Bible says in Rom 5:6-8: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He has loved us even when we were enemies to Him. We have a higher standard of conduct as exemplified by our Heavenly Father.
- Jesus taught that our Heavenly Father who sees us do charitable deeds in secret, will reward us openly: “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”(Matt 6:3-4) This means that the object of our charitable deeds should be that of seeking to glorify our Father, and not to glorify our own selves: “when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men” (Matt 6:2)
- Jesus taught that we are to pray to God in a secret place. “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who isin the secret place;and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”(Matt 6:6) Personal prayer to our heavenly Father is not meant to earn the praise of men. The Bible tells us that when Jesus went to pray, he went to a solitary place to pray: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) Let’s learn to pray at all times and without ceasing because we need the guidance of our Lord in our daily walk in life (Luke 18:1; Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:17)
- Jesus assured us that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and He will provide for us so long as we seek first the kingdom of God: “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:32-33)
- Jesus revealed to us that our heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask Him. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! We need to learn to ask God to supply our needs as we trust Him: “Trust in the Lordwith all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6)
- Jesus said that we ought to treat others in the same manner as we would like to be treated by them. “12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”(Matt 7:11-12) This is the Golden Rule of Christian conduct. Given that God is our heavenly Father and we know that He will give good things to those who ask Him, we will not lack anything (2 Cor 9:6-11) and therefore we should be willing to treat others in the same manner as our Heavenly Father has treated us: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt 6:14-15)
As the world celebrates “Father’s Day”, may we learn to appreciate our Heavenly Father for who He is and what He has done for us. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). Let us honor our Heavenly Father even as we also honor our fathers on earth. May those of us who are fathers also learn to have our Heavenly Father as our model for fatherhood (Heb 12:5-10).