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Live According to God’s Will

Delve into the Sermon on the Mount for some key points on how to align your life with God’s will.

Elizabeth Peale Allen

Part of being a Christian means working for the Lord; it is both a duty and privilege. In speaking to his followers, Christ urged them to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to take a task that the Lord has given us and make it our own. This is because deep down we yearn to do things right for the wrong reasons. We want to feel in control or to be accepted by others. We want to be perfect moms or admirable dads. We want to be thought well of and treated with respect. These entirely human desires rest on a secret perfectionism. We want to be perfect according to our own definition, not our Heavenly Father’s.

So how can we check whether what we’re doing is for our own sake or God’s? Jesus gave us an important checklist in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11):

  • Does this help me know my need of God?
  • What’s being glorified: my image or God’s name?
  • Am I hungering and thirsting for righteousness—or proving that I’m right?
  • Am I being an example of God’s mercy or showing others what a good person I am?
  • How pure is my heart?
  • Am I being a peacemaker or wanting peace for myself?
  • Would I do this for God’s sake, even if everyone thought poorly of me?

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Fortunately this isn’t a command to attain the level of goodness that only God can have. The Greek word translated as perfect here also means complete. And read in context, it’s clear that in order to be complete we must do what Jesus just commanded:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:44-47).

Now here is something we can do. We can pray for those who anger us, who disappoint us, who cause us fear. We can heap burning coals of kindness and mercy upon our enemies (Proverbs 25:21-22). We can do this daily and, in so doing, grow to be more like our Father in heaven. And the more we focus on doing His will, the less likely we’ll be distracted by our own. Which is a perfect way to live.

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