I recently learned a new lesson when reading the sermon on the mount Matthew 5-7. As I was reading I was struck by the number of times Christ referred to the Father. When I reviewed the chapters I found that there were 3 references to Him in chapter 5, 12 references in chapter 6, and 2 references in chapter 7. Here is how they break down:
- “your Father” or “your heavenly Father”: 10
- “thy Father”: 5
- “our Father”: 1
- “my Father”: 1
One the great lessons taught in the sermon, one of the most important is that we have a Father in Heaven who loves all of us as individuals. He knows us and cares what we do. He wants us to bless the lives of others. But most importantly He exists and we as individuals matter to him.
I believe that there is a God in Heaven and that Christ is His son and our Savior, so this was not the new lesson. However, when I noticed all the references to the Father it made me think more about the importance of this principle.
I’m quite sure that at times most of us wonder if we matter, if what we do is important, especially if we look at others and their relative influence or success. Suzanne and I have four children whom we love deeply. They are different from each other, have faced a variety of challenges and have varying degrees of success in different aspects of their lives. However, we don’t love one more than another because he or she is a better artist or athlete. We pray for them, we rejoice in their successes, and are proud of them as they overcome life’s challenges. How much money they make or recognition they achieve have no bearing on our love because we know them individually and can see the good in them.
As a young father, the love I felt from my parents gave me hope and strength as I faced new challenges as a provider, husband and parent. When we really understand that there is someone who knows us even better than our parents, is concerned for us, and will not let us down, I believe that gives us strength, confidence and a willingness to serve others. We don’t have to prove that we are better than someone else; it is OK to let others get the spotlight; … we are loved and valued unconditionally. I believe this is the not so hidden lesson that enables us follow the direction Christ provided in the Sermon on the Mount and find joy and happiness therein.