This lesson can help students understand what we must do to become perfect like our Father in Heaven. Additionally, as students review the Lord’s higher laws, they can consider ways to improve how they obey the Lord’s commandments.
Before class, write the following question on the board: Which commandment do you think is the most difficult for people to keep? When class begins, ask students to respond to the question. List their answers on the board.
Invite a student to read Matthew 5:48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a commandment that is difficult to keep. You may want to suggest that students mark the Joseph Smith Translation in Matthew 5:48, footnote a.
How does the commandment to be perfect make you feel?
What do you think it means to be perfect?
Invite students to read Matthew 5:48, footnote b, silently, looking for the meaning of the word perfect, and ask them to report what they find. Explain that to become complete or fully developed means to become like Heavenly Father.
As students continue their study of the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, invite them to look for principles they need to follow in order to progress toward becoming perfect like our Father in Heaven.
Summarize Matthew 5:17–20 by explaining that the Savior taught that He came to fulfill the law of Moses, not to destroy, or do away with, any of the eternal truths in the law of Moses. Jesus Christ restored the fulness of the gospel that had been lost due to wickedness and apostasy, corrected false teachings, and fulfilled the prophecies made by Old Testament prophets. Eventually, as part of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel, some aspects of the law of Moses were discontinued, such as circumcision and animal sacrifice.
Explain that Matthew 5:21–48 includes the Savior’s teachings about various laws and traditions the Jews had developed or added under the law of Moses. As Jesus Christ explained the true meaning of the laws, He taught a higher way of righteousness. Members of His kingdom must live this higher law. These higher laws provided guidance to help disciples of Jesus Christ avoid breaking God’s commandments.
To help students recall some of what they learned about the higher law in their home-study lesson, you might want to write the following sentences on the board: Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
What are some dangers of not controlling our anger?
Why is it important to control our thoughts?
Summarize Matthew 5:31–37 by explaining that the Lord taught about divorce, marriage, and making oaths.
Invite students to imagine that a peer at school says cruel and unkind things about them. Ask students how they would respond.
Invite a student to read Matthew 5:38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the law of Moses taught about punishing individuals for their sins or offenses. Ask them to report what they find. Explain that the phrase “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” means that under the law of Moses, the punishment had to match the seriousness of the offense.
Divide the students into pairs. Invite one partner to read Matthew 5:39–42 and the second partner to read Matthew 5:43–47. Ask them to look for the higher law. After sufficient time, ask students to discuss the following questions with their partners (you may want to display these questions on the board or provide them on a handout):
After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their answers with the class.
Invite a student to reread Matthew 5:45 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen if we love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.
What will happen if we love our enemies and do good to those who hate us?
Knowing that we are all spirit children of God, what do you think it means in this verse to be children of our Father in Heaven? (It means to be like Him and become heirs of His kingdom.)
How did the Savior exemplify loving His enemies and doing good to others during His life?
Invite students to reflect on what they have learned in Matthew 5 about what we need to do to become perfect like Heavenly Father.
What are some things we need to do to become perfect like our Father in Heaven? (Students may use different words, but they should identify a principle similar to the following: As we follow the Savior’s teachings and commandments, we can become perfect like our Father in Heaven.)
Remind students that it is only through Jesus Christ and by His grace that we can become perfected (see Moroni 10:32).
To help students understand the process of becoming perfect, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous [difficult] and endless. Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord. It awaits all who love him and keep his commandments” (“Perfection Pending,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 88).
According to President Nelson, when will we reach perfection?
How might this statement help someone who feels overwhelmed and discouraged by his or her imperfections?
Encourage students to continue to obey God’s commandments so that they can eventually become like our Heavenly Father.
To help prepare students for the next unit, invite them to consider the following questions: What is the Golden Rule? What did the Lord teach about judging others? What happens to those who serve two masters? What did people have to do to be healed by the Savior? Explain that in the next unit students will have the opportunity to learn the answers to these questions and to learn about the Savior’s charge to His Apostles.