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? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 46 – 48
Jesus does not make following him easy, I think we could all agree on this. I know that I am not perfect, and yet we are told to be perfect as God is perfect. Umm, pretty sure that perfection is not possible for me to achieve. I could spend a large chunk of the day listing off all my faults, and all the ways I fall short. Before we get hung up on this command to be perfect, let’s go back to the previous verses.
Do you know people in this world who you would say that there was really no way that you could love that person? There are a handful of people I could list in a couple of seconds who I would have a next to impossible time even attempting to love them. I think of people who hurt people and make unfair and unjust calls that negatively impact a large group of people. Surely Jesus would say that I don’t have to love them, but not so much.
Jesus loved and greeted those who were reviled by many other people. He spent time with tax collectors, who were among the people who were despised. All people were welcomed into the family of Jesus, no matter who they were, what they did, all were called into Jesus’ arms. God continues to show his love for us through the abundant grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love we receive all the time. So maybe the invitation to be perfect is to show that same love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace to all people. Will we fall short, yes, but do we keep trying, and ask for forgiveness when we fall short, yes.
Prayer: God of abundant mercy, we give you thanks that you show us your love, mercy, and forgiveness continually. We give you thanks that you have given us this amazing call to love all people. Help us to continue practicing this, and guide us when we fall short. Amen.
Action: Practice showing love to someone who might be deemed unworthy of love. There is no right way to practice this, but the main thing is to just do it. Practice, practice, practice. The more we love those who don’t love us, the more we are able to incorporate this into our daily lives.