In Matthew 4-7 Jesus begins his ministry and we see the core of Jesus’ life…his temptation, the calling of his disciples, his miracles, and his primary teaching. All of this is done and taught perfectly—to the amazement of his audience (Matt. 7:28). No teaching has ever surpassed the perfect moral teachings of Jesus.
In the center of his teaching, however, Jesus throws out a crazy command: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As a perfectionist struggler, how could Jesus tell me to be perfect? Nobody’s perfect, right?
In context here, Jesus is teaching us to love our "enemies" (Matt. 5:44), not an easy thing to do. We are to do this so that we will show that we are children of our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:45a). If we act like our heavenly Father, we will act with love to the not-so-nice and kind person alike. If we only love those who love us, we are really no better than evil people for even evil people are capable of loving those who love them (Matt. 5:46).*
When Jesus said, "Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48), he seemed to be saying, "Let your love be as thorough and unconditional as God’s love is." This is how we can be as "perfect" like God. Our love for others needs to grow and mature -- including loving our enemies.*
Do you have someone that God is bringing to mind that you should express love to? Perhaps Jesus would say to you today: “Be perfectly loving, as your heavenly Father is perfectly loving.”
* “You Shall Be Perfect,” by Gene Taylor, Centerville Road Church of Christ, Tallahassee, FL