“You Therefore Must Be Perfect” (Matthew 5: 43 – 45, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus acknowledges that under the old covenant, hating one’s enemy is expected. Retribution is the rule, not the exception — ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Matthew 5: 38) Today, Islam lives under this same rule of retribution. But, under the new covenant which Jesus introduces to His disciples and followers, Jesus calls them and us to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us], so that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 43 – 44)

Jesus calls us to perfection. In us there must be no evil intention, no thought or act of hatred or revenge. If we only love those who love us, “what reward do [we] have?” (Matthew 5: 46)

How do we love the man who murders our child? How do we love the woman who steals our husband? How do we love the drunk driver who totals our car? How do we love the colleague who cheats on his taxes? How do we love the neighbor who plays music so loudly it makes our floors vibrate? How do we love the driver who cuts us off in traffic and nearly causes a needless accident? How do we love the person in the grocery store who drops a jar of jelly and walks away without a thought?

I maintain we don’t. I maintain that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Living God, loves these individuals through us. Hence Jesus asks us to “be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 48)