38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Children of the Father in heaven live by a radically new ethic when it comes to matters of justice and mercy. Like their Father, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give beyond what is required.
This contrast with human nature is most stark when considering those who seriously injure us by their words or actions.
LOVING CHILDREN OF THEIR FATHER
Because when we love our enemies we begin to understand the love God has for us. As a result, we begin to become more like Him. Love that is indiscriminate, unconditional and sacrificial. A love that goes against every natural inclination of ours to seek revenge, to hate and to become embittered.
Children of the King and His kingdom do not seek out loopholes or technicalities to get around loving others like their Father loves them. Rather, they choose to wrestle with their natural inclinations to bring them under His control, often acting mercifully when feeling resentful in hopes that one day the two will be in sync.
After all, learning to be perfect as our Father is Perfect is a daunting assignment that can only be accomplished by His grace!