“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. 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 5:43-48
I recently received an understanding of love for all of us while I was praying and studying God's Word. According to the context in Matthew 5, the word “perfect” describes the kind of love. Thus, the request is to perform the perfect love of God the Father, which is a love for both friend and foe. To do this, I must stop judging someone as friend or foe based on their treatment of me. We are all descendants of Adam, so we should treat each other like relatives living together in one house - the globe.
Moreover, Jesus did not ask that which He was not prepared to do Himself. Disobedience and sin demonstrate antagonism against God. If God the Father maintained His opposition, we would eat sin’s fruit of death.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8
Notice the word choice when Paul says “God demonstrates His own love for us.” God’s kind of love is perfect love dispensed on all who are for Him and against Him.
Regarding the reward of perfect love...
“Do not take revenge...
On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
- Romans 12:19-21
Paul encourages us toward loving actions from Proverbs 25:21-22 that will "heap burning coals on his head." I believe the burning coals refer to stirring conflict in his mind. When the person he attacks does something kind to him, he might ask, "Why am I against this person who is loving me?" He might even repent and do good as a result. What an amazing transformation by the perfect love of God!
Let us now realize a world of perfect love through the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you experienced a time in your life that involved perfect love? What was the reward? Comment below.