"There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight for both the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
(Matthew 5:43-48 Life Application Bible)
How can we be perfect?
1. In character. In this life we cannot be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Christ as possible, seeking moral perfection and sinless behaviour.
2. In holiness. Like the Pharisees, we are to separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. But unlike the Pharisees, we are to be devoted to God's desires rather than our own, and carry His love and mercy into the world.
3. In maturity. We can’t achieve Christ-like character and holy living all at once, but must grow toward perfection. Just as we expect different behaviour from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behaviour from us, depending on our stage of spiritual development. We can be perfect if our behaviour is appropriate for our maturity level - perfect, yet with much room to grow. Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls all of His disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity and to mature in every area, becoming like Him. Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect even as He is perfect (1 John 3:2).

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