“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”. -Matthew 5:43-48
In this famous section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he talks about God’s grace. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” That God blesses those who believe in him is no surprise, but that God also blesses and helps those who do not believe in him may be. Yes, the sun shines equally on the good and the evil, and the rain falls on the fields of the righteous and the unrighteous. God gives daily bread to the righteous, but also to the wicked. God heals the diseases of the righteous, and he also heals the wicked. God loves those who believe in him, but he also loves those who hate him.
Why is that? Perhaps it doesn’t seem fair. But the answer is this: God preserves the lives of the wicked so that they might hear the preaching of his Word, repent, believe, and be saved. God’s preservation of the wicked preserves for us the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. And that is our call in life.
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The unbelievers are anything but perfect. They are willingly disobedient to God. They deserve God’s punishment and eternal hell. Believers aren’t perfect either. Judged by our own works and deeds, we too deserve punishment and eternal hell. We are all alike in our guilt before God. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” -James 2:10,11.
We are also alike justified through the blood of Christ Jesus. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” -Romans 5:9,10
That realization motivates us to be children of our Father in heaven. His Son, our brother, Jesus, was perfect in every way, loving even his enemies all the way to the cross. We rejoice in our justification. We rejoice to do as our Savior Jesus did. We rejoice to be children of the heavenly Father, who “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” We rejoice in God’s abundant grace, which covers even sinners like us.