This is the ultimate of "easier said than done". In fact, it doesn't even make that much sense. The last person I would want to be a servant to is the guy next door who constantly takes advantage of me. What is Jesus talking about here?
My first reaction is...ok, so obviously Jesus was willing to practice what he preached, but why? Why ask us to do this? Part of the answer lingers deep in my gut. My actions toward this kind of person may just be enough to be the tipping point of a conversion experience.
Alright, so what if a fellow believer takes advantage of me? Well I suppose I would need to talk to them about that and express my concern that they are not themselves demonstrating Christ-likeness. But I should look at the text. What does the text tell me?
Verse 45 explains it in a better way. It says, "in that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven."
The truth is that children of the Kingdom, those who belong in Christ as children of the King, are held to a higher standard. Throughout this chapter Jesus is constantly contrasting what has always been understood to be the norm to that "higher standard" of living as Kingdom Kids. "You've heard it said...but I tell you..." live this way. If I consider myself to be a child of God than I will be willing to reflect His character and live according to His own standards.
This is further explained in the rest of verse 45. "For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike."
Ok. So if my aim is to be Christlike and live a godly life, then this standard, this kind of living is simply expected. Period. No buts...period. If someone takes advantage of me, I should use it as an opportunity to SERVE and LOVE and BE HUMBLE -- demonstrating certain attributes of my Father in Heaven.
Verse 48 explains that I should be perfect (greek word telios meaning complete and is connected to the word telos which means to set out as in a goal) just as God is perfect (complete). My life should be lived in such a way that I aim for completeness in moral character - like that of my Father's.
When I am faced with the "opportunity to serve and love someone that takes advantage of me, I am also using the opportunity to live out perfection or completeness. I don't need to keep score or track of what he or she has or hasn't done for me. That's not the idea. Besides, as Jesus points out in the next couple verses, where would the reward be in that?
And this leads into the rest of the why question/answer; why ask us to do this? Well there's a reward. What's the reward? I can't say exactly. Part of that may be found as I live here on earth and I think much of that will be revealed to me when I get to Heaven.
So what is the lesson here? I think it's obedience = reward.