# 2. Matthew 5:47 – And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This question is a follow-up to the previous one which was a follow up to this statement in the Sermon on the Mount … Matthew 5:43-45.
Here Jesus is urging his followers to take the first step in loving others … greet them, acknowledge their presence, and treat them as a person. It is easy to walk by other people, to avoid eye contact, to pretend that you are preoccupied or pondering, or doing something more important than the person you are encountering.
A majority of the time I tend to engage people as I pass them on the street, in a public place which includes church. I find their reactions interesting. Mp3 players and cell phones with earbuds make it easy to ignore others. You might get a smile and a nod; but it is easy to be engrossed into what’s on your device. Sometimes a simple greeting can feel awkward especially if there is a substantial age difference or a gender difference. It doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be attempted if we want to acknowledge that person’s worth in God’s eyes.
I have to admit that there are times that I avoid greeting people and even avoid eye contact. One of the times I do that is when I know that I am being “panhandled.” It could be at an intersection or walking down the street. There’s something in me that has problems with a sign that says “Will work for food,” and the person is just standing on the corner begging. I know people who do day labor, temp jobs, mow lawns, shovel snow, etc. They are “working for food.” I would greet them, encourage them, and help them before I would make eye contact with a person “panhandling” on a street corner. Sure, there are others … people substantially different from me … people speaking a different language … people that give off the “vibes” that they don’t want to be greeted or “messed with.”
So how can I be more like Jesus? How can I better affirm the worth of each person I encounter daily? I’m sure that the Holy Spirit will help me answer that question if I take the step to greet each person I encounter every day. With some people it will be more difficult for me to do that; but with the Holy Spirit’s help I can do it.