Lord Jesus, give us charity. Amen.

Matthew 5, 38-42. Ye have heard that it hath been said. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law. and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

“Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” These words the Lord himself explained in the house of Caiaphas. When one of the officers struck him in the face, Jesus said: “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” He loved his enemy, and wished to save him. It is our duty to put ourselves in our neighbor’s place, and deal with him in the manner which best serves his interest, even if it be directly contrary to our inclination. Rather than quarrel you should let your enemy keep everything which is yours. Of what account is all your property as compared with charity or the value of your neighbor’s soul? As you must be careful to wrong no man yourself, so also must you guard against helping others to do wrong. It is your duty to refuse your neighbor that which you could wish him to refuse you under the same circumstances; for instance, money to spend for strong drink, or a loan to be expended in riotous living, or in a useless business venture. But this is a matter which requires the exercise of holy earnestness, charity, and self-denial. The matter would be disposed of without difficulty, if it could be settled by merely saying: “I might be willing to turn to him the other cheek also, if it were not for the fear of exasperating him; I would not hesitate to let him keep the cloak, if love did not forbid me to help him to do wrong; I would gladly go two miles with him, could I do it without encouraging him in his wickedness; and I would be more than willing to give and lend, were I not afraid that I might thereby tempt him to do wrong.” It is easy enough to indulge in this kind of talk; but it is mere idle vaporing, unless you at the same time prove your sincerity by self-sacrificing deeds of charity toward your neighbor. While you do not keep the Lord’s command by merely obeying it in its literal sense, it is equally certain that a charitable impulse in the heart will, as a rule, be followed by the corresponding act, and that it never can fail to come to the surface. Your love may impel you to refuse money to a drunken reprobate; but in that case it will also move you to do something better for him. — Are you sure that the temporal and eternal welfare of your enemy is more dear to you than are your worldly belongings and your ease and comfort? Do you cheerfully take upon yourself labor and trouble in order to serve one who persecutes you with malice? This is mercy; practice it. Live thus; it is a glorious life. It is a life in liberty; a rich, a strong, an honored life, even though you be the least, the most needy, and the most humble of all men; for the love which ministers to the wants of others is the true greatness of life. None but Jesus can teach it. None can learn it save he only who daily throws himself at the feet of the Savior, and receives pardon for his sins. Such a one really does learn the lesson; though, to be sure, he must spend his whole life in learning it to perfection.

We heartily pray thee, O Lord, give us thy love in our heart; let our whole life be love. Amen.

Redeemer, come! I open wide
My heart to thee; here, Lord, abide!
Let me thy inner presence feel,
Thy grace and love in me reveal;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on,
Until our glorious goal be won.
Eternal praise and fame
We offer to thy name.

(TLH 73c, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”; tune here)

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