Again we pray thee, O Lord, give us thy love in our heart. Amen.
Matthew 5. 43-48. Ye have heard that it hath been said. Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: But I say unto you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Jesus says that we are to love our enemies; and his Christians must, therefore, do it. His words give strength to do that which they command. If you do not love your enemy, you are not a disciple of Jesus, and must not call yourself by his name. Now, the life of love in the heart declares itself through acts of charity. Your love is not genuine, unless both your heart and your hand are in it. A good impulse which dies without having borne fruit is of no account; and a good deed which does not spring out of the heart has no value. In the ease of Jesus and his disciples there is truth in all things, truth in the heart, and truth in the deeds. When he says “love,” he speaks of a vital and active love. He adds: “Bless them that curse you,” that is, proffer them, with words of blessing, heavenly good things when they, with evil heart and evil words, pour out evil upon you. “Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you intercede for them, as Christ did on the cross; speak of them to your heavenly Father, and receive of him grace and peace for them, that you may be gathered with them in heaven. Exercise charity with equal willingness toward the wicked and the good, toward enemies and friends. God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” In this matter they all stand side by side; all are first, and all are last. When a special promise is attached to that which we do for God’s children, as something which we have done for the Lord himself, and which shall be remembered in heaven (Matthew 25, 40. Luke 16, 9. 1 Timothy 6, 17-19), this applies to just such works as are done in the spirit of the Lord, which loves all, and blesses all, has pity on the evil and the good, and does not think of the reward.
Only the children of God, who know the love of the Father, are able to love their enemies. On the other hand it is equally true, that only they who practice this love can know the heavenly Father, and become his children. Obey the words of Jesus, my soul; then shall the impossible become possible, and every difficulty be made clear.
Lord God, our heavenly Father, give us thy Holy Spirit, and make us perfect as thou art perfect. Thou seest that we are still far away. Have mercy on us, and pour out thy love in our hearts, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Finish, then, thy new creation,unknown; suggested tune: TLH 218
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.