I Say Unto You 5: Love (Matthew 5:38-48)

But I say to you, love your enemies …

J.C. Ryle writes of these verses:

You have here our Lord Jesus Christ’s rules for our conduct one towards another. He that would know how he ought to feel and act towards his fellow men, should often study these verses …

The Lord Jesus forbids everything like an unforgiving and revengeful spirit. A readiness to resent injuries, a quickness in taking offence, a quarrelsome and contentious disposition, a keenness in asserting our rights, – all are contrary to the mind of Christ. The world may see no harm in these habits of mind. But they do not correspond to the character of the Christian. Our Master says, “Don’t resist him who is evil.”

The Lord Jesus enjoins on us a spirit of universal love and charity. We ought to put away all malice. We ought to return good for evil, and blessing for cursing. We ought to “love even our enemies.” Moreover we are not to love in word only, but in deed. We are to deny ourselves, and take trouble, in order to be kind and courteous. If any man “compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” We are to put up with much and bear much, rather than hurt another, or give offence. In all things we are to be unselfish. Our thought must never be, “how do others behave to me?” but “what would Christ have me to do?”

A standard of conduct like this may seem, at first sight, extravagantly high. But we must never content ourselves with aiming at one lower. We must observe the two weighty arguments by which our Lord backs up this part of His instruction. They deserve serious attention. For one thing, if we do not aim at the spirit and temper which are here recommended, we are not yet children of God. Our “Father in heaven” is kind to all. He sends rain on good and on evil alike. He causes “His sun” to shine on all without distinction. A son should be like his father. But where is our likeness to our Father in heaven, if we cannot show mercy and kindness to everybody? Where is the evidence that we are new creatures, if we lack charity? It is altogether lacking. We must yet be “born again.” … There is much in all this which calls loudly for solemn reflection. There are few passages of Scripture so calculated to raise in our minds humbling thoughts.

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