The Christian Citizen Part 6: His Enduring Obligation of Love

Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 5:44-48
       Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
       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 publicans do 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.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): That holiness is to be suspected, at least is to be blamed, which is without love to men. And love itself is a great part of holiness.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Whatever is devoid of love is of no account in the sight of God.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Observe well: religion is not harmlessness; which a careful observer of mankind properly terms “hellish harmlessness,” as it sends thousands to the bottomless pit. It is not morality, excellent as that is when it is built on a right foundation―loving faith; but when otherwise it is of no value in the sight of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The great motive to Christian living is love. Paul puts it in a remarkable way when he says, Love is the fulfilling of the law.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): A man may be a good doctor without loving his patients; a good lawyer without loving his clients; a good geologist without loving science; but he cannot be a good Christian without love.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): “What do ye more than others?” is our Lord’s solemn question. Even those who have no religion can “love those who love them;” they can do good and show kindness when affection or interest moves them. But a Christian ought to be influenced by higher principles than these…Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Love is the very essence and life of the Christian religion…It is a serious question, and one which we should frequently put to ourselves, What do we more than others? What excelling thing do we do? We know more than others; we talk more of the things of God than others; we profess, and have promised, more than others―but what do we more than others? Wherein do we live above the rate of the children of this world?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): “Love your enemies”―This is the most sublime piece of morality ever given to man. Has it appeared unreasonable and absurd to some? It has. And why? Because it is natural to man to avenge himself, and plague those who plague him.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The natural man can sometimes be passive. He can decide not to strike back and hit back, but not easily. [But] there has never been a natural man who has been able to love his enemy, to do good to them that hate him, to bless them that curse him, and to pray for them that despitefully use him and persecute him…It is the Christian alone who can rise to this. Your natural ethics and morality can make a passive resister; but the Christian is a man who positively loves his enemy, and goes out of his way to do good to them that hate him, and to pray for them that use him despitefully and malign him.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): What Christ here commands and advises to, He Himself did; for as He hung upon the cross, He prayed for his crucifiers, who were then using Him in the most despiteful, as well as cruel manner; saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:” and in this He has left us an example, that we should tread in His steps; and here in He was quickly followed by his holy martyr Stephen, Acts 7:60; who, whilst he was being stoned, prayed for his persecutors and murderers, saying, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” This breathes out the true spirit of Christianity, and is peculiar to it.

ATHANASIUS (276-373): The will of Jesus Christ is, that those who belong to Him should walk exactly in His footsteps; that they should be, as He was, full of mercy and love; that they should render to no one evil for evil, but endure, for His sake, injuries, calumnies, and every outrage. To them all anger and resentment should be unknown.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Any common sort of man will love those who love him. “Love for love is man-like;” but “love for hate” is Christ-like. Shall we not desire to act up to our high calling?

MATTHEW HENRY: God has done more for us, and therefore justly expects more from us than from others; the glory of God is more concerned in us than in others…In this especially we must do more than others, that while every one will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and this will speak a nobler principle, and is consonant to a higher rule, than the most of men act by…We cannot have complacency in one that is openly wicked and profane, nor put a confidence in one that we know to be deceitful; nor are we to love all alike; but we must pay respect to the human nature, and so far honour all men: we must take notice, with pleasure, of that even in our enemies which is amiable and commendable; ingenuousness, good temper, learning, and moral virtue, kindness to others, profession of religion, etc., and love that, though they are our enemies. We must have a compassion for them, and a good will toward them.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): If he be a good man, love him in God; if bad, love him for God. A hard task, I must needs say, but, hard or not hard, it must be done, be it never so contrary to our foul nature and former practise.

ADAM CLARKE: Give your enemy every proof that you love him. We must not love in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Paul says: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink,” Romans 12:20, which is exactly the same teaching. It is everywhere. And the apostles not only taught it; they lived it…Are we like that?

MATTHEW HENRY: It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press toward a perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father…It is God’s perfection to forgive injuries and to entertain strangers, and to do good to the evil and unthankful, and it will be ours to be like Him. We that owe so much, that owe our all, to the divine bounty, ought to copy it out as well as we can.

JOHN TRAPP: Owe no man any thing, but to love one another. This is that desperate debt that a man cannot discharge himself of, but must ever be paying, and yet ever owing.

C. H. SPURGEON: You do not love the Lord at all unless you love the souls of others.


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