St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5

What more is love than when we are simply kind to someone, showing goodness to someone, and offering friendship? Yet some zealous people preach and teach love in a distorted way, bending it to their own view and purposes. Sure, they have love, but it is only for themselves and those who think and behave like they, while at the same time they hate and belittle anyone else, even the elect, and would much rather see them scorned or dead. For if you choose a small number of people who are pleasing to you, who want what you want, and then be friendly and compassionate and ‘loving’ toward them, yet show hate and animosity, anger and resentment toward those whom you perceive or opine as ‘unloving, wrong or unfavorable,’ such is a very long way from the love God charges you to exhibit. It is quite worthless, in fact, to love this way.

Love that flows from a “pure heart” hears the Lord’s command when He charges us to love our neighbor, to be favorable toward everyone, friends or enemies, just as he is. True love never expects the neighbor to bend to its will but loves the neighbor in spite of his weaknesses or differences of opinion. For, as God lets the sun rise on good and evil both, so too does true love show itself to both friend and foe. Consider how God shows mercy to those who abide in Him, but also toward those who belittle Him and hate him. He gives money, property, family, and all sorts of good things, even to the very evil and depraved. Why? Because God genuinely, unconditionally loves the whole world. His heart overflows with love and He pours it out on everyone, good or bad, worthy or unworthy. This is true, righteous, holy love. It never singles anyone out, separates between good or bad, agreeable or disagreeable.

This is not to say that love is permissive toward evil or sin, for permissiveness is not love. But true love loves even those who do evil and sin with the hope that they will repent and learn to do good.

Heavenly Father, teach me to love as You love me so that I do not distort Your Word and kindness but show it to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.