Loving the Unlovely

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

“Ours it is to persist in loving, even if men persist in enmity. We are to render blessing for cursing, prayers for persecutions. Even in the cases of cruel enemies, we are to “do good for them, and pray for them.” We are no longer enemies to any, but friends to all. We do not merely cease to hate, and then abide in a cold neutrality; but we love where hatred seemed inevitable. We bless where our old nature bids us curse, and we are active in doing good to those who deserve evil from us. Where this is practically carried out, men wonder, respect, and admire the followers of Jesus. The theory may be ridiculed, but the practice is reverenced, and is counted so surprising, that men attribute it to some Godlike quality in Christians, and own that they are the children of the Father who is in heaven.

Indeed, he is a child of God, who can bless the unthankful and the evil; for in daily providence the Lord is doing this on a great scale, and none but his children will imitate him. To do good for the sake of the good done, and not because of the character of the person benefited, is a noble imitation of God. If the Lord only sent the fertilizing shower upon the land of the saintly, drought would deprive whole leagues of land of all hope of harvest. We must also do good to the evil, or we shall have a narrow sphere, our hearts will grow contracted, and our sonship towards the good God will be rendered doubtful.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have..?” (Matthew 6:46)

Any common sort of man will love those who love him; even tax-gatherers and the scum of the earth can rise to this poor, starveling virtue. Saints cannot be content with such a grovelling style of things. “Love for love is manlike”; but “love for hate” is Christlike. Shall we not desire to act up to our high calling?”

C.H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), 31.