43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Help us to love not only those who love us first, but also those who treat us badly. Jesus expressed his love by dying for us precisely at a time when we were rebelling against his authority. Help us to do the same sort of thing whenever we are presented with the chance. Then help us to make opportunities to love where none exist.
When we are disrespected, help us to respond with respect. When we are ignored precisely as we think we need someone’s attention, help us to think of the needs of others and pay attention to them. When we are hurt, help us to respond with healing love and in so doing, become more like Jesus our Lord.
In saying all of this, we know that this love does not come naturally to us, but we know that it can arise as the result of you working supernaturally within our hearts. We need your Holy Spirit to work within us to produce this spiritual fruit.
Father, may self-giving love be a mark of who we are as your children and as followers of Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we pray.