Beloved Christians! We speak here of a serious matter, in which consists either eternal salvation or eternal destruction. We speak of the forgiveness of sins, for which we sigh to God daily. But sighing, and even tears, are useless to us if we do not forgive our neighbors their transgressions, for therein are hidden the wickedness and unrighteousness of the human heart.
A man wishes to receive mercy of God, but he does not wish to show mercy to someone like himself. He wishes God to forgive him his sins, but he himself does not wish to forgive. You see how wicked and unrighteous is such a man’s heart.
Our Lord told us, 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, (Matt 5:44),
It is not enough for a Christian to love those that love him, for even the heathen do this, who do not know the true God, and do not accept Christ. As the Lord says, For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even publicans so? (Matt 5:46-47). Christians must surpass pagans in love and excellence and show perfection in themselves. Because Christians are begotten through holy Baptism and renewed unto life eternal and a holy life, they must therefore love not only their friends but also their enemies.
For thereby is a true Christian soul known, and this is also what the Heavenly Father does, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, (Matt 5:45). Christians should imitate Him as children do their father, according to the exhortation of the Apostle, Be ye followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). (to be continued)