I live as a member of the communion of saints through faith in Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit by gathering to worship God with my fellow Christians, by praying for and encouraging one another, and by coming to one another’s aid in times of trouble, sickness, or grief. (Psalm 133; Acts 2:42–47; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11–18; Hebrews 10:24–25; James 5:13–20)

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John Chrysostom

AD 407

(On Hebrews 10:24–25)

Then he adds the perfect thing, love. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, which some (he says) do, and divide the assemblies. For a brother helped by a brother is as a strong city. Proverbs 18:19, Septuagint But let us consider one another to provoke unto love. What is, let us consider one another? For instance if any be virtuous, let us imitate him, let us look on him so as to love and to be loved. For from Love good works proceed. For the assembling is a great good: since it makes love more warm; and out of love all good things arise. For nothing is good which is not done through love. This then let us confirm towards each other. For love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10 We have no need of labors or of sweatings if we love one another. It is a pathway leading of itself towards virtue. For as on the highway, if any man find the beginning, he is guided by it, and has no need of one to take him by the hand; so is it also in regard to Love: only lay hold on the beginning, and at once you are guided and directed by it. Love works no ill to his neighbor Romans 13:10; thinks no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Let each man consider with himself, how he is disposed toward himself. He does not envy himself; he wishes all good things for himself; he prefers himself before all; he is willing to do all things for himself. If then we were so disposed towards others also, all grievous things are brought to an end; there is no enmity; there is no covetousness: for who would choose to overreach himself? No man; but on the contrary we shall possess all things in common, and shall not cease assembling ourselves together. And if we do this, the remembrance of injuries would have no place: for who would choose to remember injuries against himself? Who would choose to be angry with himself? Do we not make allowances for ourselves most of all? If we were thus disposed towards our neighbors also, there will never be any remembrance of injuries. And how is it possible (you say) that one should so love his neighbor as himself? If others had not done this, you might well think it impossible: but if they have done it, it is plain that from indolence it is not done by ourselves. And besides, Christ enjoins nothing impossible, seeing that many have even gone beyond His commands. Who has done this? Paul, Peter, all the company of the Saints. Nay, indeed if I say that they loved their neighbors, I say no great matter: they so loved their enemies as no man would love those who were likeminded with himself. For who would choose for the sake of those likeminded, to go away into Hell. when he was about to depart unto a kingdom? No man. But Paul chose this for the sake of his enemies, for those who stoned him, those who scourged him. What pardon then will there be for us, what excuse, if we shall not show towards our friends even the very smallest portion of that love which Paul showed towards his enemies? And before him too, the blessed Moses was willing to be blotted out of God’s book for the sake of his enemies who had stoned him. David also when he saw those who had stood up against him slain, says, I, the shepherd, have sinned, but these, what have they done? See 2 Samuel 24:17 And when he had Saul in his hands, he would not slay him, but saved him; and this when he himself would be in danger. But if these things were done under the Old [Covenant] what excuse shall we have who live under the New, and do not attain even to the same measure with them? For if, unless our righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven Matthew 5:20, how shall we enter in when we have even less than they? Love your enemies, He says. Matthew 5:44 Love thou therefore your enemy: for you are doing good not to him, but to yourself. How? You are becoming like God. He, if he be beloved of you, has no great gain, for he is beloved by a fellow-slave; but thou, if you love your fellow-slave, hast gained much, for you are becoming like God. Do you see that you are doing a kindness not to him but to yourself? For He appoints the prize not for him, but for you. What then if he be evil (you say)? So much the greater is the reward. Even for his wickedness you ought to feel grateful to him: even should he be evil after receiving ten thousand kindnesses. For if he were not exceedingly evil, your reward would not have been exceedingly increased; so that the reason you assign, for not loving him, the saying that he is evil, is the very reason for loving him. Take away the contestant and you take away the opportunity for the crowns. Do you see not the athletes, how they exercise when they have filled the bags with sand? But there is no need for you to practice this. Life is full of things that exercise you, and make you strong. Do you see not the trees too, the more they are shaken by the winds, so much the more do they become stronger and firmer? We then. if we be long-suffering, shall also become strong. For it is said, a man who is long-suffering abounds in wisdom, but he that is of a little soul is strongly foolish. Proverbs 14:29 Do you see how great is his commendation of the one, do you see how great his censure of the other? Strongly foolish, i.e. very [foolish]. Let us not then be faint-hearted one towards another: for this does not rise from enmity, but from having a small soul. As if the soul be strong, it will endure all things easily, and nothing will be able to sink it, but will lead it into tranquil havens. To which may we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen

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