Luke 6:31-36: ‘And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful’.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, Scripture says. Every word of God is life for man. And reading the Gospel, we have the opportunity to drink from this fountain of life. The very words of the Good News are life-giving, for they are suffused with the Holy Spirit. The fulfillment of these words is the way to the Kingdom of the Father.
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise, says Christ, thus setting a high bar for His disciples, calling them (that is, us) to an active position in life. It is no longer “an eye for an eye” or “a tooth for a tooth,” and it’s not a call simply to not do to others what you yourself don’t want. It is a call to do, a call to live and act. But how should we live and act? Not as is customary among the sons of this age, not as is characteristic of this fallen world. Christians should withstand the worldly spirit; their business is to be foolish for Christ’s sake.
“Strike a pre-emptive blow against your opponent,” says modern morality. Love your enemies, says Christ. “Make a profit at any cost,” we hear on every corner. Lend, hoping for nothing in return, the Son of God calls us.
But if we look deeper, then we will understand that the Gospel is not proposing a new morality; it’s not building some kind of moral system. The Gospel does not deal with ethical issues in general. It simply shows us a way of life – the way of eternal life.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return – it would seem easy to say, but how difficult to fulfill. It is indeed not easy to fulfill, but Christ showed us the example of His life and His death. He truly loved His enemies, even praying on the Cross for those who crucified Him. He did good works: He comforted, He healed, He resurrected. He has given us His entire self; He became man for us, lived for us, and died for us – and He demands nothing from us for Himself in return.
To love one’s enemies is nearly impossible for those who have no hope in the future life. An enemy is one who inflicts pain, who causes suffering. How could he be forgiven? How can you love him? It is impossible—unless we remember that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). We constantly inflict pain and suffering upon God—but He always pardons and forgives us.
It is extremely difficult to do good and lend without expecting anything, especially if you receive in return not “nothing,” but malice, slander, and reproach. But Christ endured all of this—misunderstanding, envy, persecution, blasphemy, slander, malice, beatings, crucifixion, and death. And He not only thereby gave us an example—He is ready to help us in our every good deed. He supports our feeble hand, strengthens us in times of weakness and despair, and gives us hope in what seem like hopeless situations.
Christ promises a great reward for the fulfilment of His words: Ye will be sons of the Most High. What could be higher than that? Christ is the Son of God, and we will be sons of God. The Heavenly Father is kind to us, ungrateful and wicked—and we will be like Him if we do the same. The Lord is merciful, and we have the happy opportunity to draw near to our Creator and Saviour, if we do not seek justice for ourselves, if we do not treat others legalistically, but work so that our hearts would be forgiving, merciful, and loving.
 It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the Gospel is not simply building a moral system, for surely a Christian ought to be the most moral, the most ethical. But our good works must be done for God’s sake, in synergy with Him. Good works attract the grace of God, which deifies us—thus the Christian life is infinitely more than a moral system, but it is certainly not the lack of a moral system. —Trans.
St. John Chrysostom
Has someone grieved you, and insulted you; and mocked you? But consider how often you have done such things to others and even to the Lord Himself! Consider that you say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Consider, that if you do not forgive, you will not be able to say this with confidence. And where does it say that one who forgives his fellow-servants should receive remission of the sins committed against the Lord? But nevertheless we do receive such great loving kindness, because He is rich in mercy and pity.
Source: Through the Year with the Church Fathers, Pres. E. Harakas