Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and love, that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Imagine this scene. He walks in the front door after work, holding a bouquet of beautiful flowers which he promptly presents to his wife of some years. They are not newlyweds. Surprised by this gift, she beams at him and thanks him. He responds by saying that he is just doing his duty.
Ugh! What a terrible thing for him to say! But look at this prayer again and notice what we are praying for. We ask God, having given us what he promises, that we would love what he commands. We should ask whether commanded love is really love. Is it not like that husband above? He does the right thing in bringing his wife flowers but spoils the deed it by locating the gift in duty. Yet, at several places in Scripture, God commands us to love. How can he do that?
With God, all things are possible. Remember this is the God who simply said, “Let there be light.” And there was light! God’s command to love is spoken in the same way. It too creates that which it demands, not a dutiful non-love which would be keeping some command, but the real thing, the upwelling, natural, beautiful thing we call love. We want that love to focus on the good things which God would have us love, people, world, and God himself. If you are human, there is someone whom you find difficult to love. Look at that person anew. God has commanded you to love him or her. God gives that gift. Do the dutifully loving deed today. You will find that soon it is no longer a duty but a delight.