Erring on the Side of Love by Philip Doddridge
O Lord, let your grace and your love do for us what fear of your terrors alone cannot.
Melt our hearts by that nobler principle, and teach us to despise everything that would displease you.
Let our hearts respond with the same kind of compassion that motivated you, Jesus, to serve the poor.
And whenever we do make mistakes, let us err on the side of compassion- a love that would never harm the worst sinner- much less the least and weakest of God’s servants.
We consecrate our lives to you, Lord, even to death. We will not then feel the bitterness of death half so much, when our hearts are ablaze with a zeal for your glory.
As the month of June and the season of Summer begin we find ourselves having just celebrated Pentecost and beginning the month with the reading of the Great Commission on Trinity Sunday (June 4th), which connects to the prayer above.
This prayer, by Philip Doddridge, calls us back to the core of love found in Christian teaching and practice. While not mentioned explicitly this theme of love is foundational to the Great Commission, in which Jesus charges his disciples (and us) to go into all the world making disciples and teaching them all he has commanded. This commission is not a small order, but when we remember the two greatest commandments Jesus gives us we are shown that the core and totality of what discipleship looks like is love of God and neighbor. Two commandments reflected in Doddridge’s prayer.
Beyond (but not forgetting) the command of love this prayer remains cognizant
of the glory, holiness, and goodness of God, and our own propensity to sin and mess up. It is in this context that Doddridge sets the love of God and our own commission to love in such a way that even our error sides with love and compassion. For me this prayer both lays out the challenge of our calling from God, but also the freedom to mess up found in Christ’s grace.
So let us renew our commitment to the commandment and commission to love. To love so freely and broadly that even when we fall short we have done so in the pursuit of love, to the glory of God.
The grace and love of God be with you!