February 11 I Thursday
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” —Luke 6:35
What is love? It is a question many of us have probably wondered at one time or another. When we read through the New Testament, there are two words in the Greek that are translated as “love” in the English. The first of the two is phileo, which is used to describe friendship or brotherly love, like the city of Philadelphia that combines two Greek words, phileo and adelphia to mean “brotherly love.” Phileo is the kind of love that says, “I love you, and you like me. Let’s have a friendship.” Most friendships are formed on the basis of phileo love.
The second of the two is agape, which is hardly ever used outside of the New Testament writing by the Greeks. It is used to describe the love of God. This love is not simply an emotion but an act of the will, where “I love you whether you love me or not, whether you turn your back on me or not. I love you.” Agape love that we are called to is not conditioned by how it is reciprocated or received. Jesus talked about this kind of love with His disciples saying, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). The Greek word for “love” in that verse is agape.
Continuing in the passage, Jesus challenged His disciples, “And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (Luke 6:33-35). Anybody without Christ can love in the same manners as sinners. This is an easy kind of love. But the type of love Jesus was calling His disciples to express is a different kind of love—a supernatural love.
Regarding this text, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “By our enemies, Jesus means those who are quite intractable and utterly unresponsive to our love, who forgive us nothing when we forgive them all, who requite our love with hatred and our service with derision. Love asks nothing in return but seeks those who need it. And who needs our love more than those who are consumed with hatred and are utterly devoid of love?” Bonhoeffer was familiar with this kind of love. He was imprisoned in a Nazi jail and eventually executed days before the end of World War II.
What is our love like?
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for challenging the way I love. Help me to love others with a supernatural—agape—love. Amen!