Loving Your Enemies
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48
When Christ said “Love your enemies,” He could have used any one of four words. The Greek language is very descriptive and detailed in its expressions. Its words are precise and full of meaning. In speaking of love, the Greek language describes exactly what is meant. It separates the various types of love, and uses four different words for love.
- Eros – This is love that arises from passion, infatuation, and sexual attraction. It is the love of a man for a woman.
- Storge – This is love that arises from a natural born affection, the affection of family love.
- Phileo – This is love that is an affection that fills a person’s heart with warmth and tenderness. It is the love of precious affection and feelings toward those who are very near and dear to one’s heart.
- Agape – This is a sacrificial love, that is, a love that cares, gives, and works for another person’s good—regardless of how the person may respond.
The word Christ uses in saying “Love your enemies” is agape: the love that must be willed. The Christian must use his mind and reason, deliberately choosing to love his enemy.
The Christian’s love is not a complacent acceptance of open wickedness and license. It is not sitting back and allowing a person to do as he pleases. It is not allowing selfishness and deception and a wallowing around in license. Agape love is putting a stop to sin and license as much as possible. It is restraint, control, discipline, and even punishment when it protects the offender from himself and protects those whom he hurts. Very simply pictured, it is a parent controlling a child for his own good and for the good of those who love him. Agape love is God’s love. A Christian can have agape love only as he allows God to love through him. The believer wills to love as God loves, and God empowers him to do so (Romans 5:5).
- Can you think of people you love that fall into each of the different types of love?
- How does it make you feel that God calls us to love our enemies?
- Have you ever experienced love from an enemy? If so, how did that make you feel?
- Why do you think God calls us to love our enemies?
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