Love refers to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection (“I love my mother”) to pleasure (“I loved that meal”).
It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”
It also may describe compassionate and affectionate actions toward other humans, one’s self or animals.
But really when you consider all, it’s a matter of worth. What is the object of your love worth in your eyes?
Jesus expressed his love verbally as Peter recorded in 2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering with us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
What are you worth? What is your value? I tried to find out for myself, so I went to the most reliable source for information in this world: the Internet. (I’m joking.)
I Googled “what are you worth” and found a website called humanforsale.com, which places a dollar value on life. When I told my wife, she first said I was worth a million dollars to her. But I only laughed: “Only a million?” According to the site, I’m worth $3,098,490. Average male: $1,826,769. Later, she said I was priceless.
Jesus asserts that a true follower of Christ must not only love their neighbor but they must also love those who are considered to be their enemies.
What Jesus was saying is that we should love those whom we find difficult and hard to love.
In the case of the Pharisees, they held a narrow view of who their neighbor might be and a narrow view concerning whom their love was to be shown as commanded by God in Leviticus 19:18. “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
In Luke 10:27, Christ poses a question to a lawyer who was most likely a Pharisee. Jesus asked him to define “what is written in the law?” The lawyer responded by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus congratulated the lawyer for a correct answer. Then the lawyer in trying to justify himself asked the question of “Who is my neighbor?” You see this is an important question that must be resolved in our hearts.
Jesus’ response was what we know now as the parable of the Good Samaritan. In essence, Jesus was saying that anyone we come in contact with is our neighbor.
Jesus says that we are not only to love our friends but we are to also love our enemies. To understand this passage we must define who our enemies might be.
First, those who persecute us. Also, those who oppose us in less dramatic ways: these are the ones who resist our will. This might include the rebellious child or the cantankerous neighbor or the uncaring, non-listening, ill-tempered husband or wife.
The enemy can be anyone who doesn’t love us.
How do we express love to our enemies? Jesus says that we are to “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.”
The result is that we will act like and be conformed to Christ’s image.
We bless them. We do good to them. We find ways to practically meet their needs.
We also pray for them. Praying for one of your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good to happen to them.
Ask God to heal the hurts in their lives that are some of the motivators of their evil actions.
Ask God to bless them and show mercy to them. Why? To shame them? No, in order to find it in your heart to love them.
And if you’ll do good when you find opportunities, and bless when you think of them, and pray and intercede earnestly before the Lord, you’ll find that God will begin to put love in your heart toward your enemies.
Why is this important?
It is amazing what happens when we honestly begin to pray and seek God on the other person’s behalf:
We show by example what Christ has done for us. We characterize what Christ does for us.
He prayed for His enemies on the cross when He prayed forgive them for they don’t know what they do.
We begin to see the other person as God sees them.
We allow God to begin to change the way we think about the other person.
Any act of graciousness is actually a result of dwelling in and recognizing how powerful God’s love is.
So “what does love have to do with it?” The answer is “everything.”
Jesus knew what a man’s worth is: it’s worth his own life, when in Mark 5:6-20, Jesus intentionally comes in contact with the man with legion.
No normal Jewish person, much less a rabbi, would risk becoming unclean among the dead.
They would be unclean merely at the touch of something dead.
So why would he be here? Love drew him to the cast down, forgotten, lost tormented soul.
Elder Mark KIRKLAND is pastor of Temple of Faith Apostolic Ministries in Killeen.