By Rev. Emerson L. Boyce
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4–7
“…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” John 3:16
The ancient Greeks had many words for love. They had a word for the love of lovers: érōs, (ἔρως), one for the love of friends: philía (φιλία), another for the love of parents and children: storgē, (στοργή), and another for the love of hospitality (xenía, ξενία). Yet another word for love, seldom used: agápē, (ἀγάπη). Classical Greek used agape only four times. In each case, it has an anemic translation: “goodwill.”
It is interesting to see that Bible writers grabbed ‘agápē’, and poured gospel meaning into it. They used it to describe God’s love for us and for the kind of love; God gives us for the people we know—and even for those we do not.
‘Agápē’ refers to a set of our mind, a determination of our heart. ‘Agápē’ means to seek another person’s highest good, even if it demands putting that person’s good ahead of our own. This is the kind of love Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Yes, it is possible to love your enemies in the sense of seeking their best interests. We can determine to never return evil for evil or seek revenge (Romans 12:17, 19). We can even pray for those who cause us trouble. By God’s grace, we can love the way God does.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the love you put in our hearts because of your Son, Jesus. May we love like you, because you loved us first. Amen.