Love, God and PurposeOur passage for today speaks about love.
- What is love like?
- Who is love for?
- What does love achieve?
Our text has some surprising answers:
What is love like? Love is a decision. We don't feel love for our enemies - this is a choice we must make. Love is courageous and moves in the 'opposite spirit' (when people persecute us, we respond by praying for them.) And yes, praying for people is love. Love is impartial - just like the rain that falls on sinners and saints. Love is greeting those who are not like us. Love is often unrequited and/or undeserved.
Who is love for? Love is for our enemies and those who persecute us. It is for those who are evil and for those who are good. We must not discriminate about who needs love more or deserves it more. Just love people - be indiscriminate - just like the rain that fails on good and evil alike. Love is for those who haven't earned it and can't pay it back. We don't love only those who are fun to love or those who will "repay" our love.
What does love achieve? This is a key question.
When we love and pray then we are children and heirs of God (the Greek word is "sons" and in Greek culture the sons were the heirs). This is a very important aspect of love - it shows Who we belong to. Jesus taught that it is by our love that we will be known to be His disciples. We also don't love because it's needed. (It is needed, but need is not why we love.) We don't love because it feels good. The text is clear, sometimes our love will be unrequited. We love because it's in our spiritual genes. If we are children of God, we will behave like Him, if we don't love, we don't know God. This leads us to the difficult phrase - "Be perfect..." but we'll examine this tomorrow.
In the meantime... take time to remember that love or the lack if it reveals our true spiritual ancestry."You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew5:43-48)