Friday, March 6, 2009

Daily - 3/6/09

Mark 5:43-48 (Saturday's Gospel) - more from the Sermon on the Mount.

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I'm borrowing heavily from Barclay's commentary on Matthew today (commentary on Matthew, pgs 200-202). This isn't a term paper so I'll consider that citation good enough.

There are four different Greek words that translate to love in the English language. In the case of loving our enemies, the word used in the gospel is "agape." This is not the same type of love that you feel for a parent or child, for a dear friend, or for your spouse. There are different words in Greek for those things.

If we regard someone with "agape," it means that no matter what they do to us, we will never allow bitterness to enter into our hearts; rather, we will regard them with unquenchable benevolence and good will. Note that this isn't just an action of the heart or emotion, it is an action of will. We choose not to get angy, or to get bitter, or to seek revenge, or to wish bad things upon the person. From this, says Barclay, some conclusions can be drawn.

  • Jesus doesn't tell us to love our enemies the way we love our friends.
  • We have to will ourselves to agape, we don't just get there naturally.
  • Christ isn't giving a license for us or others to do anything we want.
  • This applies to personal relationships. This isn't a teaching for pacifism or against war.
  • You can't do this without Christ.
  • We are called to PRAY for our enemies, not just accept what they do.