Jesus Defines Love

Neat little insight (for me, anyway) in my journey group last night. We were reading from Luke 6:

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

As we read this portion aloud, it dawned on me that Jesus seems to be employing the Hebrew device of parallelism. In other words, with the commands that follow “Love your enemies,” he is not adding to the command but restating it. Thus,
love your enemies = do good to those who hate you
love your enemies = bless those who curse you
love your enemies = pray for those who mistreat you

Or, to put it another way, just as “your enemies” = “those who hate you,” “those who curse you,” and “those who mistreat you”:
love = do good
love = bless
love = pray
love = turn the cheek
love = give
love = lend to others
love = be kind
love = be merciful

This is how Jesus defined love. In terms of actions. Not feelings. To love, in Jesus’ lexicon, is to do good and bless and pray and give...and so on.

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