The Agape Kind of Love
7th Sunday of Epiphany
Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Matthew 5: 38-48
We often hear the scriptures but we don’t always register these in our minds and hearts. We can read from cover to cover and yet not know its full meaning. We listen to scriptures but do not grasp it. In the last recent Sundays, we’ve heard about God’s restoration. But even if we know we have been restored, we somehow still live in captivity. Scriptures today talk about the law. Have we grasped its meaning? Exodus 21:24-26 “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.”
Deuteronomy 19:21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. These things were written because of the limitation of revenge. It was written for the judge in those days to be able to judge fairly.
Proverbs 24:29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”
When Jesus came, He changed this law. He said there should be no retaliation. We see this so clearly at the cross when He died for all. He says if someone takes your tunic, give him your cloak. Do not be bitter but be merciful. Christians should not stand on their rights but by their duties and obligations. Not on priviledges but responsibilities. In the olden times, there was a law that said if someone had taken your property, your farm, or animals or if you borrowed money but had no means to pay it back immediately, after 7 years, then you are suppose to pay these back. Today, however, if we lose something, we do not pay it back.
God says we are to give to the needy. It’s an obligation. Be holy just as your heavenly Father is holy. In the beginning, when the Godhead was in planning, the imagery of our lives have already been established. When we were created out of the dust of the earth, He breathed life to us for us to become living, breathing human beings. When we see Him, we will know Him because we will be like Him. All throughout Scriptures, this is always emphasized; “we are like Him.”
1 Peter 1:16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
The need to understand the power God has given us. God deals with us in love. There are 4 different classifications:
Storge – in Greek, means family love.
Eros- love between a man and a woman.
Philia- man’s most true and honest friend.
Agape- Benevolence. God’s unconditional love and forgiveness to us.
Our purpose in life is to be like Him. What we have done was taking the world system and using it as our own pattern. We are to be perfect. The true understanding of “perfect” is being complete. Being like Christ. (Telos)
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
We are on a growth journey. Like a child who has first to be carried and cared for. But as we grow, we learn to become independent. God is speaking to us. We need to know our purpose and our goal. He has given us the ability to overcome our feelings of anger and bitterness. We are to be perfect. This is the maturity we are reaching for. To Adam, He said; “Cultivate and keep the earth.” To us, He is saying; “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” We have work to do because He is coming back to a glorious church. When we produce the benevolence of God, we will have that Agape love. Having a true genuine concern for man, manifesting the character of Christ and having the calmness even in the midst of tough situations. Without God’s love, we cannot love. We should know who we are in Christ.