Discern Affectionate and Compassionate Love

It is common for all preachers to say ‘love your enemies’ in Christianity. However, if we don’t fully understand what it means, we will never understand how Christ loved His enemies as serpents, dogs and foxes and not as His brothers, sisters and mothers and we will be deceived.

Affectionate Love

(Gen 22:2) Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
(Gen 24:67) Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s [death.]

The expression of this love is only for people who are extremely close to each other and used when affection is shown.

(Song 8:6-7) Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy [as] cruel as the grave; Its flames [are] flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

This is the love God expects: You can clearly see this in Greek language.

(John 21:15-17) So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love (ἀγαπάω agapao) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (affection φιλέω phileo) You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love (ἀγαπάω agapao) Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (affectionφιλέω phileo) You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love (affection / φιλέω phileo) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (affection φιλέω phileo) You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

It looks as though Jesus is asking the exact same question thrice. Even though the question is same, not the love it refers to. First, Jesus Christ asks if Peter loves him which refers to merciful and kind love and Peter always answered saying he loved Him which refers to affection. However, the last time when Jesus asked, He asked Peter if he loved him affectionately. This was when Jesus foretold how He would die for Him. This is the ‘affectionate’ or ‘phileo’ love is what we are required to love God.

(Matt 22:37-38) Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is [the] first and great commandment.

We love our brothers and sisters in Christ because of Christ whom we love affectionately. Without Christ, he is not even a brother to have brotherly affectionate love.

(1Thess 4:9) But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 

(Heb 13:1) Let brotherly love continue. 

(John 15:12-14) This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 

(2Cor 6:14) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

This phileo love or the fellowship is not for unbelievers and sinners. In other-words, a Christian must never even have an unbelieving or a sinning friend.

Compassionate Love

(Lev 19:33-34) And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

(Luke 6:27-35) But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the [one] cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold [your] tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask [them] back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend [to those] from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 

(Matt 5:43-48) ” You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more [than others?] Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

(Matt 22:39-40) And [the] second [is] like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

This love is about being compassionate or merciful and kind to all, even strangers, enemies, unbelievers and sinners. You are neither called to be affectionate with strangers and enemies nor required to have fellowship with sinners and unbelievers who are persecuting you. Jesus also did the same.

(Luke 23:34) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Jesus also loved His enemies who crucified Him by being merciful and forgave them. This is not the same love with which He loved the Father.

Merciful love is not without hate. This is the very nature of God Himself and we see throughout Scriptures.

(Ps 11:5) The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 

(Ezek 33:11) “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 

(1Tim 2:3-4) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The Lord hates the wicked but has no pleasure in the death of him. Instead He is merciful and will forgive if the wicked repents. This is the same message Christ also preached.

(Matt 18:32-34) “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Bible also instructs the same to us.

(1John 2:15) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 

(Ps 139:21-24) Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if [there is any] wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

How can we having the Spirit of God within us, love differently from how God showed compassion towards the wicked and affection or brotherly love towards our brothers in Christ. However, we are neither called to avenge nor have vengeance ourselves, but be merciful and forgive them. Vengeance belongs to God.

(Rom 12:17-21) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Conclusion

Discern love using the Bible and do not be deceived. If anyone preaches to love sinners with affection and have fellowship with unbelievers which Bible strictly forbids, know that it is not a teaching from the Bible.