Another Kind of Love
by Lois Tverberg
Hebrew has very few words that are abstract and do not have a physical component. As a result, verbs that we consider mental activities usually also describe a physical outcome as well. The word for listen, shema, also means to obey - the result of listening. Likewise, the verb for see, ra'ah, can mean to respond to a need.
It is helpful to know that this is also true for the word for love, ahavah (a-hah-VAH). Besides our conventional meaning, ahavah also can mean "to act lovingly toward," or "to be loyal to." In ancient treaties, an enemy king who signed a covenant of peace with another king would pledge to "love" the king - meaning to act loyally, not necessarily to have warm thoughts about him. When the Israelites were commanded to love God with all of their hearts as part of their covenant, it isn't so much a demand for passionate feelings as much as to utterly commit their lives to him as their only God.
Understanding this aspect of love can give us some wisdom about Jesus' words. For instance, when he says, "Love your enemies," he may have been thinking of our actions toward them more than having affection toward them within ourselves. His words to "love our enemies" seem to be synonymous with the next phrase, "do good towards those who hate you " - treat them fairly, don't act in revenge, be kind no matter how unkind they are to you. When someone acts cruelly towards us, we don't need to lie to ourselves about what they are like. But if we do our best to show love, our feelings are bound to change over time.
| ©2004 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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