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Vol.  9  No. 11 November 2007  Page 10
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Mike BensonEducated Love

ByMike Benson

    From our twenty-first century perspective, Christian love is a sensate quality. It is something experiential; it is something that we feel internally. Love is a warm, affectionate, reciprocal bond that is shared by brethren.

    When the apostle Paul petitioned God on behalf of the Philippian saints, he said, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and discernment” (Philippians 1:9). Did you catch that? “…that your love [Greek, agape] may abound…in knowledge and discernment.” Arthur Pink, in his work, Gleaning from Paul, made the following observation about his passage: “The apostle longed that their love might be so informed and their understanding so guided by spiritual judgment and sense that on all occasions they would be able to distinguish between truth and error in doctrine” (p. 209).

    His point merits our attention. The modern concept of love, in at least some segments of the church today, is more of an emotional sentimentality (cf. Romans 10:2), as opposed to the informed, judicial agape that Paul desired for his brethren in Philippi.1 For many, love is an unconditional, familial acceptance that overlooks, and even ignores, objective truth. In fact, it is frequently viewed as an acceptable substitute for soundness of doctrine (cf. 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1). Brethren are afraid to offend anyone—under any circumstance—and so their relationship to a brother, family member or friend supersedes their allegiance to divine will (cf. Luke 14:26).

    While there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying warm feelings toward another child of God (cf. Philippians 1:3-8; 13-14), the real basis of any tie must be something much more tangible than the fleeting whims of emotion. Our love must not be a blind, unguided affection for any personality (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12), but one that is spiritually discriminating—i.e., an “educated” devotion (cf. Hebrews 5:14).


1It was a “knowing” [Greek -- spignosis] love that enabled them to become better acquainted with the truth of Scripture (Strong, The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 1098), and it was a “judicial” [Greek -- aesthesis] love that helped them to make proper moral decisions “in the vast array of differing and difficult choices” (Hawthorne, as quoted by Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 448).

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