Daily Devotion | Day 277
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9, NKJV).
Love is conditional. I know. We don’t like to think of love as conditional. But let’s face it. Love is discriminatory by nature. All love is not the same. If it were, love wouldn’t be real. If anyone tells you he/she loves you unconditionally, perhaps they mean well, but you will do yourself a favor by not taking it literally. Love has conditions. And, it’s not a bad thing.
The love you have for your friends is not the same love you have for your spouse. If it’s the same, there’s a problem. Sacrifices you will make for your spouse will not be the same sacrifices you will make for your boss. The love you will show for your parents is not the same love you will show for your pets (hopefully!). Even among your children, it is possible you love one child more than the others (You may not admit it, for obvious reasons, but it’s there, and you know it).
Love differs in degree and intensity depending on the object of love. Love for God is not on the same level as love for your pastor, for example. Love for God leads to worship, but your love for people should not lead you to worship them. You can’t love your enemies the same way you love your friends. There’s a kind of love that is available only to those with whom you have fellowship. You can love everyone, but you can’t love everyone the same way and to the same degree. For love to be love, it must be conditional.
Jesus is no different. His love is available to all, but He does not love everyone the same way. He loves some people more than others. For example, His love for the Church (His bride) comes ahead of His love for everyone else. In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus is praying to the Father. He says, “I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” Here, He is exercising conditional love. He is not saying He hates the world. He is merely stating that His intercession is for those who believe in Him, including those who will believe in the future (John 17:20).
Of course, in Isaiah 53:12, we’re told that Jesus interceded for transgressors as part of His redemptive sacrifice. Yet, at the right hand of God, He represents and intercedes for His saints – those who belong to Him and love Him (Romans 8:33-39; Hebrews 7:23-25).
Love is a two-way affair. You can love in the general sense by extending kindness to all, including those who hate you (Matthew 5:43-44). But in the concrete sense, love must be mutual and reciprocal. This is the kind of love God wants from His people. It is also why He reserves special love, attention and blessings for those who love Him.
For example, “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). For those who don’t love God, this blessing doesn’t apply. Listen to Jesus: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
Even God’s forgiveness is conditional. If it were not, everyone in the world would have a blanket forgiveness leading to automatic universal salvation: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
It takes two to be in love. Jesus loves us; but to benefit from His love, we need to reciprocate.
Blessing: May grace, peace and love be multiplied unto you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: Romans 9:1-26 and Psalm 91:1-16