“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5
Agape love. Every Christian has heard the term, but with so many different meanings of the word “love,” do we understand agape love? Agape love is unconditional, selfless, sacrificial love. It is love that has no boundaries; it has no end. It is love that never fails, a love that gives us hope.
The type of love that characterizes God is not a sappy, sentimental feeling some people think it is. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely, not because we deserve to be loved or because of any excellence we possess, but because it is His nature to love and He must be true to His nature.
This is probably why 1 Corinthians 13 describes love (and by extension God) with a laundry list of concepts: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” This is also why, within each of us, the presence of God naturally expresses itself in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Agape love is unconditional, willful love. It’s a choice we make to love another person whether they love us back or not. It means that you choose to love someone even if he or she is our enemy. We are told, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32) This is agape love, that you willfully show kindness, even when you don’t “like” someone; that you willfully forgive, even when you don’t feel like it. Agape love makes it possible to “love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
Now, this kind of love presents a real challenge for us Christians. It’s tough to live out because it’s hard to love someone who doesn’t respond to you in the way we’d like. And no matter how much we try to avoid difficult people, there will always be certain individuals—even within the body of Christ—who are just hard to love. And yet, God’s Word is very clear: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) Now, you couldn’t find a clearer command about what we’re called to do as followers of Jesus Christ.
We love because God loved us first. Let us love others with an agape kind of love.
- What does agape love mean to you?
- What can we do this week to demonstrate an agape kind of love?