May 1, 2019
We talk a lot about love but know less about it today than any generation since the time of Christ. It’s amazing how the word “love” can be misused.
Many think love is just a feeling—oceans of emotions. We get confused because English has only one word for love. But there are several kinds of love, and Scripture uses a different Greek word for each kind.
Eros is romantic love between a man and a woman.
Phileo is the brotherly love we feel for friends and companions.
Storge is the love family members have for each other.
But agape(pronounced “ah-gah’-pay”) is God’s love—the love He extends to everyone.
Love may contain feelings. But God’s love isn’t an emotion because the Bible commands us to love, and you cannot command an emotion. Think about it.
We cannot phileo or storge the world because those types of love involve feelings and emotions. But agape isn’t something you feel—it’s something you do. Agape is the love God commands us to give. Agape is results in action, not feelings. It’s listed first in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We can agape even those we don’t like, because to agape is a choice.
What is God’s agape love like? First Corinthians 13 perfectly summarizes ten aspects of it. Let’s do a little fruit inspecting. Are these ten qualities in your heart?
God’s agape love is longsuffering. If you’re impatient, then you’re unlike the Lord Jesus. “…having loved His own, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). Agape is longsuffering; it forgives 70 times 7, and then keeps right on.
Agape love doesn’t give what others deserve, but what they need. If someone has wronged you, find a way to be kind. You say, “They don’t deserve it.” That’s right. Agape serves those who don’t deserve it. Do good, speak well, pray hard for your enemies.
Agaperejoices when another is blessed. If I say I love you but cringe when you’re praised, if I think your gain is my loss, I don’t sincerely love you.
Agape is humble. It doesn’t swagger. Pride and love do not dwell in the same heart. If you’re filled with egotism and pride, you’re hard to be around. You’re argumentative. “Only by pride comes contention” (Pro. 13:10). Any contention in your home? The problem in our homes is ego against ego, self-love against self-love. Agape quells your pride.
Agape is courteous. A rude person is so unlike Jesus, who was meek and gentle, putting others first. Agape loves in little things. If you don’t love in little things, you won’t love in big things.
Agape doesn’t say, “Me first,” or “I know my rights.” When you were saved, you were crucified with Christ. You’re not your own; you’re bought with a price, and He has commanded you to love. When we stop thinking about our rights and seek to bless others, our world will change.
Agape is not easily provoked. If you want to know what you’re full of, just see what spills out when you’re jostled. If you quickly explode, the love of Jesus is missing within.
There’s no forgiveness without someone paying a price. If you owe me $10 and I forgive it, it costs me $10, doesn’t it? Bury past hurts in the grave of God’s forgetfulness. It costs to forgive.
Agape love doesn’t rejoice when someone falls. It weeps. When you hear of someone’s hurt or failure, you’re heartbroken over sin.
Agape is sacrificial. It’s the love that, choosing to love, also chooses to suffer. When you love someone, you risk that they may hurt and disappoint you. You cannot love without suffering. It “beareth all things.”
How did you do on these qualities? Examine your heart and ask: “Is this true in of me?”
The New English Bible puts it this way: “There is nothing love cannot face. There is no limit to its faith.” There’s a burden to bear when you love like God loves. His agape love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Agape is the love our world needs. My friend, that’s the fruit of the Spirit.
Do you find that you have work to do on your list? If so, then talk to the Lord about it.