The Greek word agape is often translated "love" in the New Testament. How is "agape love" different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.
Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to do so, and He must be true to His nature and character.
It all starts here. It all starts with Him. Nothing else in life matters unless we get this right and understand that there is NOTHING we can do to escape the love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)
God’s love is displayed most clearly at the Cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). The object of agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.
In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. But again, it is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.
With that said, let me say this...nothing else I say today, tomorrow, or 10 weeks from now matters unless you grasp this. If you don't read anything else I write, I hope you understand that there is a God who is bigger than you, more than capable of handling life's ups and downs, and who longs for a relationship with you that resembles an "agape" type of love.
If you have questions or want to know more, I would be truly honored to dive deeper into this with you. Making the decision to follow Christ will be the most important decision you will ever make and I'd be thrilled to help you get there.
Teaser for tomorrow : "Be good. Be sweet. I love you." -- My mom