Agape Love

There is an exercise that has been a wonderful blessing to me throughout my life. I Corinthians 13: 4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Now re-read those passages again and every time it says “love” or “it” insert your name.

_____ is patient, _____ is kind. _____ does not envy, _____ does not boast, _____ is not proud. _____ does not dishonor others, ______ is not self-seeking, _____ is not easily angered, _____keeps no record of wrongs. _____ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. _____ always protects, _____ always trusts, _____ always hopes, _____ always perseveres.

That is agape love. That is perfect, unselfish, unconditional love; the type of love God has for us.

God’s love for us does not depend on what we do; it’s completely dependent on Him. Unconditional love does not depend on anything the other person says or does.  As we love others with that same love, we reflect the agape love we’ve been given.

Imagine, your love for your husband has nothing to do with what he does or says. Your love for your children is not based on what they do or how they act. Your love for your parents holds no record of wrongs, but instead protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.

Agape love means you support, and encourage your friend, even though it feels like you often give more than you receive. Even if they forget your birthday or if they always vent their frustrations without ever asking about yours; agape love does not depend on what they do, it depends on what you choose to do. Agape love is motivated by a Servant’s heart because of how Jesus loved us.

Agape love means you love your husband with a perfect love whether he takes out the garbage or not, whether he forgets your anniversary or brings you flowers, regardless of the unkind or insensitive things he may say, you choose to love him with no conditions on that love. Your love for him is not dependent on what he does. You love him because you choose to love him. He is the object of your love, you have chosen to love him and be with him. Unconditional means there are no conditions in which you would not love him. This does not mean we do not have expectations and boundaries in our relationships, God certainly has expectations for us and has established clear boundaries, but he loves us regardless.  

That is the love God has for us. There is nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make him love us less. His love is perfect.

And because He has done this for us, we now share that same love with others, “We love each other, because he loved us first.” (I Johns 4:19 NLT)

This is a tall order and I fall short every day. Fortunately there is forgiveness, due to his agape love for me. However, his mercies are new every morning, and each day we begin again.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” (I John 4:16 NLT)

There is a lot of pressure when we insert our name in the blank of love. A wise friend recently reminded me that it’s not us, we have a God that IS love and fulfills it in every way. Any love from us that is pure and acceptable is the love of God. You have that love, and you can share that love!

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Exploding [Unconditional] Love

My kids and I have begun a fun little game where they try to explode me. With love, that is. When they’re being so sweet and loving, I tell them that they’re filling me with so much love I’m going to explode. Then I act out the explosion. They do it on purpose now, with the motivation of “exploding” me. It’s fun when love is like that, isn’t it? When someone says or does something showing their love, it’s easy to feel, speak, and show that love back. That’s the easy part. However, we live in a sinful world.

We need to remember that sin has infected all of us. You and everyone you love are flawed, sinful creatures, incapable of acting or loving perfectly in relationships and in life.

It’s when people have said things that hurt or didn’t say things you wish they would have that the “sacrificial” and “unconditional” come into play. When people make choices that make things harder on you and others, showing love then is the whole point.

Showing that kind of love is what we are called to do, in order to point people to Jesus, who showed perfect sacrificial love when we were nowhere close to deserving it.

Luke 6:27, “But to you who are listening, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

Sometimes I think we get confused about loving our enemies, and showing unconditional love when others are not.

Showing unconditional love sometimes means turning the other cheek, and allowing things to roll off our back. However, it does not mean always staying quiet, enduring, looking the other way, and avoiding confrontation.

Unconditional love is playing the long game.

Your ability to show sacrificial, unconditional love will increase as you prioritize your relationship with your Savior. As you pray for and study discernment, you’ll grow in wisdom and understanding about what to say and how to say it when difficult situations arise.

You’ll also learn to be quicker to forgive. You know why? Because in the Word you will see over and over how incredibly much God forgives His people, see that translate in your own life, seeing the incredible debts God has forgiven you. Suddenly, seeing someone else miss the mark comes from a place of understanding instead of victimization. You’ve been there, after all.

When someone does something, though, that is drawing them or others away from God in the big picture, it’s not showing unconditional love to shrug and think “No one’s perfect” and let it go. It’s a whole lot harder, but a whole lot more loving to raise that person up to the throne in prayer again and again, delving into scripture and seeking wisdom to know how best to handle that specific situation.

Sacrificial, unconditional, beautiful and true love is a commitment. We’ve been forgiven so, so much. Only drawing nearer to our debtor can we begin to comprehend how to show unconditional love.

Matthew 7: 3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We have been shown such incredible, unconditional, unchanging love. We have also been called to show that love to those people who have been placed in our lives. This is not an obligation, but a reflection, a show of gratitude for the incredible love that’s been shown to us.

Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you’re ever able to clear everything else from your mind and focus on the completely unbelievable love Christ has shown you, it may just lead you to explode with acts of love toward those around you.

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