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!