By Pastor Mitch Horton | December 2006 | Posted in • Featured Content | (0) Comments
In the last issue, we began discussing the importance of Agape love in our lives as Christians. To function in the kingdom of God, it’s necessary to flow in Agape love. On the other hand, Satan’s dark kingdom is based on strife, envy, and self-centeredness, and brings with it confusion and every evil work.
Our natural minds are steeped in self-centeredness instead of Agape love. If left alone without being renewed, our natural minds will crowd out any attempt to walk in the Agape love of God. For our minds to be renewed to this love which has been placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, it will be necessary for us to take time to meditate on and ponder the characteristics of Agape on a regular basis. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes in detail the characteristics of this new love. Let’s dig in and examine them now.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 reads, Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never fails…
The first characteristic of Agape found in verse four above is that love suffers long. The Greek word for suffers long is makrothumia, and means to be long tempered. It is the willingness to restrain yourself for the sake of another – giving up your own rights and privileges. How many times have we lost our temper over petty things? Love endures hardships in life and relationships without becoming hard to live with. Love can go through challenging circumstances with a patient smile, because it expects God to work in them. Many people suffer long alright, but they are not patient and kind while going through the challenge!
Next in verse four is that love is kind. The Greek word for kind is chrestotes – an active, not passive, gentleness. This means that a person who loves will show a sincere interest in others and their affairs, and then actively seek their welfare. A person motivated by Agape will go out of their way to look for ways to help another person. They don’t sit by wishing things could be better. A person moved by love’s kindness is moved to action to bring help and aid. Do you act this way when undergoing the challenges of life?
In the book, The Life of Faith by Mrs. C. Nuzum, she relates, Love works by being kind even under long, continued suffering – real, deep suffering brought upon us by someone else – Love will be very kind to that person.1
The third characteristic of Agape is that love does not envy. The Greek word for envy is the word zeloo, and from this word we get our word our word jealous. Agape is not jealous in its relationships. A person walking in Agape is not focusing on themselves; they are focusing first of all on their relationship with the Lord, then putting themselves and their needs last. A jealous person is thinking only of themselves and how another person’s actions are affecting them! A person who is jealous is careful to hold onto and maintain their own rights and possessions at all costs.
Again, Mrs. C. Nuzum comments, It [Agape] does not desire the position, honor, power, benefits, favor, esteem or blessings that others have, but is glad to see other people enjoy blessings, and would rather help them to get more than to take from them anything they have.2
The fourth characteristic of Agape is that love does not parade itself. The Greek word for parade itself is perpereuomai, and comes from the Greek word perperos, which means a braggart, or a person who parades themselves and their accomplishments and talents before others. This is a person who loves to show off. A person who is insecure in themselves looks for ways to be elevated in others’ eyes. When a person is secure in God’s love and who they are in Christ, personal accomplishments and talents are simply tools by which to glorify God, and there is no need for self-glory. Personal bragging is really founded in personal pride! Being secure in God’s unconditional love and acceptance frees us from the need to gain approval from others, and frees us from the need to show off.
Being secure in love also frees us from the need that some have to put others down with sarcasm or cutting comments in order to make themselves look better. With Agape in force in our lives, we find it easy to keep quiet about genuine achievements. To quote Mrs. C. Nuzum again, Love does not think, I know how things ought to be done- my opinions and advice are better than the opinion and advice of others – I live better, am used of God more, know more than the other person.3
The fifth characteristic of love is that love is not puffed up. The Greek word for inflate is the word phusioo, and means to inflate. A person with Agape ruling them has no need for others to see their accomplishments. A person living in Agape may acknowledge success, but knows that all success comes from God. No self-congratulations are necessary.
Though Agape doesn’t show off or need affirmation, it is also important to note that true humility can accept genuine thanks and applause for good performance. I learned this in my own life almost 30 years ago after performing the special music during a Thursday night church service. Someone came to me and told me how beautiful they thought my voice was and how well I had performed the song. To which I replied, It wasn’t me, brother, it was just the Lord! My friend who had complimented me then abruptly took me to a side hallway and told me that I was actually walking in a false humility, that if I were truly self-effacing and humble, I would say a simple thank you to any person complimenting my performance. I should afterward get alone and give God all the glory for using me to bless others, deflecting the thanks privately to Him who helped me.
The last characteristic of Agape that we will examine in this issue is that love does not behave rudely. The Greek word for rudely is achemoneo, and means to assume a negative form, or to act in an unbecoming way. This word has to do with proper social graces. A loving person will not do or say things, or assume attitudes of which later he or she will be ashamed, or that would bring shame to Jesus and to the kingdom of God. Love never acts in an ugly, shameful way, with crudeness, violence, off-color language, or anything else disrespectful. A person walking in Agape will be diligent to do what is appropriate for the moment or the occasion. Agape always maintains good manners in all situations. To get real with this one, a person walking in Agape will never display course or crude behavior in public (cursing, slang, off-color language, body noises such as burping, flatulence, excessive or not enough clothing, etc.) Our present culture desperately needs some lessons in this!
Take some time to meditate on the characteristics of Agape during this Christmas season. The world is looking for us to be the salt and light we’re destined to become! We’ll continue in next month’s issue.
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