By Pastor Mitch Horton | May 2001 | Posted in • Archives | (0) Comments
In our last issue, we discussed the importance of demonstrating agape love to others. We contrasted agape, the Greek word for the love of God that is placed in our spirits by the Holy Spirit when we’re born again, and phileo, which is the Greek word for the self-centered love that is common to the human family.
Notice the importance that is placed on agape love in the following scriptures:
“Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire this love, make it your aim, your great quest…” (1 Corinthians 14:1, Amplified).
“Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us….....” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3:14).
“......love one another fervently with a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22).
Far from being a side issue, love should be the central focus of our Christian lives. We’re living in an increasingly selfish culture. As we get busier, the tendency is to become more self-absorbed. I believe that Jesus spoke to this end-time tendency very pointedly in Matthew 24:12, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
But the Word of God says in Romans 5:20, “.....But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” This is the greatest time in history to operate in agape love! Our culture is desperate for unselfish love.
In contrast to phileo love, which is based on feeling, agape love is an action based on our relationship with Jesus! Agape is not based on feelings at all!
God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). Stephen prayed for forgiveness for his murderers while the stones that they threw were taking his life (Acts 7:60)! Jesus said to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus gave Judas, who later would betray Him, a sop of bread, which, in that day was a token of highest affection and honor (Matthew 26:23).
None of these actions had anything to do with feelings of love! They were based on a decision to obey the command from the love nature of the Father. Agape love could simply be defined as doing the loving thing.
For us to operate in agape love, we have to make the decision to deny our feelings and natural human tendencies. It’s not natural to walk in agape love. We have to make a decision to do it on purpose.
When we make the decision to act in love toward others, we’re going to have some uncomfortable times in the flesh! Agape love doesn’t satisfy our fleshly human tendencies to be satisfied and cozy.
The will of God is not always comfortable to our flesh! Contrary to popular thinking, Christianity is not about self-satisfaction! It’s about self-sacrifice, putting others before ourselves, and choosing to obey God regardless of the discomfort placed on the flesh.
When we make the decision to walk in love, we are really surrendering our rights to a bigger cause, the kingdom of God! We Americans love our individual rights! But as Christians, we are citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and Gods laws supercede our natural rights.
Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25, “.....If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” This quote from Jesus is mentioned in every gospel and I believe that this emphasizes its importance. He is expressing here our need to keep the flesh under.
The cross is where our will and the will of God meet. And when our will is contrary to His, we should yield to Him no matter what the cost! The cross is also a place where flesh dies. When we follow Jesus, we must be willing to constantly say no to the flesh and natural human tendencies, and yes to the will of God. And we show this by our actions, not by our feelings!
The Message paraphrase of Luke 14:33 sums it up well, “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple.”
God has planned for us to live our lives based on agape love everyday! I’ll close with a quote of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 in the Amplified New Testament. Meditate on it, and decide today to crucify your flesh and to do the loving thing in all circumstances . It’s the agape way! And it’s the will of God for you!
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealously; it is not boastful or vainglorious, does nor display itself haughtily. It is not conceited - arrogant and inflated with pride; it is nor rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love [God’s love in us] does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it - pays no attention to a suffered wrong. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails- never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end.”
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