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Thursday, March 8, 2012

What is Agape Love - Part 2

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - 4 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. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Why is it important that we know what love, agape love is? Jesus said His disciples, His followers would be identified by His love (John 13:35). Scripture also tells us that Christians are to be compelled or motivated by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14ff.). If a Christian is known and identified by love then they can’t really be an effective Christian if they aren’t informed about that which should be the basis of their identity. If agape love is to be our driving motivating force in all we do, then we need to know what that love is so that what we do is done to the glory of God. Agape love is important therefore, because it define who we are and how we live. Christians are a product of God’s agape love (Rom. 5:8). Agape love is God’s will for us. Agape love defines who we are. Agape love is the substance of genuinely saved Christians. That is why understanding agape love is important.

Now we continue with our consideration of What is Agape Love? We have seen a lot of what agape love isn’t. Now we will see more of what agape love is. What does agape love do? What positive actions does it take?

Eleventh, love rejoices in the truth (13:6b). Love rejoices when the truth comes out (“truth” – ἀλήθεια alēthĕia, al-ay´-thi-a;” truth). And when the truth does come out, they don’t quip, “They got theirs.” No, love rejoices when the truth of justice bears out, when sinners come to repentance and faith in Christ (2 Corinthians 7:9-16).

Twelfth, love bears all things (13:7a). To bear all things means to cover with silence (στέγω - stĕgō, steg´-o). It means to roof over, to cover with silence, endure patiently, forbear, and suffer.” Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love doesn’t sweep sin under the carpet, but it also doesn’t dig up offenses to use as ammunition against people (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9). Like Jesus, a loving person is willing to suffer in silence when wronged (Matthew 26:62-63; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:21-25). A loving person is willing to bear weaker brethren (Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:2). Jesus bears us; we should bear with others.

Thirteenth, love believes all things (13:7b). This doesn’t mean that love is stupid or gullible. It means that love is willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. It means that the person who loves, loves God so much they are willing to entrust in faith all things to Him (“believes” – πιστεύω - pistĕuō, pist-yoo´-o). It means to have faith in God enough to entrust people to Him.

Fourteenth, love hopes all things (13:7c). Love looks to the promise of God to make things right in the end. Love looks to the future with a faith and assurance that God will do right in the end. His will is sure to be accomplished to His glory. Hope (ἐλπίζω - ĕlpizō, el-pid´-zo) is faith in God for the future based on God and His word (Romans 15:4, 13).

Fifteenth, love endures all things (13:7d). To “endure” (ὑπομένω - hupŏmĕnō, hoop-om-en´-o) means, “to stay under, remain; to undergo, bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere; abide, endure, take patiently, suffer, tarry behind.” Love just doesn’t give up. Love stays and continues under the hand of God no matter what. Love abides in Jesus (John 15). Love finishes well (2 Timothy 1:12).

Agape love rejoices in the truth and bears all things, it believes and hopes all things, it endures all things. These are very beautiful but somewhat abstract descriptions of agape love. But agape love is anything but merely an abstraction. It is concrete, the bedrock of life; the oil that quiets life’s squeaks and that makes the mechanisms of relationships and the church work. What is agape love in action? An unknown writer put it this way:

What is love? It is silence--when your words would hurt. It is patience--when your neighbor's curt. It is deafness--when a scandal flows. It is thoughtfulness--for other's woes. It is promptness--when stern duty calls. It is courage--when misfortune falls.

We’ve spoke in great detail about what love is. But we miss the substance of this description of the more excellent way of love if we fail to realize that this is a picture of Jesus. If we insert the name of Jesus in the place of the word love in these verses, we have a beautiful picture of Jesus. What happens if we try and insert our names in the place of love in this passage? Your answer to that question will go a long way in determining your spiritual maturity. God is love (1 John 4:8). Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 14; 8:58; 10:30; 14:9). Jesus is love, agape love.

Paul then states, “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” If you want what you do for the Lord to be empowered and overcoming, do it in love. If you want what you do for the Lord to endure, do it in love. Love never fails. Think about that. Prophecies fail, tongues will stop and knowledge will disappear, but love and that which is done in love, will endure powerfully. Love overcomes the hard heart that loveless prophecies alone failed to move. Love reaches the throne of God in prayer where loveless tongues failed to break through the clouds of heaven. Love has staying power on the listener where loveless regurgitation of knowledge goes in one ear and out the other vanishing away. That is the anointing of God that is on whatever is done in agape love. That is agape love.

By now only the hardest heart would not be moved by God’s agape love. We need more of this kind of love. But this is not something we can drum up on our own. Agape love is something God must pour into our hearts. He will do that if we invite Him to do so. But first we must turn from our sin, repent, and ask His forgiveness. We must do this through faith in Christ. Jesus alone is our atoning sacrifice. He died on the cross to pay our penalty and sin debt. Salvation from our sins is a gift of God’s grace to be received by faith. When we do that, God then gives us spiritual life by the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Then we embark on a life of holiness worked in us by the Holy Spirit. He conforms us to the likeness of Jesus who “is love.” This is a fantastic prospect and promise. In fact scripture states, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Agape love is a gift of God, received through faith in Christ, worked in and trough us by the Holy Spirit. Receive it now. Live it forever.

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