Agape Love Solves Relationship Problems!
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).
In this article, when I mention love, I am referring to a pure love that comes from the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for this unusual love is agape. It is a love that sees others as valuable and precious, and loves others, not because of what they do or don’t do, but loves others based on their value as a human being made in the image of God. I have to mention this because the word love is used so loosely in our language that it can easily be misunderstood. With that being understood, here we go!
Here is the Amplified Bible’s description of this agape love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (AMP)
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. 5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not 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 [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. 7 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]. 8 Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].
This kind of love is the solution to every relationship problem known to man. We’re to love God with our entire being. We’re to love others the way we love ourselves. Then Jesus added that we are to love others the way He loves us! John 13:34-35 (NKJV) reads: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Romans 13:10 reads: Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. So for every relational challenge I encounter I must see love as the cure.
Here’s the best part. The Father has already placed inside of us as believers the answers to our issues with others. This love that He has placed in our hearts must be nurtured until it is absorbed into all of our mental processes. The Father’s plan is that this love wiggle its way into every nook and cranny of our thought life; into every response in each relationship. He wants it to totally replace our ingrained selfish patterns of thinking and response.
Our mind fights love’s control. The mind of the flesh is the enemy of God (Romans 8:7). Our natural mind automatically repels thoughts that come from our spirit to act and react in love. That’s the reason we must take much time to meditate in love until it is absorbed into our mental processes. What I mean is that we take 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and slowly read them over and over, and think about how they apply to us and our relationships with others. Without this kind of meditation, our minds will pull us away from godly love and force us to live a self-centered, fleshly form of love.
We must see that this love is so powerful, so potentially life altering, that we give it room to change us. Every thought and action within us that has become an ingrained habit can be changed by yielding to love’s sway. There are no exceptions. Agape Love is the most powerful force known to man.
When we allow this agape love to rule us, it takes us out of the center of life, and replaces us and our wants and desires with God’s wants and desires for every person we meet! And this is the way it eliminates selfishness. And selfishness always robs us of life’s best, and selfishness hurts our relationships with others.
Our goal must be to yield ourselves to this agape love moment by moment. Compare every thought, every word, and every action to this love. Change anything in you that disagrees with the love of God. This is our high calling, to be the love men and love women. To be so totally absorbed in this agape love that it’s the first thing people notice about us!
John was known as the apostle of love. I’ll leave you with his words on the subject from the Message Paraphrase:
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love — so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about — not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us — perfect love! This is how we know we're living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He's given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day — our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love — love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.
(I John 4: 7-21 - from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)