Agape Love

What does agape love mean? For Christians, you hear about it all the time. Agape love is God’s love for us, but do you know the true gist of the word? What is God’s love? Can we have agape love, or does only God have the capacity to give it?

Well, the Bible mentions the word “agape” 200 times, and it is a word that most Christians know. However, the very true meaning of the word has often been misunderstood. Yes, it’s commonly known as God’s love, but to become better Christians, you would need to understand how God demonstrates it, and how you can show this kind of love as well.

Let’s begin by talking about what the word means.

What is Agape Love?

Agape is a Greek word that means “love.” It is one of 4 kinds of love in Greek, with “phileo” being brotherly love, “eros” being erotic love, “storge” being love between family members, and “agape,” meaning God’s love.

Agape is so much different than romantic, sentimental, or love that’s based on emotions. Agape is deemed by Christians as the highest form of love. It is the kind of love that is unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish, and expecting nothing in return. It is the purest kind of love, and not based on emotions or feelings or any kind of attachment. It is an act of true and complete sacrifice and surrenders without expecting anything in return.

It is considered as God’s love for us, which is not based on whether or not we are good followers. It is not based on our faith and loyalty to Him. It is not earned. It simply is unconditional love.

God simply loves us because we are His sons and daughters. Even those who do not believe in God are loved by God. Even those who are sinners are loved by God. Even those who are considered dirty and outcasts of society are loved by God.

It is the ultimate form of love and something that only God Himself can provide in its perfect form.

Agape Love in the Bible

In 1 John 4:8, the scripture says: “God is love.” And in many other books in the Bible, agape is mentioned a total of 200 times, with 106 mentions in the book of 1 John.

The concept of agape has been widely examined within the Christian context, and even in other religions. In the book of Corinthians, Paul perfectly explains what love is in Chapter 13. This scripture is famously known as the “Love Chapter,” where love is explained like this:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

As we can see from this passage, love is truly encompassing. It is not based on appearances, it is not based on how another person can make you feel, and it is not based on reciprocal love. Love simply loves, nothing more and nothing less. It does not require you to return back the love, and that is what agape love means.

Love is merely not an attribute of God because it is His true essence, no matter what you do, whether you worship Him or not. He simply loves you for being you, for simply existing, and you don’t even have to return His love.

Let us further dissect the different meanings and understandings of agape love.

  • Agape Love is God’s Grace

1 John 4:7-8 says: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We know that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. He is everywhere at all times, He is all-powerful, and He is all-knowing. But God is also all-loving. There is no motivation behind God’s love for us. He doesn’t love us so that we will worship Him, obey Him, or be good Christians. He doesn’t expect anything in return because God is purely made of love.

It is love at the highest level, it is selfless, sacrificial love, and perfect. God does not have to act on it, because it is His whole essence.

It’s like a person who’s loving to everyone in his life, and everyone he meets. He loves his family, his friends, his co-workers, his things, nature, and everything in the world. But sadly, this kind of loving attitude rarely exists or if it even exists at all. As humans, we are prone to different emotions, and not just happiness or joy, but also anger, jealousy, and contempt. Unfortunately, all human beings feel negative emotions. That is why God’s love, also now as agape love, is so unique because only God can give this kind of love to us.

  • Agape Love is Sacrificial Love

John 3:16 goes: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Agape love is sacrifice. God loves us so much that He sacrificed His only son, Jesus Christ, to save humankind from their sins. God never considered Himself but the good of humankind when He gave us His son. Agape love is unconcerned with what the self needs or feels, but concerned with the great good of another. And He did so without expecting anything from us in return. This kind of sacrifice is what agape love is all about.

  • Agape Love is Not about Feeling, but it is about Action

John 15:13 says: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

God has taught us to love one another. He has taught us to love our neighbors and even our enemies. Love is not merely an emotion, but it must be shown in action. It is not simply enough that we love another person and we praise them or tell them that we love them in words.

Agape love is truly doing something for another that benefits them, even at the cost of your own life. This is the greatest form of love that someone can express. And it is done by God every single day, showing us how much He loves us by giving us life.

God showed us His selfless love when He gave us Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins.

  • Humans Must Imitate God’s Unconditional Agape Love

Ephesians 5:1 -2 says: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice from God.”

Jesus told His followers to love one another in the same sacrificial way that God has loved us. However, agape love does not come naturally to us because we are naturally sinful. As humans, we are slaves to our emotions. We cannot always love our neighbors, we cannot always love our family, and we can’t even always love our spouse. But, by knowing God’s Word and experiencing His love, we are able to understand what real love truly means.

When we study the Word of God, when we study the stories of agape love demonstrated by Jesus, and God’s grace, we are able to learn how to love others in a more unconditional way. We may not be able to imitate God in its complete essence of purity, but we can come close to demonstrating this kind of love.

It is not just about feeling or attachments to someone, but it is about choosing to love. It is a deliberate striving or wanting good things for someone else, without expecting anything in return. Jesus also used the parable of the Samaritan to show us that we should love one another even when we know they can never repay us in the future.

Agape love is not just about God’s love and our love for Him, but love that we choose to express to one another, our booths and sisters in mankind.

How to Cultivate Agape Love in Your Life

Cultivating agape love begins with understanding and acknowledging that our human ability to love is imperfect. As God is the source of pure and unconditional love, we should first seek a relationship with Him. Spend time in His word, in prayer, and in worship, in order to experience His agape love. This will not only make you understand the essence of agape love, but it will also start transforming your heart.

After this, try to embody this love in your interactions with others. Here are a few practical steps:

  1. Practice Empathy: Try to understand the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of others. This assists in developing selflessness which is a fundamental aspect of agape love.
  2. Perform Acts of Kindness: Acts of kindness, whether big or small, show love in action. It might be as simple as a smile, a kind word or more deliberate acts like charity.
  3. Forgiveness: Agape love requires forgiving those who’ve wronged us, just as Christ forgave us. This doesn’t mean forgetting the hurt but choosing to let go of resentment.
  4. Love without Expectations: To love like God, we need to love without expecting anything in return. This is hard but can be achieved gradually with conscious practice.

Remember, agape love is not a feeling but a decision; a commitment to care and seek the best for others despite their faults, flaws, or differences. It’s a journey, not a destination, so don’t be hard on yourself when you falter. Instead, use these instances as opportunities for growth and continue striving to love as God loves us.

Benefits of Having an Agape Love Mindset

Adopting an agape love mindset can lead to a profound transformation in your life and relationships. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Improves Relationships: By prioritizing the needs of others and practicing forgiveness, agape love can deepen and strengthen relationships. It allows you to understand and empathize with others in a more meaningful way.
  2. Promotes Personal Growth: Agape love challenges you to grow beyond your comfort zone. It encourages selflessness, empathy, kindness, and forgiveness – qualities that promote personal development and maturity.
  3. Fosters Inner Peace: By letting go of resentment and embracing forgiveness, agape love can cultivate a sense of inner peace and contentment. It reduces stress and anxiety, leading to a healthier mental state.
  4. Develops Resilience: Agape love fosters resilience in the face of adversity. It can help you navigate through life’s challenges by focusing on the well-being of others rather than dwelling on personal problems.
  5. Enhances Self-esteem: When you engage in selfless acts of kindness, it boosts your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. It also helps you to see yourself as a valuable contributor to society.
  6. Promotes Unity: Agape love encourages inclusivity and unity. It doesn’t discriminate or harbor prejudice but instead promotes understanding and acceptance of all people, fostering harmony within communities.

In essence, an agape love mindset is a powerful tool for personal and societal transformation. By practicing it, we can experience a deeper connection with others, promote individual and collective well-being, and make the world a better place.

The Importance of Selflessness in Demonstrating Love

Selflessness is a paramount virtue when it comes to demonstrating agape love. It is the epitome of putting others before oneself and it is this very characteristic that underscores God’s love for mankind.

At its core, selflessness is about prioritizing the needs and interests of others ahead of our own. It is about being willing to make sacrifices for others, even when there is no expectation of receiving anything in return.

In the context of love, being selfless means loving without any ulterior motives. It means loving others for who they are, not for what they can offer or how they can benefit us. It requires us to let go of our self-centeredness and ego, thereby allowing us to love unconditionally and freely, just as God loves us.

However, embodying selflessness is not an easy task. It challenges us, pushing us out of our comfort zones. It means overlooking our own desires and needs for the sake of others. Despite this challenge, choosing the path of selflessness is essentially choosing the path of love – a decision that leads to fulfillment, peace, and a deeper understanding of the true meaning of love.

In conclusion, selflessness is a critical aspect of agape love. By choosing to be selfless, we are choosing to mimic God’s love, thereby bringing ourselves closer to the true essence of love. This practice, while challenging, can lead to profound personal growth and can profoundly impact our relationships and our understanding of love in its purest form.

Final Thoughts

Agape love is simply known as God’s love and humankind’s love for God. But it’s more than just that. It is the divine love expressed by the perfect God, which is unconditional. And it is not just love for God that we must express, but also brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christian love is about imitating Jesus’ love for His followers, and even those who are sinful. Agape love is about giving love without expecting anything in return. And even when we know that another person will not be able to pay us back for the love that we are giving, we must still do it, because this is the true essence of agape love.

Agape love is not limited to Christians, however. Even if someone belongs to another religion or no religion at all, we must still practice agape love towards him or her, because agape love is not choosing between Christians or not, male or female, sinner or not.

God gave us Christ Jesus so we can have the best example of what Agape love is, and by reading and studying the life of His Son, we are able to practice this kind of love to the rest of humankind as well.

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