Add Love (Agape) to Your Brotherly Kindness (Phileo)
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. —God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. (1 John 3:16). 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16).
- Christ chose to exercise selfless sacrificial love – He had not committed any sin and He did not deserve to die – but He chose to take our sin on and lay His life down for each one of us.
- He made this choice while we were still sinners and therefore His enemies. (Romans 5:8).
- Did we deserve this act of love—no.
- Can we ever repay Jesus for the gift of eternal life that He has made possible for us—no.
- 1. However, we can develop the same attitude that He demonstrated towards all people (Philippians 2:5).
How important is love to Jesus
- Let’s take a look at His answer to a Pharisee’s question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matthew 22:36-39).
- In addition to this Christ takes His love one step further by letting us know that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44 – remember, we started out as Christ’s enemy because of our sin).
- Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
So what does this agape love look like:
- It is unconditional.
- It denies “self” for the care and compassion of others.
- It doesn’t need nor expect anything in return from the person being served.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us:
- This kind of love is: patient, kind, rejoices in truth, bears up under all problems, protects, believes, trusts, hopes, understands the faults of others, never fails and perseveres.
- And what this kind of love is not: Envious, proud, boastful, inappropriate, rude, selfish, short-tempered, or evil.
- Agape love cannot exist without action (1 Thessalonians 1:3). We are required to exercise our will and choose to actively love others.
We are to love our neighbor – so who is my neighbor?
- Sometimes we try to get out of helping people by analyzing who is my neighbor? The good Samaritan story is a great example of this (Luke 10:25-37).
- They could be the person who lives next door to you.
- Or simply put, they will be whomever God places in front of you that has a need that you can take care of.
- You are at the grocery store and the person in front of you doesn’t have enough money for their groceries – you just had a neighbor placed in front of you – a person you may not have known before and a person you may not see again after this event but none-the-less a neighbor at this moment.
- Talking to a friend and they mention they don’t know how they are going to pay their hydro bill – a neighbor.
- You are talking to someone and they say “It’s cold outside and this coat doesn’t seem to keep me warm anymore”. You have a few winter coats at home. A neighbor.
- Watch, look, listen and follow God’s leading – neighbors are everywhere and so are the opportunities to demonstrate love.
But don’t be fooled – actions can exist without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3);
- If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
- If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
- If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
WOW! I could be doing all of these things but if I am not exercising love towards others they will all be for nought.
- To really love people the way God loves them we have to become selfless and self-forgetful. As I found on the web: “True humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.”
- Let’s never forget that God rewards those who diligently serve Him. Matthew 25:31-40 – … 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
- Although we don’t like them – there is a warning – Matthew 25:41-45 –41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
- It’s not too late the warning should encourage us to make the necessary changes to our love walk today. How can I start to serve others today?
Some Things to Ponder:
- A suggestion I once heard was to put my name in place of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – After doing so, I found myself needing to work on making sure that I do not keep a record of other people’s wrongs. Why? Because, I know how it felt when I had made the same mistake one more time and the person who chose to correct me said – You always (whatever #) make this mistake. It hurt and it seemed to remove the value of my past apologies which were sincere.
- Are we generous with our money, our possessions and our time? For me it is often easier to give money or possessions to help people out rather than my time – so I am trying to work at making time available just to serve others – it could be a phone call, a text message, an email or a chore. My hope is that these things will come more naturally for me.
- How hard have you found the struggle to go from selfishness (it’s all about me and for me) to selflessness (it’s all about others)? Keeping in mind we aren’t talking about not taking care of ourselves – God did say to love others as we love ourselves but humility says when I am in good health and have a great relationship with God I don’t have to have myself on my mind so much.
Looking forward to hearing how you demonstrate agape love towards others.
Thank you Father God, for sending Jesus to make the way for us to ask for forgiveness of our sins so we can learn how to love like You do. Please help each one of us where we are at in our journey. Place neighbors in front of us so we can pour agape into their lives. In Jesus name, amen.