Isn’t it amazing how life just flies by and time escapes us! I have been wanting to work on part 4 of A Journey through God’s Love for some time, but have had so many other things keep me from writing over the past couple of months. However, the Lord has graciously provided a time for me to escape and enjoy the peace and relaxation of His glorious creation. There is no better place than nature to feel and see the evidence of God’s love for us, which brings us to the next part of A Journey through God’s Love—Agape love.
God is indeed a God of love. His love is like no other love we, in the mere flesh, can comprehend. Our finite minds are stuck on a human love that is conditional, mercurial, dependent on feelings that go up and down based on the circumstances and stages we encounter in our life. This is certainly not the love that God gives us. To fully understand the extent and reach of God’s love, we must first understand the Greek and Hebrew meaning of love.
Agape – love, affection, or benevolence, love feast, dear, desire to do good to others, good will, charitable, kindness, lavish, rich, abundant and splendid love
Hesed – (from God) God’s love or kindness toward people and redemption from enemies and troubles, preservation of life from death, redemption from sin, keeping of covenants; God’s faithfulness to His covenant people and the blessings and mercy He shows His obedient covenant people
Hesed – (from man) Doing favors and benefits, kindness toward others, kindness extended to the lowly, needy, miserable, piety; commitment from man who have entered the covenant with God and are self-giving, trust Him, have deep affection for Him, and joyfully submit to Him
Racham – to have compassion on or upon, to love, to show mercy or have pity on
So what does that all mean? What does Agape or Hesed mean? It means, in short, that God’s love is never-ending, unconditional, given freely, and fulfills promises. To understand agape love is to understand God, for God is love. He is the perfect image and reflection of love, the very definition of love itself. 1 John 4:7-11:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
God loves us as we are. In fact He loves us so deeply, so passionately that he sacrificed His most precious joy so that we could share in the inheritance of Heaven rather than the eternal death and separation from Him!
But the scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:22-29
Paul refers to the promise twice in this passage. This promise was made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 when God established a covenant with Abraham, telling him that he would not only found a great nation, but that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. Indeed we are blessed because from Abraham’s faith and obedience came the lineage through which Christ was born. Christ is the promise, the fulfillment of blessings from God’s covenant with Abraham, the fulfillment of God’s love for us. We are able to gain access into the gates of heaven, to be heirs in Christ’s inheritance of eternal life because God loved us so much. He knew we were prisoners to sin, knew many would hate Him, curse His Son, and turn their backs on Him, yet His love put all that aside and He chose to give us grace, mercy, compassion, and the promise of life eternal.
Scripture provides God’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…..
When God paints an illustration of love through Paul in the writings of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, he is in fact evincing who He is! This kind of perfect love is impossible for any human being to deliver, thus we must rely on the Spirit of God to help us, to give us a deeper understanding of love, to draw us closer to God, helping us, in obedience, to receive love and express agape love to others.
There is no way, any one person can represent true love every day, in every way, to every person. We are not designed in our flesh to do that. We are, however, designed in our spirit to do that. But our spirit must align with God’s in order to carry out agape love. So, keep praying, keep seeking, keep asking God to reveal to you what true agape love is, to show you how to love, and to give you the strength and compassion to love, even those you don’t like or whom you call enemy.
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Matthew 5:44-47
When we begin to love as God has loved us, unconditionally, continually, and completely, then we will see the fruit of that love begin to blossom. We will see lives changed. We will see hearts softened. We will see faith strengthened. We will see hope restored. Be the true reflection of God. Love others because He first loved you, not because others will love you back. Love others because God gave all He had for you to live fully, not because others will respond to you. Love because God loves you!
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 & 13