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One of the great tragedies of modern life is that we have redefined the meaning of “LOVE” to fit our selfish nature.
Today’s vast number of songs, books and movies about love, primarily focus on the self-centered and manipulative feelings that immature people have for one another.
- Getting what we want from that person we “love”
- Casual hookups being as valuable as a life-long commitment
- Accepting that person as long as they deliver
- Abandoning that person when we feel the need to move on
- Manipulating the person we love with suggestive words
- Later blaming that person we once loved for all of our problems
- Focusing on limerence as a valid substitute for true love
Plus we casually use the word “love” for how we feel about food, clothes, pets, vacation destinations, and sleep. This overuse of the word “love” has ruined it for any practical use in a serious discussion.
For that reason let’s talk about love using the biblical word “agape”.
And so we know and
rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in them.
1st John 4:16
Agape is the word that the early Christians adopted to describe the love that God shows and the love that every follower of Jesus should have for others.
It is a rich word that describes an unconditional expression of concern and care to see another person blessed. It is the word that Thomas Aquinas said “.. is to will the good of the other.”
Their must be a stronger foundation than mere friendship or sexual attraction. Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstances. – Stephen Kendrick
Those couples who know, digest and live with the agape attitude are much different from all others. They respond differently to relational issues and are “not swayed by time or circumstances.”
Their expression of love is founded on the clear understanding that it was God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who first expressed agape to them.
That realization leads to them seeing themselves as a conduit, a river, a stream, or an expression of agape to their spouse. One that does not stop flowing when the spouse is not loving in their responses.
The Radical Nature of Agape
Understanding agape isn’t easy so here I’ve tried to show some common examples. If you link them to the Bible you will see these living examples in both the Old and New Testaments.
|Spouse commits adultery
it in repentance.
|Unforgiveness, spiritual pride, rejection, punishment, divorce likely||Forgiveness, acceptance, accountability, reconciliation, healing,
rebuilding of trust
Spouse experiences dementia.
Grief, Separation, limited affection,
Grief, acceptance, commitment, deepened affection, sacrificial attitude
Spouse isn’t meeting sexual needs.
Flirting, emotional/physical affairs, justification, porn, focus on my needs
Commitment, focus on intimacy/reconciliation, tenderness, continued affection
Spouse doesn’t meet your expectations after years.
|Form a plan, look for options, solve the problem, separation||Commitment, focus on intimacy, work together, get counsel, continued affection|
Spouse isn’t as physically attractive as before.
|Focus on my needs, porn, affairs, focus on outward issues.||Commitment, focus on my attitude, restore intimacy, repentance, continued affection|
The Reality of Agape
Nothing I’ve shared here is outside the reach of those who are filled with the Spirit of God.
Yet we also know that none of us is perfect in expressing agape. None of us responds in agape with our spouse consistently. None of us is a shining example of expressing love the way God has done to us.
But as we read the scriptures we see many examples of people who did express agape to their enemies and their spouses, even when they were being threatened with death or embarrassment.
And while we recognize our weaknesses, we should choose to let the Holy Spirit continually provoke and empower us to agape more consistently and authentically.
That was the attitude that the Apostle Paul had. One that saw weaknesses as a place for God’s power to be best demonstrated.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10
If God wanted perfect people He could have transformed you immediately upon your new birth as a Christian. Instead He has chosen to leave you in your natural weaknesses and strengths and struggling with your sin nature.
Why? So that He can show His power in your life despite all of these hindrances. Only then, when you express agape to others, does He get the glory he so rightly deserves.
The Power of Agape
The wonderful thing about being in an agape relationship is the freedom, acceptance and value that it provides.
Such a person is embraced with encouragement. They are more willing to examine themselves and seek God’s change in their hearts. They don’t hide their blemishes but are transparent knowing their acceptance is consistently there.
They are free to use their gifts and live authentically, allowing God’s power to flow through them. Very little of their time in life is consumed with fighting, disagreements and conflict for they are in an agape embrace with their spouse who is also experiencing the same joy.
Human love demands and exhausts us trying to keep up with other’s expectations.
Agape love accepts us and calls us to be all that God designed us to be, as we express that same agape love to others.
Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men.
It is a love that seeks nothing in return.
It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God
working in the lives of men.
And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Discuss these Questions if you want to have a Great Marriage!
Where do I agape my spouse well?
Where do I see attitudes and actions that are not coming from agape love?
How well do I understand and accept God’s agape love for me? Is it possible for me to fully express agape love to another if I have not experienced it myself?
What do I need to tell God about my situation?