“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I as I am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:1-13)
The main ingredient in a Christian’s life should be Agape love. Agape love IS the Father’s love. He IS Agape love. There are only two commandments given to Christians by our Lord Jesus Christ and that is to first, LOVE the Father with everything that is in us. One hundred percent effort to love Him. The second is to LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Our “neighbor” is not just the person living next door. It is EVERYONE around you. It is your boss, your co-workers, your family members, family friends, people you do business with…even those you know hate you. That is our mandate. We, as believers, are COMMANDED by Jesus to do this. Is it easy?…uh NO, it is not easy. In fact, some people are almost impossible to love! But God’s love, Agape love, has the power to push past that and love anyway.
The challenge is this: How do we get there? How do we go from being offended, mad and unloving towards those who rub us the wrong way? My cry to the Father these days is: help me, Lord to be agape love to those around me! The Apostle Paul gives us a great description of what agape love looks like. Let’s look at it closer.
**”Love suffers long and is kind” – The Amplified Bible says it like this “Love pays no attention to a suffered wrong.” This means that no matter how rude, how betrayed, how hateful someone is towards you–love moves past it and gives it to God for His consideration. Instead of taking it in and allowing the pain to take root, we must immediately take it to God because He will consider whatever injustice was done and act on it as He wills. Our job is to DO good. It isn’t about feelings. It is about actions. Pray for them. That is perhaps the best good deed we can do for those who hate us.
**”Love does not envy” – Agape love is not threatened by someone else’s talents. Agape love is happy for the blessings of others and sad when others fall on hard times. Agape love is content with its own allotment from the Lord. Agape love springs from a person who is comfortable in their own skin. Someone who is secure in who they are and WHOSE they are. A person content with who they are in Jesus Christ is not going to envy those who have more talent or are prettier or have money etc. Contentment is a wonderful thing to pursue!
**”Love does not parade itself” – Agape love does not put itself out front to draw attention to itself. A person full of agape love will never say “look at me!” Agape prefers to be the wind beneath the wings of others.
**”Love is not puffed up” – What is “puffed up?” It is pride. Pride has been the downfall of many people down through the ages..beginning with Satan. Pride stems from fear of losing out. At the root of pride, there is fear of some kind. Some animals try to make themselves look bigger by expanding some part of their body to avoid being eaten. They puff up. Agape love has no room for pride. In fact, it is impossible to be full of agape love and be in pride at the same time. The dangerous thing about pride is that it hides in plain sight. The saying “blinded by pride” is very true. To avoid pride, we must examine our hearts in the light of agape love. We must let God’s light of truth shine in and expose it.
**”Love does not behave rudely” – Agape love has the ability to look past a rude person’s attitude and see the pain they are living with. People who are angry and rude are pain-filled people. Encountering a rude person is a perfect time to let the agape love of God shine into their dark world. When we can look at a rude person like this, how much more will our hearts convict us for angry and rude attitudes? Agape love refuses to lash out.
**”Love does not seek its own” – Agape love is all about the other person. Really, that is the basis of Christianity. People of God should ALWAYS be looking out for the other person’s benefit in front of their own. That is what separates us from the rest of the world. There are hundreds of things we can do every day to show the agape love of God by thinking of the other person first. Say you are in line at the grocery store and everybody has decided to check out at the same time. You see a young mother with a buggy full of groceries and children who are tired of being there. She looks tired. Why not let her go ahead of you? Put aside your own fatigue and have compassion on hers. That is agape love.
**”Love is not provoked” – Agape love is not provoked. A cool head is a wise head. To test your love level in this area, just go onto Facebook and talk against something everyone is for or vice versa. People will vilify you! Can you keep a cool head against that? Go out and preach the Gospel on the street and see if you can resist provocations unbelievers and scoffers throw at you. Again, agape love will look at the person and see them through God’s eyes. What does God say about people who scorn and scoff at Him? Psalm 1 says “He who sits on the throne in heaven LAUGHS.” He laughs because He knows who He is! And we can too!
**”Love thinks no evil” – Agape love has control of the mind. The fullness of agape love fills even the mind so that when the enemies thoughts are fired into our mind, we know immediately who they belong to! We cast down those evil imaginations because we know in whom we believe! We don’t assume someone is doing wrong. We are quick to give the benefit of the doubt.
**”Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” – Agape love cannot agree with iniquity or sin. It is grieved. People who are in the fullness of agape love are going to obey and live their lives in the Truth of the Word of God. The sins they used to enjoy so much are now counted as dung in comparison with God’s ways and His Word. Because they live this, they can look at others with compassion because they KNOW what they have. They have found that Pearl of great price: Jesus Christ. Agape love wants everyone to enjoy the fulness of God.
**” Love bears all things” – Agape love has broad shoulders. It can bear a lot of disappointment and still keep loving. Agape love is action-oriented, which means it DOES something. Agape love obeys the Word of God. Jesus said “if you LOVE Me you will obey Me.” Jesus said if someone sins against you seventy times seven times in one day and comes and asks for forgiveness, you must forgive them from your heart. You can’t obey this commandment WITHOUT agape love filling your heart.
**“Love believes all things” – Agape love believes the best of everyone. A person who has the fulness of agape love in their heart is going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. They are going to believe God that they are going to be set free one day. They are able to look beyond the present evil day into the future filled with hope for a better day. They can look at their hateful neighbor and believe God for their salvation.
**”Love hopes all things” – Agape love is filled with hope. Think about hope. Without hope your whole outlook on life is dark and gloomy. Hope brings the sunshine into your world. God’s Word is filled with hope and promises of a better day. Even in hard times, agape love brings hope in the middle of chaos. Agape love refuses to give in to hopelessness because agape KNOWS the promises of God.
**”Love endures all things” – Jesus said “to him to overcomes until the end will I…” The power of agape love enables us to endure and overcome all the resistance of the adversary–Satan. From the moment we say “yes” to Jesus Christ and give Him lordship over our lives, Satan begins a relentless campaign of attacks designed to move us off our position in Christ. Pursuing the agape love of God and letting it fill us up will empower us to look at the Kingdom of God instead of our present darkness. That is what Jesus did. He looked beyond the agony of the Cross into the resurrection and through agape love was able to purchase our complete redemption!
All of the supernatural attributes that we exhibit to the world to demonstrate the power of God are pointless and futile if we don’t have agape love as the main ingredient in our lives. If we speak in tongues, and pray to move mountains, but can’t get along with fellow believers or are rude to cashiers and people in our communities, then what are we? We are a clanging cymbal and a noisy gong. Obnoxious.
Agape love is the leaven in our loaf of bread. It won’t rise to its full potential without the main ingredient of love. It will fall flat and be tasteless. Our Father wants us to be EFFECTIVE witnesses in this dark world. Without His love out front, people are repulsed instead of drawn to Him! In today’s Christian world, we are more divided than ever before. People get offended at the drop of a hat. What would happen to the world if Christians took I Corinthians chapter thirteen seriously and began to pursue agape love as the main ingredient in their lives? We would turn the world upside down! Unity would begin to form between us. People would see Jesus like never before.
There is nothing easy about pursuing agape love. The definitions of agape are difficult to obtain, but God has already spread HIS agape love abroad in our hearts when we became born-again. We have a foundation to build upon! Isn’t God good? I have made the decision to pursue the fullness of agape love in my life. Here is a simple pray you can pray to begin this pursuit today. Agape love never fails because God never fails. HE NEVER FAILS. There is no power on earth or anywhere else that can defeat the LOVE of God. It is an unstoppable force.
Father, I come before You today to ask for Your precious agape love to expand even more today in my heart. I believe and know that You have already shed this precious love abroad in my heart, but I want more of it. There are no limits to Your love and I want no limits in the level of agape love in my heart. It is only through the power of Your love that I can overcome today. I thank You for giving me another level of Your love. Use me today to spread the precious love of God to everyone around me. I ask these things in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! Amen and Amen!
Beloved, we all need to look into our hearts and examine our level of agape love. We can all stand to build on the love that God has given us at our salvation. How do we build on it? We make the choice to pursue more of His love and we do that by spending time alone with Him every day. We obey what His Word says about love here in I Corinthians 13. So when your spouse says something hurtful to you, love demands quick forgiveness and not returning evil for evil. Do something nice for them. Agape love is action-driven. Talk is cheap. You can say “I love you” all day long, but demonstrating it is quite another thing. People add weight to love-actions more than love-words. It begins with a decision to examine our hearts and to pursue God more and more intimately. Agape love is a natural result of this pursuit. Start today…