Agape and the Labor to Love
- Pouring Out and Giving Back to Your Leaders - May 22, 2018
- Prayer in Waiting - March 13, 2018
- Control Issues - February 22, 2018
I’m on the wrong side of experience with this topic. Well, maybe that just depends on how I look at love. On one hand, I am on the right side, as I have no doubt I’m incredibly loved by an amazing God. On the other, I’ve come up way short of loving people the way God expects of me. Can anyone else relate?
There is so much to be said about how poorly we Christians set this example, and how incredibly wrong our culture is on understanding what love is. The truth is that it is too overwhelming to tackle in a simple post like this. I’m at a loss as to where to even start, which is usually where the Holy Spirit comes in…
“Ahem… can’t find all the right words? Don’t know where to start? Shocker. Do you really think you need to recreate the wheel? The scripture is already there. Just give a little reminder by putting it in front of them.”
Drive Love Home
Recently, I was in a meeting where a team was asked to provide suggestions on how to ensure that what was being taught would remain active in the workplace. One suggestion was to present the information to the team at each meeting, instead of moving on to a new training topic. Simply put, drive the message home until it has become second nature. So even though in the next meeting it will not be anything new, there will be a commitment to understanding and getting it right.
Maybe it’s time to make a commitment to understand love and get it right. Are we willing to make it a point to keep God’s instruction before us and drive love home before worrying about the other items on our Christian checklist?
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
The greatest of these is love! Where is our commitment to love in the midst of all the other topics we Christians are so passionate to defend?
What kind of Christian are you?
I’ve met some Christians who can quote scripture at the drop of a hat in one breath and with the next breath say the nastiest things about a brother or sister in Christ.
I’ve met Christians who will speak out against corrupt lifestyles that our society has widely accepted, but will tear others down for their own personal gain.
Now, if you know me at all and are reading this you know I’m not innocent of anything I talk about here. But none–and I mean none–of us can pretend we are. So please, don’t misunderstand me. This comes from a place of conviction, not a place of feigned moral high ground.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is hard, folks. It is so unbelievably hard. Why? Because it is work. If we do not labor to love, we do not love at all. That is the bottom line.
What love is: An act of obedience.
What love is not: A feeling. This is where our culture gets it wrong. (Now before we get all “amen sister” let us not forget how much room for improvement we have on this topic. Preaching about how society has a distorted notion of love comes second to the issue of us Christians not leading the charge, so let’s not deflect.)
Merriam-Webster defines love as:
a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.
a person you love in a romantic way
The mother of all face palms is happening right here in my living room friends. It is no wonder we don’t get it. We just don’t get it! Here is what the creator of love has to say about what it actually is:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (emphasis added)
Patience can look like not acting on frustration. Kindness can be shown by choosing to pick our battles. Jealousy, pride, and rudeness can be avoided when we ditch the sarcasm and the need/desire for validation from anyone other than God. Truth can win out when we bite our tongue. Love can persevere if we don’t get lazy. These are action items. Nowhere does it talk about feelings. It is how we respond.
Responding to “Feelings”
In Beth Moore’s Bible study Living Beyond Yourself, she notes four ways to respond that fly in the face of our feelings:
- Confront the situation.
- Admit to God we lack agape (love) for someone.
- Consider through scripture God’s response.
- Be obedient and respond like Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like something that endures through every circumstance has seen some things. Every. Circumstance. That is a big deal; that sounds like serious work to me. I want to get love in a room and tell it to write a book because that’s gotta be one heck of a saga. “Oh Sara, I am love, and that saga is The Holy Bible.” Oooh snap, did anyone else hear that? Mother of all face palms happening right now in heaven.
Let’s Get to Work
All right. That is enough chatter. Let’s get to work on this love thing, shall we? I’m certainly no expert but can suggest to you a couple resources I’m currently using to help drive love home in my life.
- Beth Moore’s Bible study Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring The Fruit of the Spirit
- Love Does by Bob Goff
- Pray your heart out. Ask God to help you get past your feelings and be moved into an active place of love. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we didn’t just know the following verses, but actually lived them?
John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith.”
I’d LOVE to hear your personal experiences of how God has shown up in your obedient, hard and worthy acts of love. Brag about God in the comments section and encourage someone today!