Week 2: Internal Relational Skills
DAY 13: Agape Love
One of the most freeing discoveries I have made in my almost 30 years in the Lord, is that there are four kinds of love experienced and talked about in the Word. Had I not discovered that most of the references in the Bible are talking about Agape love, not the three other human loves, I might have tried to apply truth with a faulty understanding and failed miserably! Agape is the only love described in the Word that is actually God Himself. 1 John 4:15-16 says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Agape love is God and God is in us! Agape love is the only one of the loves we can experience that does not have to be reciprocated to stay alive. It is a constant flow in and through us if we cultivate our relationship with God who, again, IS love. What is amazing about this is that when any other human love relationship has its moments of difficulty, dryness, confusion, or conflict and love is not coming back to us, we have access to loving that person anyway through Him! Phileo love is brotherly love which is mostly what we experience in sibling relationships and friendships. Storge love is instinctual love which is most prevalent in parent-child relationships. And eros love is romantic love. All of these loves need to be reciprocated to stay alive. One-sided human relationships are not very fulfilling and usually only last in cases where a person is very loyal or tenacious in their commitments. God intended our relationships to be far more enjoyable than that so those of us who are in relationship with Him can access Agape love to cultivate our relationships in a positive manner when the other person is not able or willing to reciprocate in the manner you humanly need. I believe this is what God is speaking of in Ecclesiastes 4:12 when he speaks of it being good that two people are in relationship with one another. It is certainly better than being alone. However, then He says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” I believe He is referencing Himself in the midst of two people. I like the illustration of a braid of hair. It looks like only two strands of hair, but there is a third strand keeping it together. God is the invisible, but powerful, force that keeps our human relationships far stronger than we could create or sustain without Him.
When you find yourself in a situation where you find loving the person in front of you difficult or at least challenging, remember to access His love as your Source for loving this person. I will actively assess what my source is when interacting with my husband and kids. It is okay if it is one of the human loves, but there are times I notice my source is another human emotion like irritation or impatience or anger. It is in times like this that I confess that I am tempted or have fallen into the temptation of letting flesh be my source. I sacrifice that source on an invisible altar I keep ever before me and remind myself and Him that I want Him (Love!) to be the Source of how I interact with those around me. I thank Him that His Agape love is a never ending flow into my life and ask Him to Love the person through me. I am His empty vessel for Love when I “unclog” my heart and soul through confession and surrender. It is an amazing and more powerful way to live.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. When I think of myself loving that way, it feels impossible! However, it is not talking about me loving this way. It is saying Agape loves this way. That means you have to surrender your way, empty yourself, and let God love this way through you.
Declare over yourself, “I am an empty vessel for God’s love to flow through me to others. This is how I am able to love not only the people I care about in their difficult moments and mine, but it is also how I am able to love my enemies as He has commanded. I am a living sacrifice and lay down all things that would hinder this love from flowing through me. It is my desire to love in a way that helps my friends, family, and others know that He loves each and every one of them as much as He loves His very own Son. (Jn. 17:23) “