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8/27/14 – Your Life: Agape Love One Another

Published: Wednesday, 27 August 2014 Written by Carlton L. Arnold

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9-11

As you read the verses above, you can see that Paul (writer of Philippians) was saying a prayer for the Christians in Philippi.  The first thing he prayed about was their love for one another.  A Believer’s love for other Believers should always be increasing.  The word “love” in these verses is the same Greek word for “love” in the well-known John 3:16 verse, “For God so loved the world.”  The Greek word “agape” is translated as love.  I wish all translations of the Bible would put this word in parentheses wherever in occurs.  Someone who studies the Bible would know that whenever the word is used in the Bible, it is intended to mean the highest form of any thoughts that you may have about love.

 

God used agape love to describe His attitude toward sinners.  Everyone who believes Christ died on the cross to obtain God’s forgiveness for our sins have experienced God’s love.  This “love” is not an emotion; rather, it is a decision that God and Christ made for all mankind.  This “love” implies a sacrifice meaning that the one who shows this kind of love is putting others first.  Jesus expressed this kind of love when He sacrificed Himself for you, me, and all mankind.

Christian love is present when the love of God is in our minds.  Because He first loved us, we must love one another (1 John 4:19).  Christian love is not prompted by feelings.  You don’t have to and you should not wonder if you feel love for another Christian.  As a matter of fact, Christians should be careful to distinguish between their emotional love and agape love.  You don’t wait to feel like serving others.  It is a conscious and deliberate decision that you make as a Christian.  Many times your flesh will rise up within you and give you reasons not to serve others.  When you are consumed by self-thinking (flesh), you cannot have an attitude of Christian love.  Christian love is always identifying and serving the needs of others. 

Paul goes on to identify results when we express Christian love.  He says that our thoughts about Christian love should reflect an increase in knowledge and depth of insight.  He also uses the word discernment.  In Christianity today, there is not an emphasis on increasing in discernment as part of our spiritual growth.   Agape love is discussed, but not in the context that you will increase in spiritual discernment of others.  In my opinion, this topic should be a routine part of discussions among Christians.  When you grasp the concept of Christian love and apply it in a practical way as you live your life, you will begin to see what is best, pure, and blameless.  In other words, your obedience to the commands of Christ comes from your depth of insight and discernment brought on by your application of Christian love to other Christians. 

Spiritual discernment was a character trait of Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth.  Read John, Chapters 3 and 4, and you will see spiritual discernment by Jesus: the stories of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  You will increase in your spiritual discernment when you increase your agape love for other Christians.  When Christians do not display agape love to other Christians, those people without Christ can easily accuse us of being just like the world.  Worldly love does not and cannot include agape love. 

Finally, Paul says that when you have removed self-thinking and replaced it with agape love, you are filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.  This is an amazing statement that every Christian should understand.  Paul is saying that not only can you be as righteous as Christ, but he also says that, as a Believer, you are filled with the righteousness of Christ.  Your mind can only understand this from a spiritual perspective. 

Think again of the love of God and Christ for Christ to willingly and innocently die as payment for the penalty of our sins (eternal death), and for us to be forgiven of all of our sins.  His sacrifice enables us to experience eternal life with God.  I hope you can see the strong connection between God’s expression of agape love through the crucifixion of Christ, and your attitude of agape love toward others. 

Consider the event of Jesus in the Garden praying to His father, “not my will, but your will be done” (read John, Chapter 17).  At the same time, consider the agape love that other Christians have shown you.  This is a potentially dangerous thought, because the majority of Christians express love for others based on a list of conditions that they have created.  When this happens, it is easy to think, “If they love me, then I’ll love them.”  This is worldly love and not agape love.  Worldly love always includes certain conditions or requirements for loving others. Thankfully, Christ did not think that way when He was crucified; otherwise, He would not have allowed himself to be crucified, and we could not have forgiveness of sins. 

I encourage you to frequently and intentionally meditate on this word “love”.  You will experience spiritual growth in your discernment as well as becoming more Christ-like.  You will definitely experience some major changes in your life in your relationship with others.

 

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