WALKING IN AGAPE: DIVINE LOVE
In our article this week, we will be looking at what divine love is and how to practice it in our daily lives.
What is Love?
When we speak of love most people think of either emotional feelings or sex. While these are forms of love they do not describe the true love of God; in fact emotional or physical love without the undergird of divine love end up in selfishness and bitterness when pressures of life come upon them.
In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, there are 3 different words that are translated love:
Eros: This is erotic or sensual love based on physical attraction.
Phileo: This is affectionate or emotional love, as exists between mother and child or two intimate friends. It is based on relationships.
Agape: This is divine love, usually referred to as the love of GOD. It is a love that is based on divine good will irrespective of relationship, gender, background or even negative attitude of the person. It is a divine determination to do good to men even when they do not deserve it. This is the true love that should under-guard Phileo and Eros so they do not crumble under the pressure of human failures, selfishness and disappointments. It is the Agape we will be studying in this article.
Love is the ability to discern, desire and to do what is best for a person in all circumstances.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV): For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
John 4:24 (KJV): God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
I John 4:8 (KJV): He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
I John 4:13 (KJV): Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
These scriptures show us that we are partakers of the nature of God’s Spirit and that nature, which is love has three components, soundness of mind: or wisdom (to discern), love: or compassion (to desire) and power or ability (to do).
Connection between Life and Love.
The nature of God is the life of God, which is the substance inside God also called eternal life or living water or Zoe in the original Greek.
John 5:26 (KJV): For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
John 4:10 (KJV): Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
John 4:14 (KJV): But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
It is this life or substance of living water inside God that is the source of God’s light, which is figurative of His wisdom, love and power.
John 1:4 (KJV): In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Therefore to walk in divine love you need to have in you a sufficient amount of the life of God operating in your soul and flesh. This why God commands us to first believe on the name of Jesus to receive life before we can love men as Christ loves us.
I John 3:23 (KJV): And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
John 13:34 (KJV): A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 20:31 (KJV): But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
The amount or the measure of life of God we have inside of us at a particular time will determine the amount or measure of divine love that we can show or that can manifest through us at that particular time.
Characteristics of Divine Love:
The characteristics of divine love are revealed to us in 1 Cor. 13:4-8. Here we see practically what it means to walk in divine love in our daily lives: in our interactions with other people.
This portion of scripture reveals to us the character of God Himself and it is as follows:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NLT): Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud (5) or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. (6) It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. (7) Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (8) Love will last forever.
A paraphrase of this scripture is:
Love endures long and is kind.
It is never envious and is not jealous of others.
Love is not boastful nor does it seek its own glory; rather it seeks God’s glory and praise. Love is not proud, conceited or arrogant. Love is courteous: always gives honour and respect to people. Not selfish, nor self-seeking, does not insist on its right. Always at peace: never anxious nor fretful.
Always forgiving people and treats them as though they never offended just as God treats us. Rejoices at righteousness and truth, but passionately detests iniquity.
Never stops doing good, never fails in all its endeavours, never comes to an end.
A practical personal confession for walking in love that can be used for daily confession and meditation is:
I am patient and kind in all things, I am forbearing and longsuffering, I am not jealous or envious. I rejoice at the blessing of others.
I am not boastful, I boast and glory only of Jesus Christ because God gave me all I have.
I am not proud; I am courteous to my brethren and all men and treat them with respect either big or small. I am always polite and rude to others.
I do good to all men including myself, but I’m not selfish so I seek the good of others also. I do not insist on my own rights or my own way except when it concerns the vital will of God at that time and even then with meekness and reverence towards those I’m dealing with.
I do not worry: I cast all my cares and burdens on Jesus in faith by prayer.
I forgive people when they wrong me and pray that God will help them to repent, relating to them in wisdom but without bitterness.
I love righteousness and hate sin and wickedness. I do not rejoice when others go wrong, rather I pray for them.
I am always ready to believe the best of others, I never give up on them even when they are wrong. I keep praying for them.
From these characteristics of divine love, we can get a simple but concise functional definition of divine love:
Divine love is the eternal willingness to do eternal good, exercised in wisdom and patience, shown in acts of kindness and discipline when necessary.
We see in this definition 5 major attributes of divine love: good will, wisdom, patience, kindness and discipline.
The inclusion of discipline may at first seem strange in a definition of divine love but it is a true ingredient of divine love:
Revelation 3:19 (NIV): Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
So to walk in love is to exercise one’s self in these things when relating to others.
We do this by speaking these attributes daily by faith, and determine to and actually practice them in our daily interactions with others with a background of asking God to fill our hearts with life and prayer in Spirit so that our walking in love will be by the Spirit and not flesh. (See our articles on keys of the Kingdom and Obedience by the Spirit for more details).
It is possible to show outward acts of kindness and charity, based on natural human emotions, without true divine love:
1 Corinthians 13:3: 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.
Notice that love is something you first have before you show or do it. You get divine love by getting divine life and you show it in divine wisdom in acts of kindness and discipline by the leading and power of the Holy Spirit and not just mere human emotions. This is why the background receiving the life of God in the name of Jesus and prayer in the Spirit is necessary to walk in true divine love.
In our article next week, we will see how to overcome hindrances to walking in love by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.