Walking In Agape Love: Divine Love 2
Recall that Agape or divine love is a divine determination to do good to men even when they do not deserve it. Furthermore it takes receiving the supernatural life of God daily in sufficient measure to walk in divine love daily and not just mere human emotions or feelings.
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.
To walk in love is to exercise one’s self in these things when relating to others.
It is possible to show outward acts of kindness and charity, based on natural human emotions, without true divine love:
1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV): 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 by 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.
One of the greatest hindrances to walking in true divine love is a lack of wisdom that causes us to operate by human emotions only rather than divine compassion, which is directed, by divine wisdom.
Wisdom is the principal thing?
In Proverbs 4:7 we read, “Wisdom is the principal thing”
This means that since love is made up of goodwill, wisdom, patience, kindness and discipline; wisdom is the principal part of all these things.
In other words, it is wisdom that will direct my goodwill, my patience, my kindness and my discipline in every situation.
For instance, even though God is love He will still chasten us when wisdom dictates that He does so, rather than bless us at that time. For instance, to show kindness to a disobedient child without first correcting and chastening the child first will be to spoil the child. Conversely to only chasten a child without showing the child some kindness afterwards to let them know you love them and the chastening was for their own good would probably make a rebel out of the child. It takes wisdom to know what to do and how much to do in every situation. This is why the Apostle Paul prayed that our love should abound in all knowledge and discernment:
Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV): And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, (10) so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, (11)filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ– to the glory and praise of God.
This is a prayer you should pray for yourself for each day.
Walking in Forgiveness:
Another great hindrance to walking in love is unforgiveness.
Forgiveness is the act of pardoning, releasing and treating people who offend us, without hurt or bitterness and in the fear of God: treating others as God treats them:
Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV): Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
The hallmark of forgiveness is the ability to relate to the person who has offended you with goodwill and without bitterness. If you harbour ill will or bitterness towards them then you have not forgiven them.
So many people find it difficult to forgive because their thinking is self-centred rather than God-centred.
This means, they keep thinking about what was done to them and the hurt that they are feeling, rather than focusing on God and what God has commanded: that we should forgive.
We don’t forgive people because they deserve it: none of us deserve to be forgiven; rather we forgive because Jesus died for our sins and God commands us to forgive others as He forgave us because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
This is graphically described in Jesus teaching on forgiveness in:
Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV): Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (22) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (23) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. (24) And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. (25) But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. (26)The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. (27) Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (28) But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. (29) And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. (30) And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. (31) So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. (32) Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: (33) Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (34) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. (35) So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
So long as you keeping thinking about yourself and what was done to you, you will find it difficult to forgive. Rather think about how God forgave you of your sins because of Jesus and then you will find it easy to forgive others also because of Jesus.
Why we should forgive:
1. We forgive because God commands that we love other men as He loved us and forgave us: Eph.4: 31-32
2. To enable us to receive forgiveness from God and man: Luke 6:37
3. So that our prayers will not be hindered: Mark 11:25
4. To keep out the devil out of our lives: Eph.4: 26-27
How we should forgive:
We should forgive as an act of our will, independent of our feelings and we should say so with our mouths and determine and think it in our minds.
Ask God to give life (1 John 5:16) to those who have offended us, to cover for their sins and help them to repent:
Relate to them without bitterness, but in wisdom, at a level of fellowship both of you can handle spiritually.
If necessary, go and see them to talk to them in kindness and meekness.
Disagree without being disagreeable
In our daily relationships and interaction with people, disagreement may arise due to differences in views concerning different issues. The way we react in these situations are very important to maintain our walk in love. There are situations when we as Christians need to either stand by what we believe or be flexible and let others have their way, depending on whether the issue at stake is fundamental or non-fundamental to the practice of our faith.
Fundamental and Non-fundamental Issues:
These are matters of serious spiritual implication on which Christians are not allowed to compromise e.g. fasting and praying. If a person disagrees with you on these, a Christian should not compromise but do the right thing at the right time but in meekness and by the wisdom of God, explaining to the other person as clearly as possible from the Bible. You also pray for the person that the eyes of his understanding be enlightened, using Eph 1:17-19, Col. 1:9, 1 John 5:16.
1 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV): But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” (14) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. (15) Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (16) But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
These are matters of non-serious spiritual implications on which a Christian can compromise with wisdom depending on the demand of each situation as long as that act will edify the other person in love e.g. covering of hair (1 Cor. 11: 7-16), abstinence from certain foods (Rom. 14: 2, 1 Cor. 8: 13) etc. However, you should pray for such people that their eyes of understanding be enlightened. 1 Cor. 8:13, 11:16.
The guiding principles here are found in:
Romans 14:1 (NIV): Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
1 Corinthians 9:20-22 (NIV): To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. (21) To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. (22) To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV): Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
So by walking in wisdom, forgiveness and a right attitude even when we disagree with people we can maintain a fruitful and consistent walk in divine love: agape.