3 Ways To Practice Agape Love
In English, we have one type of love. We love our spouse, but we also love ice cream and we love our friends. Those are three very drastically different types of love. In Greek, there are four types of love: erros, philia, storge, and agape. Agape love is the Godly love that Christ talks about in chapter 22 of Matthew and chapter 10 of Luke. Unlike the other types of love, Agape love is not a feeling or an emotion; Agape love is a calling. Christ calls us to show Agape love to everybody we encounter. It is our duty as Christians to love on people as Christ loved on us. This means that you are still looking out for the best interest of your enemy or somebody you are angry with. Agape love is well outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. So how do we essentially practice Agape love in our daily lives? I have three tips that can help you get started.
1. Give without strings attached
"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" - Matthew 25:40
Sacrifice without expectation of reciprocation. Do out of love. My pastor always says to give even when it hurts. This could mean buying food for the man on the corner or buying coffee for a person you see if having a bad day. It is using resources you have been entrusted to steward for the benefit of others. This could be spending your free time serving or donating clothes or food to the poor. When we provide for the needs of others, we are doing onto Christ.
2. Pray for your enemies
"I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray...His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner...To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in his mercy." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
When we pray for our enemies, we are demonstrating Agape love. This does not mean we are praying to see them fail, but we are praying for what is in their best interest. We pray for their blessings. As Bonhoeffer said, when we pray for our enemies, we stop seeing the enemy in them. Our animosity diminishes and we start to see our enemy for who they are, a creation of God.
3. Speak in Truth and Love
"Truth without love is abuse. Love without truth is enablement." -Steve Thomason
Truly loving somebody means that you are speaking truth into their lives with love. This means having the tough and awkward conversations in order to grow and develop the other person. As Christians, we are called to keep people accountable. If we merely love them and not call out their sin, we are enabling them. If we calling out their sin without love, we come off as judgmental and do not have righteous motives in our hearts.