Summary: Loving others unconditionally is humanly impossible but He has given us the tools and power to love others like He does.
AGAPE LOVE AND GODLY RELATIONSHIPS
“Christian love has God for its primary object and expresses itself first of all in explicit obedience to His commandments. Self-will, that is self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God. Christian love whether exercised toward the brethren, or to men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only on those for whom some affinity is discovered.” –William E. Vine (Vine’s dictionary of Bible Words)
1. The Kingdom of God is based on Agape relationships (and almost every problem on the planet arises out of bad relationships).
a. Relationships are top priority to God.
1. Jesus came and died to restore a relationship between God and people.
2. The entire Bible (both OT and NT) involves covenants, commitments, friendships and relationships.
3. John. 13:34-35 - Jesus said the world would know his church by the love they have for each other.
b. There are God given rules for relationships (1Cor. 13:4-8).
1. Godly relationships are fulfilling, real, and produce good fruit.
2. Selfish relationships (self on the throne) produce almost every problem on the planet.
3. Jesus said the entire law is wrapped up in loving him and each other (Mat.22:37-40).
4. God’s relationship rules (1 Cor.12:4-8 - agape love): Love 1Is patient, 2 kind, 3doesn’t envy, 4doesn’t “parade” self (show off), 5isn’t puffed up (proud), 6isn’t rude, 7doesn’t seek own interests, 8isn’t be provoked, 9bears all things, 10believes all things (believes the best, not worst ~ gossip), 11doesn’t rejoice in evil (isn’t happy about others’ downfalls), 12rejoices in the truth (of who they are in Christ), 13hopes all things, 14endures all things (keeps on loving when it is hard to), 15Love Never Fails!!!
c. There are 4 different types of loves (C.S Lewis – 4 loves).
1. 1Affection, 2Friendship (should be “Agape” or unconditional), 3Mariage (a
married man and woman, this also involves agape, but there is more to it than
that!!!) and 4Relationship with God.
2. Agape love is unconditional love. Agape love is unconditional acceptance based on commitment, not on attraction or feeling; it involves unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good (Eli Stewart’s definition in italics) – not based on their performance or on your feelings about them.
a. Agape love is the essence of God’s character (1Jn. 4:8).
b. Agape love is what all Christians are called to (it is a command). Agape love is the type of love Christians are called to love God and each other with (Matt.22:37-39, Jn.13:35, 1Jn.4:21).
c. Agape love is a fruit of the Spirit – Evidence of the Holy Spirit’s filling (Gal.5:22-23).
d. Agape love is how unbelievers will know that Christians are God’s people (Jn.13:35).
e. Agape love is what draws us to repentance - God’s unconditional kindness Chrestotes (Rom.2:4). Literally His love causes us to think differently and that leads to our acting differently.
f. Agape love is the proper motivation for us as Christians.
3. Unconditional love is necessary in the Body of Christ. It is vital that we as Christians learn to love people unconditionally – it is the best way the world will see Jesus.
a. It is wrong to love only those we have affection or attraction to.
b. Christian cliques weaken the body. It is O.K to have close friends but don’t let close friendships isolate you.
c. Don’t hold your brothers and sisters to standards of popularity, wealth, good looks, intelligence or other “desirable” traits.
4. How to develop Agape love as your motivation. There are two basic parts to loving unconditionally. Be motivated correctly (read the Word, be filled with the Spirit).
Verses: Ps.34:4-10, 27:14, 23, Jn.16:33, Acts 2:28
a. The critical part. This is the part that is vital for each person to do before they can love unconditionally.
1. Be committed to Jesus and filled with and walking in the Spirit.
2. Must have no un-confessed sin.
3. Choose to allow Him to use you to love – to show Christ.
4. Relationship vs. Religion. Relationship involves agape love, unconditional acceptance. This is how Christ treated us and it is how we are to treat others. Religion is based on phileo love, conditional acceptance.
b. The progressive part. This involves learning and growing in our ability to love unconditionally.
1. Actions are required (love is a verb). It is necessary to learn how to serve others’ interests.
2. Practice putting others’ interests above your own (be a doer of the Word not a hearer only– James 1:22).
3. Expect to be tested. God will give you opportunities to love and accept people that aren’t fun to love.
4. Realize that loving unconditionally is God’s command – not a matter of preference.
5. Evaluate yourself. Evaluate yourself and determine how you love people.