Agape love has been called the “highest level of love known to humanity.” It is one of four different kinds of love, and it can take a lifetime to learn how to agape someone.
This morning the topic of my In Touch daily devotion was about God’s agape love for us. Interestingly, the Ancient Greeks describe four different kinds of love:
- Eros – emotional and sexual love
- Storge – family, e.g., the love that parents naturally feel for their children
- Agape – unconditional love
- Philia – brotherly love, e.g., friendship
Although most of us can relate to eros, storge and philia love, I believe few of us agape love others or even know what agape love is.
What is Agape Love?
Agape love is the love that God has for us and the love that he asks us to show Him and other people. Christian Agape love is about loving others because they are children of God like ourselves even if we don’t like them. This means we love a person despite his or her flaws or shortcomings. Agape love is about giving to others, sacrificing our time, energy and resources for someone else without expecting anything in return.
Agape love is about responding calmly when faced with difficulties, sacrificing without complaining, and waiting patiently. This type of love is selfless and is for the preservation of relationships and the development of another person.
In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis used agape to describe what he believed was the “highest level of love known to humanity – a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.”
Agape love is not easy and does not come naturally to most of us. It is a choice we make to serve others with humility, without expecting anything in return. This type of love enables us to love the unlovable and serve people at their deepest need, whether they deserve it or not. It is the second of Jesus’ greatest commandments.
How Can We Practice Agape Love in Real Life?
- One of my best friends is a hospice volunteer. Not many people would choose to carve time out of their busy schedule to sit with a dying person that they do not know. She sacrifices her time and energy to love upon a person she knows is going to die soon, expecting nothing in return. Not many people would be willing to do that.
- Another example I witnessed occurred this past weekend at our church’s Night To Shine event, where more than 80 special needs children were treated to a prom night experience. Each special need child had a buddy who volunteered to accompany them the entire evening. Each of these buddies showed unconditional love for a special need’s child, making their night extra special.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I used to think of this verse in context with love for my husband, children and friends. But I was wrong. This verse defines agape love not just for people I already know and care about, but for others I do not know or might not even like.
I love my husband (eros) and children (storge) dearly, and I love my friends (philia). But, I have a lot of work to do to show agape love to them and others.
Agape Love Never Ends
I am working on practicing agape love in my daily life. It’s not easy and I have a long way to go. It requires me to set aside my desires, and treat the needs of others as more important than my own. It requires a lot of patience, and it requires me to treat people respectfully, even when they are difficult and unlovable. It requires me to serve others willingly and joyfully, without complaining or resentment. It requires me to uplift a person even when I don’t think they deserve it.
The good news is that “Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8) so I have the rest of my life to work on agape love with God’s help.
Have you witnessed or experienced agape love? I’d love to hear if you have. Please tell me in the comments section below.
In Touch Daily Readings for Devoted Living, February 2017
The Challenge of “Agape” Love, Christian Courier