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
Precept Austin: 1 Corinthians 13:4 Commentary
The Challenge of “Agape” Love, Christian Courier
Laura ~ Raise Your Garden says
I had no idea you were such a strong believer, how I love this post!!! 26 weeks pregnant and a little sappy these days, but after 4 years of infertility, I finally learned what agape love truly is. Was told by doctors that I’d never have a baby with my terrible scores from bloodwork. And I prayed and prayed and prayed, and didn’t get pregnant. But sometimes God uses waiting as a tool to bring the very best of His gifts. This agape love finally did give me a baby, even after all the bleak news the fertility doctors told me. He is such a good and loving Father!!!!
Laura – thanks so much for your comment. Patience and trust are two things I know God is also teaching me. It’s all in God’s timing that His blessings and plan are revealed. He is indeed a good and loving Father. May God bless you as you bring your baby into this world.
Philip Rosado says
Hello, I’m a middle school teacher at a last chance school with low enrollment. There I’ve came across students that are confused in how to proceed in this world. I was blessed to receive this quote from a Christian radio station ” Instead of building cases let’s build bridges.” That statement hit my heart explaining agape love to me.
We’re all God’s children good or bad. The enemy wants us to knock each other down. Regardless the sin, I learned to look at the human being that’s under attack. God gave everyone a second chance and we need to give that second chance as well with the same love He has shared with us to each other. That’s the agape love that your article is describing. We need to believe in His love that it will protect us at the same time as we may feel vulnerable helping those that may be a threat to us. His Agape Love conquers any hate and His Agape Love will unite us and not divide us as He intended for us to live united with each other. I’ve been doing this more in the classroom despite whatever darkness is coming from any direction. Agape Love is misunderstood, it’s interpreted in this world as weak. In the contrary it is Strength at it’s highest level!
Thank you Lord for this Gift that you gave us at the cross.