Friday, September 26, 2008

LOVE - Agape Word-Study Devotional

Trying to describe God's love on one page is like trying to describe a honeymoon in one sentence...impossible! That's the greatness of His love.


In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. – 1 John 4:9 (all verses, NKJV)

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. – 1 John 4:16

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 5:3

God’s “love” is defined as agape (Strong’s # 25, 26, 27). It is a unique word in the New Testament that describes God’s benevolence, grace, and mercy. Agape carries the idea of responsibility, giving out that which is needed—that which is best—for the benefactor. When “God so loved the world,” He gave sinful, disobedient mankind what it needed and not what it deserved. John 3:16 is agape in its fullness.

God’s love is not based on convenience, but sacrifice. He sacrificed His beloved Son so that sinful man might receive His love. It is out of His love that man receives God’s grace for salvation, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). This “praise” is in response to the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said the “first and greatest commandment” is: ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matt. 22:37; Dt. 6:5). Why? Because, God reveals Himself as love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3); “…for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). Paul says that God’s love “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rms. 5:5). It is a merciful action of God that He loves man. It is an expression of His holiness. All that is good, right, and just is expressed in God’s love.

God is love. He loves His Son; He loves His children; and He commands His children to love others the same way. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34; cf. 15:12, 17). You are commanded to express the very nature of God’s agape love toward one another. But it gets even harder: you are commanded to love your neighbors this way (agape: Matt. 5:43); and harder still, you are commanded to love your enemies this way! (agape: 5:44)—not because they love you, but because God loves you and He wants them to see His love through you.

There are many verses of Scripture that I could share with you describing God’s love, but I simply ask you to read 1 Corinthians 13. This is called the “love” chapter. In it you find the description and the motivation of God’s love, from man’s vantage point. I say that because man cannot fathom the fullness and depth of God’s infinite love. It cannot be fully described; it can only be experienced. Read the love chapter; thank God He is this loving all the time. Pray to Him and ask for the spiritual ability to reflect His nature. Here’s His answer to that prayer: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). God the Father and God the Son will indwell you, by His Spirit, that you may reflect His nature and thereby express His agape love.

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