In many different words, the Greeks described the many different types of love that we all experience. Love happens every day, all around us. We need words to describe that and the Greeks used a variety of words for that purpose.
But, not all love is normal or typical. There is a love that transcends the ordinary. We find this kind of love throughout the pages of the Bible and it is known as agape.
Agape is the word used to describe God’s love for you and me. It is characterized by loyalty and faithfulness, desire and passion, sincerity and purity with a singleness of purpose. But, there is one characteristic of agape love that rises to the top as the signature trait of the love of God. That element is sacrifice.
God’s love for mankind is a love that is willing to take on all the pain that love can bring. God’s love doesn’t just reach out to express itself. It goes beyond that in a way that says, “I will do whatever it takes to show My love for you.”
That means sacrifice. It means putting one’s own self on hold for the benefit of the one who is loved. In the Bible, that looks like this:
1 Corinthians 13:2-8
“…If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Those words are the greatest words ever spoken about love. They were written by Paul, God’s spokesman 2000 years ago. They have been recited more, memorized more, quoted more, and written and read more than any other statement about love in the history of the earth. They tell us how God defines agape love.
Love, however, can never be fulfilled if it is only words and empty gestures. Love must be lived. It must be acted upon. Tomorrow, we will learn about how God did just that. We will see the agape love of God in action.