WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO LOVE SACRIFICIALLY?

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Mighty waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.Song of Solomon 8:7

What is agape love? This is the love the Father has for all His created beings. It is a love that is unconditional, unquenchable, absolute. Nothing could ever dissipate God’s complete love for mankind. It is bestowed freely as an outpouring of His unending mercy, compassion and grace.

The agape love of God is so vast, so wide, so deep, so high as to be immeasurable, boundless, infinite. Nothing could ever separate us from God’s love. Nothing we could ever do could make Him love us any more or any less.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Above all, agape love is sacrificial. It is the highest form of love. This is the love that moved the Father to offer His only Son Jesus to be sacrificed on our behalf…. the holy for the unholy. No one else could perfectly atone for the sins of the world.

No one else was so perfectly pure, so absolutely righteous. Only the One who came down from heaven…. One of the Holy Trinity…. One who lived as altogether God and altogether Man. Only He could be the world’s Redeemer. And God offered Him out of agape love for us.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

Agape love is Jesus personified. For He is God and God is love. This is the love that led Jesus to the cross to be our Savior. To die so those He loved may live. We are the beneficiaries of His ultimate sacrifice. We are heirs of the eternal life He won for us at so high a sacrificial price.

“Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” – Ephesians 5:2

Agape love is not intrinsically a reciprocal love. It depends not on the behavior of the recipient. This love cannot be earned. It depends not on one’s inherent goodness or worth. This love is given as a fragrant and heartfelt offering.

Jesus was inherently loving. He could always see a person’s true nature. He knew their past… their hidden secrets… their wayward ways. Yet no one was outside of His love. No one was beyond His loving touch.

Jesus loved us when we were unlovable, unworthy… living in sin and rebellion. He came to save the world once for all. No exceptions. He laid down His life for us and brought us into God’s eternal kingdom because of His agape love.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16

Agape love is not a worldly love. It is rare to find in our “Me first” world today. We live in a self-seeking and self-serving society. Everyone is busy pursuing their own agendas and dreams with little regard for others.

Our natural tendency is to think of ourselves first… to think about our wants, our desires, our goals. Yet this is antithetic to the ways of God. That is why Jesus gave us His Spirit. He knew we could not reach out with agape love on our own.

The agape love of Jesus lives in all believers through the Holy Spirit. This love of the Spirit is not a conditional love. It is an unconditional love. A love that says… “You are loved for who you are.” Nothing can change that love. It is a love born of God.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:13-14

God sees us with the eyes of love. We are to view others through His eyes of love… His sacrificial, agape love. This love is more than an emotion. It is a choice that manifests in caring and compassionate action.

Agape love speaks kindly and acts rightly. It is grace-filled, acting in another’s best interests. It is empathetic, giving of one’s time and comfort, often to the extent of self-sacrifice. It is unconditional, reaching out without expecting reciprocation.

Agape love is outward oriented, wanting the best for others. The power of agape love is supernatural… a manifestation of God’s unselfish love. Because this love is so different from the world’s love, people take notice. This love unifies believers and draws unbelievers to Christ.

†   How can we express agape love to our needy world? How can we lay down our lives for others?

Jesus calls us to love others as He loves us. This sacrificial love may sound daunting. Yet remember, you have the power within you… the power of His Spirit. Begin by turning your thoughts away from your own concerns and toward the people in your life. Come to make Jesus’ ways your ways.

Reach out with the Savior’s heart of compassion. Show a sincere interest in others’ lives. Listen and encourage. Seek to alleviate any suffering. Face challenges together. Share sorrows and joys. Love like Jesus. Exhibit His selfless love without expectations. Become a living example of His sacrificial, agape love to your world.