This morning I read 1 John 3:11-24 and 1 John 4:7-21. Both passages are about love. The first is titled, in the NIV study bible, Love One Another, and the second God’s Love and Ours.
Thankfully, I guessed correctly that the Greek word for love, used in these passages, is agape.
For those who don’t know, in the New Testament, there are 4 Greek variants for our English word love. These are: agape, philia, storge, and eros.
In short, the standard definitions of these words are as follows:
* Agape – unconditional love
* Philia – love for a close friend
* Storge – love for family, usually between parents and children
* Eros – sexual desire and romantic love.
(For more information visit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love)
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have developed a fairly good understanding of love – particularly agape. My understanding was initially at a cognitive level. I read pretty much every article I could on the subject. I asked questions, and sought answers. I discovered a lot. But, the real learning has taken place at an affective level. I have had to feel it and practice it.
At the heart of agape is choice. It doesn’t just happen, one has to choose to love someone unconditionally. And believe me, it’s not an easy choice! It’s also not a once for all choice either. It takes commitment, determination, and persistence. One has to choose agape over and over again. It’s a challenge!
The practice of agape looks something like this:
– choosing to love through good, bad, and ugly.
– accepting the other person unconditionally even when they make mistakes or upset us.
– accepting who they are as a person, and choosing to love them for them.
– practicing forgiveness when they make mistakes or behave badly towards us or others.
– thinking of them or praying for/with them about every area of their life.
– choosing to collaborate with them.
– practice good dialogue skills where both feel heard, seen, valued, accepted, loved, etc.
– being real, honest, and courageous within a boundaried relationship.
– holding each other accountable – different to blame.
This is just a short guide. It looks overwhelming and somewhat impossible, doesn’t it? We won’t succeed all the time, and it takes practice. See whether you can find someone to practice with, where you both choose agape. It has a habit of rippling into other relationships too. I strongly believe that it’s a practice worth investing in and that we are called, as disciples, to practice.