Am I the only one? I don’t think I am. I think some of you do it, too.
We know the word agape and we know it means sacrificial, but we don’t really connect the dots beyond that. Sure, it costs. But I think I tend to assume that when it’s agape, I’ll win in the end. And by win, I mean be loved in return.
I’m discovering that’s not true.
At least, not in the way I tend to want.
The reality is, if I want love from that person, I’m doing it wrong. It’s not agape. Sure, it costs me, but the goal is myself not the other person.
If I understand that my desire can only be satisfied by God, then I can truly love.
Then it can be about the other person.
Then it can be sacrificial.
Then it can be painful.
And you know what? Then I can be ok anyway.
When was the last time you gave to someone and it didn’t benefit you? When there was no thank you, no smile? No response at all? Or maybe even a negative response?
Can you give when it benefits the recipient and it hurts you?
The first step is in understanding that the response needs to come from God, not the receiver.
The second is valuing their soul.
Do you feel their pain? Will you step in and minister to them?
Or how about this.
Do you feel their pain when they don’t?
What I mean by that is this — can you look beyond and see the wreck before it happens?
In Galatians, Paul writes to rebuke them for trusting in works instead of Jesus. He says in 4:10, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
When was the last time your love for someone resulted that way? Because really loving someone will sometimes cause conflict. If you avoid the conflict and keep your mouth shut… Well, that’s self-preservation, not love.
And Paul rebuked them for that too – in 6:1 he says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
Far too often we keep silent. Why?
It’s time to love.
To love like Jesus, who went to the cross for us when we were ignorant of him at best and antagonistic of him at worst.
Jesus, who loved us when it hurt him.
It’s ok to be hurt by love. To love at all is to be vulnerable. It means taking chances. It means standing out and being honest. It means making a person’s soul the most important thing.
In 2nd Corinthians Paul tells of his struggles, trials, and suffering. At the end of his list in chapter 11, he adds: “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?”
If we really want to love, to have an agape love, we must value someone’s soul over our pleasure and comfort.
May we set ourselves as watchers over the souls of those around us, ready to love and give consistently, through rain and shine, through blessing and through trial, through joy and though suffering, until it hurts us to help them.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.