There are at least three different kinds of love in the Konoia Greek (i.e Biblical Greek) language:
phileo- Means a love based on a mutual affection for the other, a friendship, basically
eros- Means a romantic kind of love, based on physical affection and attraction for another
agape (or agapaō)- Means a deep-rooted love, not based only on merit or affection, but more of an unconditional, merciful kind of love
While phileo and especially eros type of love is everywhere, agape love is sorely lacking in most societies in this day and age. Agape love is God’s love as I have shared in an earlier post. It is the love of Jesus when He washed His disciples feet, even though they were all going to leave and betray Him, and even though He would suffer much anguish because of them and all the rest of humanity! It is the love of God when He spares His people from harm, even when they have sinned against Him again and again on purpose.
There are many hurting people in this world today; even we hurt sometimes. I spoke with several people today who were hurting or stressed. Sadly, most of them felt like that only a few people even cared about their hurt. Sometimes, other people take advantage of their hurt and exploit them to their own ends. How sad in both scenarios indeed! What is needed is true, constant, agape love.
How to demonstrate agape-type love to a hurting world:
1.) Invest in other people: Sure there are times to attend to our own needs, but we need to make more of a concerted effort to reach out to others, especially those who are hurting. We can do this by volunteering to help people in need, being kind and gracious, giving a listening ear, or simply by passionate, specific prayer for people in our lives that are hurting or need prayer.
2.) Never give up on people.: In my personal life, there have been some people that have “rubbed me the wrong way,” but I never want to give up on loving them as Christ would, because I wouldn’t want to be given up on by God or them either, when I am in need. Of course, there are times when we may need to “give up” certain people, such as if they are becoming unrepentantly abusive or are physically endangering us in some way. However, we still can pray and/or hope they return to their senses. Also, when we are kind even to those who are not kind back, we are “heaping burning coals on their heads,” so to speak. That is, at least in my experience, they will either a.) accumulate judgment for themselves in eternity if they continue to be mean to us OR b.) They will start to feel guilty about treating us badly, and start to be kinder to us in the future.
3.) Forgive, forgive, forgive- Along with #2, we need to be able and willing to forgive those who have hurt us in the past, not only to show God’s love to them, but also to free us of bitterness, anger and resentment against them. Unforgiveness robs us of joy and peace, and it also poisons our other relationships, because we often displace our anger unto other innocent people without realizing it. It robs us of joy and peace, because, at least in my experience, we (I) tend to brood over how the other person or persons hurt me and how much I’m now suffering because of that person or persons. That often leads to self-pity and depression.
4.) Listen and be compassionate.- We, as a society, need to do a better job of listening to people. One of my former pastors said that a lot of people in this world today just want to be heard. The problem is they feel that no one’s listening. What a sad indictment! To help you listen, ask questions about what the person is talking about. Affirm the other person’s feelings always. Never dismiss another person’s beliefs or feelings as irrelevant. For instance, if a person vents to you about a problem with one of their relationships, instead of blaming them for that problem or saying something like, “You think you got it bad, let me tell you about….”, tell them, ” I am sorry you are having problems with person “X”. Is there anything I can do to help support you in this difficult time?” Also, don’t offer unsolicited advice. Just being there and listening is good enough for most people.
Agape love is what I strive for in all my relationships with people, and what I believe God wants for all of us. We all need to strive for this kind of love too, if we want that kind of love in return. I understand that our hurt and sometimes lack of trust for others, especially towards those who have hurt us, may make this more difficult, but with God’s help, this is not impossible. For those who I haven’t loved this way, I am very sorry, and I will strive to do better by you in the future. For those that need this type of love, please know that there are people out there who do care about you. They may be difficult to find, but trust me they are out there. For the rest of us who know and experience this love on a daily basis, either or both by God and others, I have this question for you: Who can you agape love today?