Edit: I wrote the following Easter Sunday.
Today is Easter, where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who had died three days earlier on a cross of Calvary. So, in honor of Jesus, I will speak of how to love like Him—how to agape love, for I strongly believe that Jesus was the greatest example of agape love there ever was or will be. I think everyone, regardless of religious belief, can learn how to love sacrificially and lavishly—which is what loving the agape way involves. Here are some of the principles of agape love I have drawn from the Bible and from my life experiences, and how one can apply them to their own lives:
- Agape love involves being able to sacrifice one’s life for another.—Agape love is not only demonstrated by dying for another, so that their life can be saved, though it definitely involves that as well. Agape love involves loving someone else when it is not convenient or when it is difficult. For instance, I know of someone who is caring for a sick partner at home, and often sacrifices their own needs and desires so that their partner can get the care they need. This is an example of true agape love. Many people our society today would just break up or divorce their partner if they were very sick or disabled. It is a rare gem to find someone who will stick with you through thick and thin, but that is exactly the kind of love we all need. Do you know someone who is sick or hurting, either physically or emotionally? Will you be the person who cares about and is there for them when they need you? Agape love sacrifices our desires for the sake of others’ needs.
- Agape love expresses gratitude regularly (principle from: Colossians 3:16-17*) and does not get jealous.—When someone else gets a reward or recognition, even if it is for something the agape lover (one who loves sacrificially) wants, he or she will not get jealous, but will be happy for him or her who got the reward. This is because the agape lover knows that everything he or she gets is a gift, not something “owed” to them, or “deserved.” Agape love does not know or act entitled. He or she who expresses agape love is very thankful for what is received. I sometimes see or hear of people getting jealous over material possessions, such as cars or nice houses that they can’t even take with them when they die! Also, the people having them will also have to leave these possessions on earth when they die. In contrast, the agape lover strives, like Jesus, to be generous, because they know that the relationships we have with other people will matter much more than our material possessions.
- When one loves someone in an agape manner, he or she doesn’t think evilly of that person. —When someone truly loves another they strive to not only to do what is best for that other person, but to think about them in the best way possible. We aim to protect our loved ones for this reason! When we truly strive to love someone, we will not harbor angry or bitter thoughts towards that person. For instance, when a good friend of ours doesn’t call us for several days, after calling us pretty regularly before, we will typically not assume they hate us or are upset at us. We will just assume that they are busy, or they had to tend to a family emergency. We will give them the benefit of the doubt always, unless they explicitly tell us otherwise. Someone who agape loves always strives to forgive the other, if the other person should offend them. They will always hope for reconciliation and peace for the other person, no matter how they react or what they do.
- When someone loves in an agape way, they are willing to be vulnerable and honest (principle from Colossians 3:9**).—Love is always honest and vulnerable. We truly only lie to people we don’t trust or don’t like. Since love and trust go hand in hand, we are willing to be vulnerable and honest with someone we love. When someone agape loves you, they are willing to be honest about their faults and their painful experiences, because love does not need pride or perfection in order to preserve itself. I know that when someone is wanting to be close to me when they are willing to trust me with their pain. When I want to be close to someone, I will do the same. Yes, there is always a risk in loving someone, because vulnerability always carries with it the risk of rejection. However, there is also a possibility that this sharing will also bring you closer to that person with whom you are sharing.
First and foremost, agape love involves sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you don’t have the highest form of love—agape love—at all. Love also involves much gratitude and joy. Love also “thinketh no evil” of another (1 Corinthians 13: 5-KJV), and is always willing to be vulnerable and honest. The world needs more people who will give sacrificial, lasting, and genuine love. Who will you agape love today?
*= “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”-Colossians 3:16-17
**= “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”—Colossians 3:9 (KJV)