The Hardest Part of Agape Love
Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means love and romance are in the air. For about a month leading up to this day, you can’t walk into Wal-Mart or Target without being knocked over by the combination of red hearts and pink banners.
We are (hopefully) wise enough to realize that the type of love that is most often promoted and celebrated on Valentine’s Day is more romantic and attractional. While a wonderful type of love, it is far from being the deepest love one can express to another.
That love was the one the Greeks called agape, and it is the type of love we see often in the New Testament. For example, it is agape that is used in “the love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13.
The word carries a very deep idea. I like to define it as “others-centered, self-sacrificial love.” It always seeks what is the ultimate best for the other person. To state the matter bluntly, true agape love takes effort and is difficult.
Knowing that, what is the hardest part of this type of love? To answer that question, some might return to 1 Corinthians 13 and start surveying those descriptions found there (“love is patient and kind,” etc.). Eventually, they might come across one of those descriptions with which they struggle and say that must be the hardest part.
While agape takes a strong effort and while I might struggle with one or more of the traits of this powerful type of love, I want to suggest that there is something far more difficult about agape that makes it difficult.
What is it? It is that, even with all the effort and struggle of one person, agape can still be rejected.
Think about it. God is love (agape), and He showers that love to all people. Still, how many people reject His perfect love? To ask is to answer.
Yet, despite all those countless rejections, God’s nature will not allow Him to stop being agape and demonstrating this type of love (see Romans 5:6-10). It goes on, perfectly, through all time, despite rejection after rejection.
God demands that we do our best to be people of this type of love toward one another. Christians are to love one another (1 John 3:11). Husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25). Christians are even
commanded to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44). In each instance, the word is agape, which means we put forward the effort, but that love might be rejected.
It takes more than candy, flowers, and dressing up to express this type of love. Today, let’s enjoy the romantic and attractional side of love, but may we never forget that the deepest kind of love takes work, and Christians are commanded to live it out constantly…
…even if we never receive it in return from another person.