This afternoon, I had the chance to attend a Circle of Support and Accountability meeting at our church. I am new to this group, but what I know so far it is for people who are recently released from prison. As you may know, I was arrested and charged with 1St degree theft and was sentenced to 3 years of parole. Tonight we got to meet a your woman who is facing prison time due to drugs. I can’t tell you here real name right now but from what I learned from her tonight. She is a very smart, caring and loving person who has made some mistakes in her life. From this first meeting tonight, I get a good feeling that she can make the changes to her life and with some help make her life better. We all make mistakes, but some of us just make bigger ones.
When people do things that are wrong and even things that may hurt us, we take it very personalty. Most of us have a very hard time forgiving others when we think we have been hurt. We are quick to act and even judge them, and think we know all there is to know about why the other person did what they did. We are only thinking about our feelings and our needs and how they took some thing from us. We never think what real story is and just maybe there is so much more to what we really know. To act in love for people we don’t even know and not judge them is all God asks of us. Too many times we are quick to judge others and think we have the right to treat them badly just because they deserve it for doing us wrong. To love some one who may not deserve to be loved is called agape love.
Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to do so, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the Cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The object of agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.
In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us, or even hate us, as the Jews did the Samaritans. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. But this type of love does not come naturally to humans. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. But again, it is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.