Unconditional Love

This Valentine’s Day we are choosing to focus on agape (unconditional) love. Strong’s Concordance defines agape, a Greek word, as “love, benevolence, good will, charity, and esteem.”

God has unconditional love for his people; his love is so selfless that he “did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17 NRSV).  As “imitators of God” we are called to do the same by loving our neighbor; whether friend or enemy (Ephesians 5:1-2 NRSV).  1 Corinthians 13:1-8 describes this type of love beautifully:

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (NRSV).

As Christians, we are called to love in a way that is countercultural. Following God is not just about doing and saying the right things, but doing and saying the right things with the right heart and attitude. Some ways this selfless love can be exemplified are by inviting the new couple at church to sit next to you, taking care of your neighbor’s basic needs, turning the other cheek, being patient, practicing forgiveness, being humble, listening to others, and giving without expecting anything in return.

Ways to Show Agape (Unconditional) Love:

Generosity and Acts of Kindness
Give without expecting anything in return. Pay for the person in the drive-thru line behind you, open doors, or help pay bills for a family you know is struggling.

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Luke 6:35 NRSV).

Listen to others, be patient with them, and don’t insist on always getting your way.

“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20 NRSV).

Love others by how you act toward them and try to picture yourself in their position. In the same way, watch how you respond to situations, and as Paul says in Philippians 2:14 “do all things without murmuring and arguing” (NRSV).

“Every time we pray our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more.” – Oswald Chambers

Remember the Calling of the Church
We can show unconditional love by donating time, talents, and resources to missions, ministries of the church, supporting the education of our pastors, etc. Gifts of an endowment or charitable gift annuity can lengthen the reach and impact of the church for this generation and generations to come.

“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me’” (Matthew 25:34-36 NRSV).

Free Valentine’s Day Resources
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