August 25, 2019
The strongest affection that binds humans is believed to be this wondrous thing called love.
Yet, countless times love is also known to have brought heartbreaks to many. This seemingly dark side of love has caused some to doubt if it is worth loving at all.
Unrequited love is rather common between the sexes. Even long-time lovers can find love slipping through their fingers. Love can wane unexpectedly. Thus, heartbroken lovers grieve over failed relationships, failed romances and failed marriages. To them love is something that, by its fleeting nature, is doomed to fail. It is but a beautiful bubble that could burst anytime.
So, when Paul the Christian apostle stated that “Love never fails,” was he exaggerating the power of love, or was he ignorant of the reality of so many broken hearts?
Love that never fails
Interestingly, the Greeks have defined love in distinct forms. Eros is the attraction between the sexes. Storge is the love among blood relatives. Philea is love among friends.
Agape, though, is considered the most ideal and the most desirable affection. It goes beyond strong liking arising from having a common race, nationality, culture, and the same interests and creeds. It is said to be grounded on values and principles. At its best, agape can move one to give his own life for the sake of another.
Paul described agape this way: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthans 13: 4 – 8)
Patient and kind. “True love waits,” goes one old song. It could not have referred to eros or romantic love. Eros in many examples proves to be largely selfish love. “It’s now or never . . . so love me tonight,” blurts another popular song. It apparently expresses a strong desire for a ‘one nightstand.”
On the other hand, agape is inherently patient; it is willing to wait out adversities for the best interests of the one loved.
Not jealous, bragging and puffed up. Agape, being unselfish, does not get jealous of another. It is devoid of egoistic pride, an overestimation of one’s true worth.
Does not look for its own interests. Agape love is basically ‘others-minded’, not wrapped up in oneself. It is therefore self-sacrificing. Yet it brings indescribable happiness and self-fulfillment to the one who loves. As Jesus noted, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35)
Does not keep account of the injury. Agape lovers, in some way, must be capable of “selective amnesia.” They ignore affronts to themselves or forget them altogether. They would rather not dwell on the injury inflicted on them by ill-willed persons, knowing that those are imperfect humans just like themselves. Those who possess agape are also great forgivers. They subscribe to the saying, “The first to forgive is the strongest, the first to forget, the wisest.”
Believes all things. That is, only the good or positive realities about others. It is not being gullible or naïve. Agape-driven souls would rather search for anything of virtue about others, not allowing themselves to be blinded by bias or prejudice. They imitate God, who does not look only for errors even in imperfect humans. (Psalm 130:3)
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. One who applies principled love would never take delight in anything immoral, corrupt and harmful. He would have passion for truth, and live it for all it takes.
Bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things. A rare trait of agape that lifts it above every other emotion is its ability to stand adversities. One who exudes agape could withstand perhaps the most tragic, the most trying circumstances in life. Why?
This love is founded on a strong faith in God and an ever-bright hope for an everlasting future. The agape-inspired believer would never give in to doubt or fear, even in the face of seemingly hopeless situations. He believes God is stronger than his fears, having the power to rescue him anytime.
How strong is agape
Agape love is undoubtedly the love that conquers all. Jesus, who epitomizes love, stated confidently to his disciples: “Have no fear, for I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Motivated by love for Jehovah God his Father and love for mankind, Jesus had overpowered every evil force brought to bear upon him by Satan and the world. No temptation nor threat could break his integrity. Yes, it was Jesus who demonstrated the conquering power of love in a most spectacular way. He gave his life for us.
This harmonizes perfectly with the use of agape in John 3:16, saying, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone excercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”
Happily, agape too can empower the faithful to “keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:21)
In a small farm a Christian man had to endure countless times his neighbor’s rude and uncaring behavior. This neighbor had kept ignoring the farmer’s appeals that he keep his pigs from stomping around and destroying the farmer’s camote plants.
One late afternoon the farmer, a Jehovah’s Witness, cooked a dish of fish and camote leaves, then brought a bowlful to his unfriendly neighbor.
Surprised, the neighbor asked, “Do you really mean to give me this food?”
The farmer replied, smiling, “Yes, of course. But please, I could have cooked more if only your pigs had not ruined much of my crops lately.”
The unexpected gesture apparently “disarmed” the unfriendly neighbor. From then on the two neighbors had become good friends.
And the pigs? The neighbor who owns them had never let them loose on the farmer’s crops again.
Source of love’s unfailing power
Agape love is therefore all the godly virtues rolled into one — kindness, patience, endurance, mildness, righteousness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Those who manifest this love are a powerhouse of goodness and always a source of joy, relief and comfort to others.
Can anyone cultivate it in himself at will? The truth is, imperfect, sinful humans can have agape only with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, his active force. The Holy Book refers to it as “the power beyond normal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) One can ask God for it in heartfelt prayer.
Agape is indeed the love that “never fails.” Why? Because “God is love”, and God never fails. (1John 4:8)
BY MAX SUCQUIT JR
LIGHT FOR LIFE
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net