Today I read I Corinthians 13 with a new perspective and through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. What a personal revelation! I have always heard that chapter referred to as the "love chapter" and it was equated with the love between a husband and wife. Yes the qualities listed in that chapter certainly should be working in our marriages, but this chapter isn't referring to marriage. The love spoken of in that chapter is agape love. Agape love is mentioned in the New Testament more than any other type of love--259 times! It is a total, all encompassing love that has nothing to do with what that person does. It is love for mankind without stipulations. It is the love Jesus had for all of mankind. It is being able to see beyond the things that are different, the things you don't like about someone, their sins; and see them as God sees them. Agape love is being able to see past the wrong they have done--even to you personally--to see why they do it and feeling compassion and empathy for the person that Jesus also died for.
Agape love is not an emotional love as phileo (brotherly) eros (sexual, as in the relationship between a husband and wife). It is an all-encompassing compassion and empathy for mankind, as Jesus demonstrated when He died on the cross for all of mankind and their sin. Not only did He die for His disciples, followers and those who were good to Him and in agreement with him; He also died for the Pharisees, criminals, soldiers and rulers who hated Him. With agape love, you do not love because you feel love in an emotional sense. You have compassion because Jesus died for them, whether they accept it or not.
Now, from that perspective, how much love do you show for all those you come in contact with? What about those who have a different mindset than you? Homosexuals? Different religions? Atheists? These days, even Christian Republicans and Christian Democrats are at each others throats! That in no way is showing agape love for mankind. Agape love has nothing to do with giving your "stamp of approval" to their beliefs or behaviors. We must look beyond "their faults and see their needs". Allow the Holy Spirit to show you the person that Jesus sees. The Holy Spirit will give you discernment if you will change your perspective. You will be amazed at how your heart will change toward someone you looked at as your enemy when you see them through the eyes of the Holy Spirit!
This is a VITAL concept, affecting your growth, prosperity and favor in the Kingdom of God. Embracing a love for all of mankind and living your life daily in that manner is essential, not only to help others, but also for fulfilling your purpose and living a blessed fulfilled Kingdom life!
Ok, so maybe we understand agape love in the abstract. We have a mental understanding, but how do we put agape love in action? First pray for the Holy Spirit to allow you to see people as He does. See past their behavior, to who they really are. Agape love must be in your mind, your actions and in your heart. Then your words, actions and body language will show compassion, empathy and kindness to them. Jesus isn't here in the flesh anymore. That's why he sent you to cross their path. Be the Kingdom to them. You aren't so angry with "them" that you think they don't deserve Jesus, are you? Be honest and examine your heart.
Look what one encounter with the Kingdom did to Saul! One "road to Damascus" moment may be all they need to be forever changed. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6 And Saul became Paul, who went on to write this "love chapter" of I Corinthians 13! He went from killing believers to leading them. Oh what untapped potential is within those you so boldly scorn! Why aren't you fulfilling your purpose and why don't you feel blessed and prosperous? Read this wonderful chapter of I Corinthians 13 from this new perspective and the Holy Spirit's direction and you will see.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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