Bible Reading: John 2:13-17
The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children. Hebrews 12:6
CHECK ANY statements that say what true agape love looks like:
_____ Lie down in the doorway at school on a rainy day so people can clean their shoes on you.
_____Invite the clod who dings one door on your car to ding the other.
_____Offer your former best friend your computer and printer so she can make posters that spread ugly rumors about you.
Those weren’t too tough. Agape love doesn’t obligate you to do any of those things. But you might still think agape love-God’s gift-love-makes you into someone people can abuse. If that’s what you think, you’re missing a clear picture of love. Here are a few more points you need to know about agape.
First, love involves discipline. God is the flawlessly loving Father, yet he “disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children” (Hebrews 12:6). In the same way, love confronts people who are out of line-like Christian friends involved in obvious sin-because confrontational love ultimately spares them the painful consequences of their misbehavior.
Second, love can be tough. Jesus-God’s love in human form-unleashed anger at his opponents (see Mark 3:5), verbally blasted hypocrites (see Matthew 23), and physically chased greedy merchants out of the temple (see John 2). Love for your boss might require you to risk your job by confronting him or her about illegal business practices. Divine love is patient and kind, but it’s anything but spineless.
Third, love can fail. You may remember from some wedding sermon the 1 Corinthians 13:8 phrase “Love never fails” (NIV). Actually, the right translation is “Love will last forever.” The sad truth is this: Not everyone is won over by love. God loves unbelievers unendingly, but the reality of hell says untold numbers choose to spend eternity there.
God’s perfect love working through you protects and provides for others, but the truth is your best efforts might fail to make a difference in their lives. You might empty yourself of time, energy, and resources protecting and providing for someone only to find she isn’t interested. Then it’s time to remind yourself that God has been in the same spot: Jesus loved his apostles, but one betrayed him (see John 17:12). And God loves the world (see John 3:16), but many run from him (see Matthew 7:13-14).
Don’t give up doing love God’s way.
REFLECT: What does agape love really mean?
PRAY: Ask God to help you love wisely.