And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:23-24 (NKJV)
It is not always easy for believers to exhibit “agape” love. Agape love is more than an emotional response. It is an intentional act of one’s will. This type of love demands that believers do what’s best for others. It values and esteems, unselfishly ready to serve (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16, 17). In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul describes agape love “in action”: 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 what about that person who abuses you or maligns your reputation? Jesus’ teaching on love directs believers to not only love our enemies, but also “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Love, bless, do good, AND pray? Is this a difficult request? Yes but not impossible. Our ability to love as God commands is NOT natural; it can only be accomplished “supernaturally” through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. How does that happen?
When the Holy Spirit takes residence in the believer’s life at conversion, He begins to conform the believer to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29); this includes instilling in them the desire to obey His commandments: I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27)
As the believer’s personal relationship with the Lord grows (through prayer, reading God’s Word, and meditation), the Holy Spirit enables the believer to better express agape love. Love is the “first fruit” of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22). It is God’s Spirit abiding within us that enables us to love like God. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in Him” (1 John 4:16).
Good to the Last Byte…
In the past, God has directed me to pray for people who have not treated me very nicely. I asked, “Why me? He didn’t answer.” And what were the results? Did the person treat me better? No but being obedient to His directive resulted in new freedom and personal insight about the Holy Spirit’s awesome power. In His power, I could see that person as God did and love them (Rom. 5:8). In His power, I learned I can do things that seem impossible in my “natural strength”. God is faithful to His promise when He said, “I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10).