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By Dr. Al Hearne II

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God is Love! 1 John 4:7-10 declares, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we can be forgiven of our sins and restored to a right relationship with God!

The Greek word agape is used throughout this passage to describe God's love for his children and, therefore, the type of love with which God's children can love others. Agape is best described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, "Love is patient and kind; Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Note the positive characteristics of what agape is: patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, bears/believes/hopes/endures all things. Also, notice the negative characteristics that agape rejects: envy, boasting, arrogance, and rudeness. Agape depends upon the choice to love no matter what and is different from other types of love; all other types depend on thoughts and feelings. Agape is a deliberate choice to love unconditionally and is the cornerstone of God's love for his children. 

The good news is: if you are a child of God, then God loves you with agape love, and therefore, you, too, can love others with God's agape love. God's agape love showered on his children is manifested when they love others with God's agape love. God's agape love for his children produces God's agape love in his children. If a person does not love others with God's agape love, then this person does not know God and is not a child of God. 

God's agape love is so powerful that it motivated him to sacrifice Jesus to save all His children. God's agape love motivated him to send Jesus to die on the cross so that everyone who knows and believes in him can have eternal life. This agape love is initiated love. God loves his children so much that he initiated Jesus dying on the cross as the propitiation of our sins. Although God hates sin, and our human sin places a barrier between us and God. Yet, motivated by his agape love, God sent Jesus to be our propitiation and to satisfy his wrath by becoming the ultimate sacrifice and taking our sins away. Jesus' death on the cross removed the barrier between God and his children.

As children of God, our response to God's initiated love must be to love God back with the same agape love he has placed in our lives. Does understanding God's agape love change how you view your relationship with Him and others? In what practical ways can you demonstrate God's agape love to those around you, even in challenging situations?

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