Written by Jimmy Towson
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:5-8
We’ve come to the end of Peter’s list of virtues we Christians are to exhibit in our daily lives. And the end of it is a different kind of love. Peter says, “add to your mutual affection (philadelphia)” the ultimate kind of love - agapē.
This form of love is an outward-focused, selfless attitude that leads one to sacrifice for the good of others. It’s the kind of love that Christ has for us - willing to sacrifice his life for us “while we were yet sinners” as the Bible says. Agapē love is the supreme virtue that holds all the other virtues in Peter’s list together.
Paul gave us a similar list of virtues in Colossians 3:12-14. Paul reminds us in verse 14 that it is agapē love that binds all the other virtues together.
Agapē love is the active love of God for his people, and the active love His people are to have for Him, each other, our neighbors, even our enemies. It’s the kind of love Jesus referred to in the Great Commandment(read John 13:34-35), and the kind that He said would identify us as His followers!
It’s easy to talk about loving like this, but it can be hard to put into practice at times.
C.S. Lewis offered some great advice on how to develop this kind of love, even when we don’t feel like doing so:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” – C.S. Lewis
In other words, to borrow from a popular sports slogan - Just do it! The more we practice agapē love, the easier it gets to do it. And, when we love like this - the other virtues fall in place, and we will be able to experience the promises of 2 Peter 1:10-11:
10 ... Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That’s the ultimate goal - a rich welcome into Christ’s kingdom!
- Where have you ever experienced agapē love - where someone else sacrificed for you?
- How did it make you feel?
- Why is it hard for us to demonstrate agapē love for those around us?
- What are some of the obstacles to loving like this?
- What are some practical ways you can demonstrate agapē love right now?
- Make a list, and put a mark by each one you practice this week.
- Who could you find that would help you practice this kind of active love more often?