“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14).
The word agape is the most commonly used word for “love” in the original language of the New Testament Scriptures. It is also the word translated “love” in the passage quoted above.
The type of love referenced here in Colossians 3:14 is not necessarily reflected by a feeling, emotion, or external display of affection. Unlike other some forms of love, agape is not inherently dependent on the way we feel towards someone else. Instead, it is characterized by a willingness to love and a commitment to act in the best interest of others, even in the absence of an emotional feeling.
We find the best illustration of this type of love in God’s love towards us. For instance, the New Testament book of 1 John tells us that love is an intrinsic part of God’s nature for “…God is love” (1 John 4:8, see also 1 John 4:16). Unfortunately, there is nothing inherently lovable within human beings who have chosen to reject their Creator. Therefore, God chooses to love by His will. In other words, He determines to love because it is His nature to love.
We can also associate agape love with the kind of love that continues without a request for something in return. Because of this, agape love is very different from the type of “love” we often experience in our fallen world. For example…
- Human expressions of love are sometimes manipulative but agape love seeks to bless others.
- Human displays of love may arise out of a hidden desire for self-gratification but agape love seeks another person’s highest good.
- Human love is sometimes based on the attraction of money, success, or physical appearance but agape love is not dependent upon any of those things.
- Human demonstrations of love may be temperamental or impulsive while agape love is stable, devoted, and unchanging.
Because of this, the selfless nature of agape love will likely be unfamiliar to those whose understanding of “love” has been shaped through television, movies, social networking platforms, or other forms of mass media. Therefore, God gave us Christ as an example. There may be no greater summary of God’s love towards us than the one found in John 3:16…
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”