TO CHEW ON: "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5
Hope cannot only exist but thrive in us because of the quality of God's love. It is the agapé love that Paul describes so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. A sidebar article in my Bible explains this love:
"Agapé denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable good will that always seeks the good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agapé is more a love by choice than philos which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotions. Agapé describes the unconditional love God has for the world" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Live Bible, p. 1556. (Emphases added.)
This love, Paul says, "… has been poured out in our heart."
I see two implications:
1. We receive this love from God.
The quality of this love means we can have hope because God's intentions toward us are always and only for our good. This love is not contingent on how loveable we are or on us doing anything to earn or keep it.
Paul lists some of our inadequacies to earn or achieve this love further on:
- "...when we were still without strength" Christ demonstrated this love by dying for us - Romans 5:6.
- "... while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" - Romans 5:8.
- "... when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God..." - Romans 5:10. (Emphases added.)
2. We give this love to others.
Doesn't that follow? If our hearts are full of this love, won't it flow out to others, and back to God. John, in his letters, kneads the necessity of our love for each other into the dough of everyday life.
- "He who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him" - 1 John 2:10.
- "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother - 1 John 3:10.
- "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" - 1 John 4:7.
- By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" - 1 John 5:2. (Emphases added.)
So, if we're wanting more of that agapé love in our lives, how do we get it?
I believe as we read about, meditate on, and accept by faith God's love for us, our ability to love Him and others will expand. And, we need to remember that while agapé love is supernatural, we have a part to play in it. It is also loving by choice. It is a love of the will rather than the emotions. It is a love we choose to nourish in our lives.
PRAYER: Dear Father, please grow hope in me by helping me to understand the breadth of Your love for me, and by choosing to love all those around me in the way You love me. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.