Love Without Strings
Bible Reading: John 15:9-17
I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. John 15:12
The scratch on Alondra’s face sparked a lot of good conversations. For six days of her spring break, Alondra baby-sat inner-city children while their moms attended Bible classes. While her friends lounged on the beach, she burped babies. And when they came back to school to show off their tans, Alondra wondered if the scratch dug into her cheek by an angry five-year-old would leave a scar.
Have you heard of agape love? Agape (rhymes with “uh-sloppy”) is a Greek New Testament word that English Bibles translate simply as “love.” Agape is love that’s from God. It’s the love that gives without expecting anything in return. It’s the love that makes the health, happiness, and growth of others as important to us as our own. And it’s the kind of love that motivates students like Alondra to give up time, treasures, and perfect tans to do countless kind deeds.
A famous Christian author, C. S. Lewis, called agape “gift-love.” When God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross, that was the world’s biggest demonstration of gift-love. John wrote, “This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Talk about it: When have you received gift-love? When have you given it?
The Bible makes totally clear how powerful gift-love is—and how important it is:
• “Love your enemies!” (Matthew 5:44).
• “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
• “Love each other in the same way that I love you” (John 15:12).
• “Everything you do must be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
• “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins” (Ephesians 5:2).
• “Let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. . . . Since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (1 John 4:7, 11).
Showing God-powered agape love is the only way we can ever love people we don’t find lovable—like enemies, misfits, and grimy toddlers. Gift-love is the kind of love Jesus has for us. And it’s the love he puts in us for others!
TALK: How are you doing at loving people with the gift-love God puts in you? Or is your agape a little sloppy?
PRAY: Jesus, you have an incredible love for us. Help us to pass that love on to others.
ACT: Who in your life needs some gift-love today? What do you want to do about it?