By Katie Kafka
At the top of a list of attributes there is love, followed by seven additional qualities that become the trademark of someone walking in freedom. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; each one endearing qualities that this world needs more of and yet, love is at the forefront of all these virtues. The implication of this subtle detail guides me down the path of freedom where love is the trail beneath my feet. I realize that without the trail, one cannot experience the harmonies associated with walking by the Spirit. Such as the:
joy heard in myriad bird songs or the
peace felt in a ray of morning sun or the
patience of a slight breeze or the
kindness by a couple steps in shade or the
goodness found in a full breath of fresh air or the
faithfulness of towering trees or the
gentleness of butterflies discovering nectar or the
self-control of a wildflower awaiting it’s bloom.
With love as the firm footing, the journey comes to life in a way that not only captivates the sojourner but it also becomes attractively noticeable to other travelers. Which begs the question, what does this love look like? What defines this type of love? There are so many layers to love that expression of it can look different. With all the assorted articulations, love remains constant at its core, enabling us to notice true love when we see it. Love is found in the very nature of God. He chose to demonstrate the fullness of His love through Jesus Christ.
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NASB). Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 NASB). We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17 NASB)
Agape. This is the type of love that the Holy Spirit produces in us when we place our faith and trust in God. Belief leads us down this path of love as we live and walk by the Spirit. Agape is not emotional affection or physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape is love that involves choice and respect and devotion that progresses to willing, sacrificial service for others. Agape is an outward love that shines brighter than superficial infatuation. True agape is essential to our relationship with God and man. It is the type of love that only comes from a desire to know Him. For when we draw near to God who is love, we get a glimpse of His love for us. As we begin to realize His love for us, the innate response becomes praise and reverence and devotion and a desire to imitate His love toward others in our own lives.
Pursue God first. Then pursue people the way He does. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard to religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love (Galatians 5:6 MSG).
Engaging in agape transforms lives, starting with your heart. It gradually becomes this meaningful expression of loving God and loving people. So where might this attribute sit with you today? As you live and walk daily in the Spirit, do you welcome opportunities to let love flourish in your life? Take some time to pray about what agape opportunities God has in store for you as you journey this trail of life in freedom.