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Agape love

The Bible uses agape, the Greek word for love, to describe perfect love.

Rhoda Wolle

First Corinthians defines agape love like this: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (13:4-7).

This is agape love—a perfect, unselfish, unconditional love—the type of love God has for us. There is nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make him love us less. Think how Jesus loved us enough to suffer and die in our place. He sacrificed so much for us.

Not only is the agape love of Jesus our treasure; it is also our motivation and pattern. As we love others, our love, like his, does not depend on anything the other person says or does.

Imagine: Your love for your spouse has nothing to do with what he or she does or says. Your love for your children is not based on what they do or how they act. Your love for your parents holds no record of wrongs, but instead protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.

Agape love means you support and encourage your friends, even though it seems you often give more than you receive. You love even if they forget your birthday or if they always vent their frustrations without asking about yours. Agape love does not depend on what they do; it is a reflection of the love of Jesus for us.

Agape love . . . is a reflection of the love of Jesus for us.

Agape love means you love your spouse even if the garbage isn’t taken out, the dishes aren’t done, or there are no flowers. You love even when both of you say unkind or insensitive things to each other. Your love is not dependent on what is done or left undone. Unconditional means there are no conditions that prevent your love.

That is the love God has for us.

To love this way is a tall order, and I fall short every day. I never will be perfect, but each day I turn back to Jesus and find forgiveness and a fresh supply of strength to do better. His mercies are new every morning, and each day we begin again.

There is an exercise that has been a wonderful blessing to me throughout my life. I reread Paul’s definition of love from 1 Corinthians, and every time it says “love” or “it,” first I insert the name of Jesus, and then I go back and insert my name.

Try it. Jesus’ name first, then your name.

_____ is patient, _____ is kind. _____ does not envy, _____ does not boast, _____ is not proud. _____ does not dishonor others, ______ is not self-seeking, _____ is not easily angered, _____ keeps no record of wrongs. _____ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. _____ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There is a lot of pressure when we insert our name in the blank. But a wise friend recently reminded me that it’s not us; we have a God who is love and fulfills it in every way. You have that love, and you can share that love!

This article is adapted and reprinted with permission from

Author: Rhoda Wolle
Volume 107, Number 02 Issue:
February 2020

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  • Rhoda Wolle

    Dr. Rhoda Wolle serves as Dean of Student Success at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis. Her mission is celebrating Jesus, and encouraging and equipping people to thrive!

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