In Jesus’ day, three Greek words were used to express “love”—eros (physical intimacy), philia (friendship), and agape (fruit produced by the Holy Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23). Our heavenly Father cares for us with agape love, and to bring us into a right relationship with Him, He sacrificed His Son (1 John 4:10).
The parable of the prodigal son gives us a good example of this type of love. Agape is evident in our life when we:
Respond calmly to difficulties. To the son’s untimely demand for his share of the inheritance, the father didn’t reply with angry words about ungrateful children. Though the prodigal’s attitude must have caused pain, the man held his tongue and did not retaliate. In calmness, he could think more clearly and chose to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Sacrifice without complaint. Though he knew his son was committed to a ruinous course, the father quietly fulfilled the request. In doing so, he chose the way of love, directing his efforts towards preserving their relationship.
Wait patiently. Out of deep affection, the father let his son leave and stay away. What heartache the man must have felt! Yet he remained hopeful and waited for the young man to recognize that sin cannot deliver what it has promised. This patient response is possible only through the power of agape love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
The Holy Spirit’s work in our life empowers us to show selfless and sacrificial devotion to the development of another person. In that way, we become people who respond calmly, patiently, and without complaint. Which kind of emotion do you offer to others—human or divine?