This month, Christians all over the world will especially celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on a holiday we call Easter. Every day of the year, however, believers understand at various levels that God’s great plan of redemption, including Christ’s resurrection, was a manifestation of the greatest love ever bestowed upon mankind.
The Heavenly Father sent Christ to the earth, sentenced Him to die a gruesome death at the Cross, and raised Him from the dead on behalf of every one of us — to reconcile us to Himself and spare us the fate of spending all of eternity without Him. That great act represents the highest level of love that could ever be demonstrated toward another. Although it is a sad fact that not everyone will demonstrate love to God in return, God gave this Gift of love nevertheless.
That’s what I want to talk to you about today — “high-level love.”
Imagine yourself loving others so purely that it becomes impossible for you to feel hurt or let down by the response of the recipients of your love — or the lack of response? In other words, you don’t love them to get something in return; you shower them with love simply because you love them.
Can you imagine loving with such a pure love that you expect nothing in return? That love is entirely possible, because it’s God’s love, and this God-kind of love has been “shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit” as a believer (see Romans 5:5). This is why I call it “high-level love.” It is a love that loves simply and purely with no strings attached.
In Colossians 3:14, God instructs us through the apostle Paul, “…Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” The phrase “put on” is a translation of the Greek word enduo, a common term that was used in New Testament times to denote the act of putting on a garment or a piece of clothing.
Although clothing styles have changed innumerable times over the millennia, the process of putting on your garments has always been the same. If you’re going to dress yourself properly, you’re going to have to deliberately put clothes onto your body. In other words, your clothes won’t jump out of the closet and onto your body without help! All things being equal, if you are going to wear them, you are going to have to put them on!
In the same way, Paul says we are to “put on love.” This word for “love” is the Greek word agape — a complex term that I call high-level love because there is no higher, finer, or more excellent love than agape love. This kind of love occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, and appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation.
When agape is in force, such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible. If necessary, agape love will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. Thus, agape is the highest form of love — a self-sacrificial type of love that moves one to action.
In First John 3:16, we are urged to possess agape for each other as believers. It says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This plainly means that we are to love and appreciate each other just as fully and freely as God loves us.
The Father loved us to the point of self-sacrifice. In the same way, we are to agape our brothers and sisters to such an extent that we would be willing to lay down our desires or interests for them — or to freely forgive them for wrongs we perceive they have committed against us. We are to love others with no strings attached.
You may ask, “But how can I possess such love? Is it really possible for me to exhibit that kind of love for other people, including those who have offended or hurt me?”
Because the seed of God’s Word has been sown into your own human spirit, this divine love is within you all the time. You already possess it! If you will let the Spirit of God release this high-level love from your heart, you will begin to experience the fruit of the Spirit called agape as it swells up from deep within. And as you allow God’s love to flow out of your life to others, it will transform your character to become more like Jesus Christ.
But this kind of love is something you have to “put on” if you’re going to experience it. This love is always inside you — but it’s like clothing hanging in a closet. The clothes are yours, but you have to walk to the closet, open the door, take the clothes off the hanger, slip your arms through the sleeves, and begin to push the buttons through the buttonholes! You never get dressed by accident. It’s always a result of your decision and action.
Likewise, God has placed this amazing love inside you — in your “heart-closet,” so to speak. But you are the only one with the power to open the doors to that place where it is kept, take it off the hanger, so to speak, and put it on. Furthermore, when you are tempted out of anger or disappointment to take that love off and put it back in the closest, remember that you alone can decide whether to adorn yourself in this agape love of God.
So open your heart, reach inside, pull it out, and be determined to get dressed and stay dressed in the agape love of God!
In fact, God commands each one of us to do it!
God is love. In fact, it is the very essence of who He is. And just as Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father’s love (see John 15:9), so are we called to be a reflection of Jesus’ love. First John 4:17 declares, “…As he is, so are we in this world”!
I encourage you today to refuse to let anger, frustration, and intolerance rule you — and to take this command of God very seriously. Now that you know this type of divine love is inside you, you can deliberately — on purpose — open the doors to your “heart-closet” to take it out, put it on, and keep it on! This will enable you to walk in high-level love, regardless of the situation you find yourself in.
How can Denise and I and our team pray for you this month? We count it as one of our highest joys to join our hearts with yours in prayer for the manifestation of your God-given dreams and desires. We’re also so deeply grateful for your prayers for us and for your financial support as we fulfill our divine assignment. The belief you have in us as we obey God strengthens and encourages us more than you know.
We truly love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families