Today we’ll be looking at a crazy little thing called love. Well, it’s not really crazy…nothing could be more sane.. There’s many types of love.
Our focus is not, well, on erotic love as in making love… and not affectionate love as in friendship… and not really kinship as in love that’s connected to family and relatives… Today we will look at Agape love and how it can be a cure for a horrible epidemic that has been sweeping the globe for a long time. It’s like a disease that cripples peoples lives and makes them un-useful in God’s kingdom and his work. It’s an outbreak of an epidemic called depression.
So let’s begin looking at the cure. Agape love is the highest form of love. It is the type of love God has toward us when he gave his only Son to be paid the wages of our sin. Agape love within our life should come along side of the other types of love I mentioned strengthening the bond between friends as they walk through life together… improving the relationship of a man and wife in marriage and fortifying families making them more resilient.
Some of us may have been brought up by loving families; some maybe not. You may have parents who severely beat or even abused you… Friends sometimes use and abuse us also…
Whatever it was for you in your life, even with the best scenario no one has ever loved you perfectly. No human has ever shown us a perfect example of love. We are all broken sinners… that is, except one. Jesus, God’s only Son.
We’re going to read 1st Corinthians 13 and then make a connection to the topic of depression and see how love can help in a world where depression wants to rule the day.
Love Must Drive The Vehicle
1st Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is Hard and Impossible Without Christ
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 t does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Supremacy Of Agape Love
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When we Won’t Need Vehicles
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I was thinking about how it seems that one of satan’s major goals for believers is to keep us depressed. Today I want to talk about a cure for one kind of depression.
You might think depression is not the worst problem someone might face in this world but consider how it’s side effects connect us to many other problems that hinder us.
Stroke, heart attacks, insomnia, weight gain, weight loss, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, daytime fatigue, drug and alcohol use, thoughts of suicide, self pity… depression hinders good relationships. There can be physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain.
Generally speaking, depressed men may exhibit more anger, frustration, and violent behavior while woman may be sad or anxious, with more crying or thoughts of suicide than men. (These are not solid rules that govern the genders but general observations over the wide spread.)
Both sexes may have feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and pessimism., decreased energy, fatigue, difficulty making decisions, loosing interest in things they use to care about, even their purpose in life.
Many great heroes of the faith battled depression through their life. In think that in not giving up but battling it with perseverance they were made closer to Christ. Charles Haddon Spurgeon the great preacher battled depression... he even preached about it and it was a great encouragement to others who battled the same.
Of course, hormones can play a big role in depression in both sexes and it may be a physical imbalance not brought on by reason or circumstances. Sturgeon himself did not know why depression at times seized him.
However, in today’s world, a high percentage of depression cases are sparked by a catalyst.
What ignites the spark that leads to you being depressed?
Do your inefficiencies goad you toward depression?
Fear your spouse will quit loving you...
Because of looks or personality or whatever…
Fear your children will fall away...
Fear you will not be respected or looked to as your opinion being significant. Your words don’t hold any weight…
Fear you will loose your health...
Fear you will not get anything productive accomplished today...
Not accomplishing your purpose in life...
Fear there is nothing special about you...
Maybe you think you have few or no talents in life. What about Spiritual gifts? Do you feel you don’t have any or don’t know what they are or you do but they don’t seem very strong?
Ok, how can having Agape love for others help ward off depression?
If you think about it, I believe with the exception of hormonal imbalance, all the types of depression we mentioned can be side effects of loving ourselves first and foremost.
Let's look a little closer at the perspective Paul gives us about Agape love. Paul seems to present contrast’s of Agape love up against religious structure and practices as well as worldly instruments… I think of them as vehicles that can carry love but also other things like pride and self-righteousness. All theses worldly and religious vehicles could be carrying the grace of God to others… but if love is not driving the vehicle they mean nothing.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Where do we get our confidence for daily life?
Is it in our ability to speak well or give good counsel? (Some get a power fix from that) Is it in our ability to teach or pray spiritual sounding prayers?
Solomon, a missionary friend in India speaks lots of languages. That’s the tongues of men. He could use his abilities for his own gain or for sharing the glory of God with Agape love.
In this verse Paul seems to give an all-encompassing example; If I speak the tongues of men and even the tongues of angels so he covers the full spectrum of possibilities. Without love it is meaningless. Also, he may have been alluding to the gift of speaking in tongues. Some elevate themselves with this gift. Once I had a man come to me and say I was likely not a Christian if I did not speak in tongues. That is a false statement. Tongues are for pointing to the love of Christ and not for making ourselves look spiritual. (see 1st Corinthians 14) Pointing to one’s self… elevating ourselves… is self worship… defending and protecting worrying about the way the world views us is a catalyst to depression.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
Who’s the smartest person you know? A friend… teacher… Mom or Dad? Many of us seem to think we’re the smartest and some will even admit it…
An internet search brought up people like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Michelangelo… even Hitler and Stephen Hawking.
Without love, the ability to understand all mysteries and knowledge is just a vehicle carrying the side effects of our brokenness to the world.
So don’t put your confidence or self boasting in education… Maybe you have a masters degree in business or a degree from a theological seminary. (Some are proud because of their schooling)
2 …and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Pride in self is sometimes confused with faith. Do you pride yourself that you are a go-getter… you have confidence in your abilities… you have faith in yourself to get the job done? You know one can even take pride in themselves for having faith in God. To me that seems like an oxymoron or contradictory in itself.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Do you take pride in being a giver. Do you think that gives you an edge with the people you know or makes God accept you more than he might others? If giving is your strong point but you give for the wrong reasons it could become your downfall not only spiritually but physically and be an overcoming source of depression…
* Note: Pride also shows itself in withdrawal. When it’s all about ourselves we withdraw and are not in a position to show Agape love to others. We withdraw for many reasons and many include pride because we fear being seen as a failure. Depression is likely to overcome us when we withdraw in self centered pride.
It could be a thousand different things. Here Paul seems to be using a religious reference for the Corinthians. But he is telling us how Agape Love is greater than anything we can do, any title we could ever have, any words we could speak, any gift we could give, better than being rich, smart or being a great leader that could move mountains… Without love it’s rubbish.
All those things… all money, knowledge and worldly abilities will turn back into dust.
The ability to love as Jesus did has eternal consequences. It is superior to all those things we mentioned. It is not dependent on talents, the ability to sing or play an instrument…
What if you’re home-bound or stuck in a Nursing Home? Great News!!! You don’t have to be depressed and feel like you can’t make a difference because none of that matters. If you’ve received the love of Jesus you can love others and that is what makes a difference in the world.
Do you fear being weak?
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You don’t have to continue to be blue because our mind doesn’t process things as fast as they used to or our hearing and eyesight are dimming… Maybe you can’t get up out of the chair or walk like you used to…. None of that matters. If you’ve received the love of Jesus you can love others and that’s what will last into eternity.
Loving others is better than being able to walk or hear or think fast. The kind of love Paul is talking about is godly love… it is a humble servant love…
Paul explains Agape love in 1st Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
Can you see how impossible it would be for someone who had not realized Gods love to love like this? Not to be irritable or resentful, not to envy or brag on self… not arrogant or rude… not insisting on it’s own way… That kind of love does not come standard; it is not built in to our heart when we are born. Something has to happen…
Again, Agape love is the kind of love God had when he sent his only Son to be paid the wages of our sins and then on the third day defeat death.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
We can’t truly show that kind of love to others unless we have accepted the love of God that comes through his Son Jesus. What is impossible for the world is good news for Believers.
If you’ve received the love of Jesus you can love others… you can forgive, you can love and not insist on getting your own way.
You may say “but you don’t know my situation! I’m stuck in this relationship or horrible job or I have this disease or a thousand other effects of a broken world. How can God use me for his purposes? Love conquers all.
You don’t need to be depressed. If you’ve received the love of Jesus you can love others and that is what makes a difference in the world.
The time will come when we all will meet the Lord face to face and any talent we used… any words we spoke… any deed we did that was not motivated by godly Agape love will be burned up and the ashes will blow away into nothingness. If your life showed godly Agape love it will be an indication that we were motivated by the righteousness of Jesus working out through our life.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.