Memphis Belle

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Agape I (notes)


English definition of the word love--- 1) it is a strong affection or attraction to someone (emotion based)

2) A strong liking or interest for something (sport, hobby, or an object)

3) Third, a strong, usually passionate, attraction for someone of the opposite sex.


We’re Commanded by God to Love


The Bible says the most important commandment in Scripture is to love God---then to love mankind, our neighbors---that’s the 10 Commandments (1st 4, love to God, last 6, love to mankind).  Then also we’re to love our enemies.


1st John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love [Strongs # 25, agapao, verb] one another.  For love [agape, noun] is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God”---why---“For God is love [agape].”  So is God a strong affection to others (English definition)?  It doesn’t fit.  Verse 9, 11, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us---that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  And this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins…Beloved, if God so love us, we also ought to love [agapao] one another.”  Point being, We do not know God unless we have agape-love for one another.


The Greek Language Has Three Different Words for Love


Eros: sexual love (not found in the Bible).

Phileo:  brotherly love---involves a positive emotional attraction to another person, family, group, shipmate, platoon mates, nation (patriotism)---all is phileo.  This type of love demonstrates willingness to sacrifice for those others.


But phileo is still exclusive:  The hand-grenade thrown into a foxhole, a man throws himself on it to save his buddies…but he won’t do that for the enemy.  Jesus did that for his enemies.


Eros, phileo, all good…nothing wrong with them.  But John was not using either of those two words in 1st John.


Agape in 1st century Greek was a very nebulous word, very broad, vague, meaning oft debated.  But New Testament writers (apostles) took the word to define God’s love.  So as a Bible word, we must use the Bible to define it.  (Greek dictionaries, thus no good.)


First Trait of Agape:  Agape is Action-based


Agape is always action-based “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”  Sometimes agape is doing the exact opposite of your emotions (going in opposite direction from them).


We Must See Matthew 5 Through the Lens of Agape


Matthew 5 is the 10 Commandments filtered through Agape.  Matthew 5:38, “You have heard that is was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’”  (that’s law, not revenge).  Verse 39, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on the right check, turn the other cheek to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you, do not turn away.”  (But use balance, based on what’s good for the other, i.e. forgiving a car thief whose in that lifestyle, not good, jail’s better for him.)


Verses 43-45,47, “You have heard it said that you shall love your neighbor and hate you enemy.  But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies.  Bless those who curse you.  Do good to those who hate you.  And pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”---why?---“that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven.”---MAIN POINT---“For he makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?---“And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Point being, you’re only showing PHILEO love if you just love those who love you, not AGAPE love!


5 Points of Agape


1. Agape is action based, and started with God:  Romans 5:8, “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  We had no value, only Christ has value.  He put value into us by his death.  Agape is not naturally in us, it’s developed in us by the gift of God’s Holy Spirit within us, coupled to our life experiences.  Agape involves a way of thinking and motives, why you do what you do, and has nothing to do with affection.


2. Agape involves self-sacrifice (but without exclusivity).


3. Agape isn’t contingent on how the other person treats you (Love your enemies), but on what is good for them.


4. Agape is an unselfish outgoing concern for everyone---God so loved the world (1 John 3:16).  Agape looks out for the best interests of the unlovable, it’s action based.


5. Agape is not necessarily an emotion, and usually isn’t.


Problem:  When all our actions toward others are based only on our emotions (eros, phileo), then we tend to ONLY associate with, listen to, and treat well people who think like us.”  (outgoing concern thus goes out the window)


Jesus’ question to Peter


John 21:15-17, “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [agape] me more than these?  And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love [phileo] you.’  He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’  He says to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you agape me?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I phileo you.’  He says to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you phileo me?’”  (Finally, do you love me like a brother?)  “Peter was grieved because he asked him a third time.  He said, ‘You know all things, Lord.  You know I phileo you.”  Jesus asked Peter, ‘Do you agape me?’  Peter’s response was ‘You’re my foxhole buddy, of course I phileo you, I’d jump on that grenade for you.  Jesus was essentially asking Peter ‘Would you jump on that grenade if Caesar were in the foxhole with you?’  Peter’s reply, ‘I’m not there yet, Jesus.’  The great flaw in our Christianity is we have phileo, but we do not have agape.  That’s one of the big problems with the Sabbatarian Churches of God.  How can we give the Gospel to the world when all we have is phileo?


Without Agape, How Does God See Us?


The Corinthian Church of God was a mess beyond imagination, tearing itself apart with schisms and divisions, conflicts…taking each other to court, they had great sexual sins, were getting drunk at Passover (1st Corinthians 1-11).  They also were a church of great gifts, they had tremendous knowledge of prophecy, tongues, healings, you name it.  Paul spends 11 chapters tearing them apart, then in chapter 12 he’s praising their gifts.  Then in chapter 13 he says he’s going to show them a “better way.” 


1st Corinthians 13:1-2, “Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not agape, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal…though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries…though I have all faith that I could remove mountains---if I have not agape I AM NOTHING.  You’re zero!  I am zero at that point.  It’s like if we were to give our kids drums and cymbals and they were to go through the house at 4am in the morning going---Bang, boom, bang, boom bang, boom bang, bang, boom!!!  That’s the way God sees us when we’re not displaying AGAPE.


Agape and the Law


You can know the Ten Commandments, you can keep the Sabbath, you can tithe and not have agape.  Now, conversely, it’s not possible to have agape and disobey the Ten Commandments.  Why?  The 10 Commandments are love toward God and love toward man.  So, if I’m going to have agape, I’ve got to keep the commandments.  But you can keep the letter of the 10 Commandments, and still not have agape.  It is not possible to have agape and steal from your neighbor, or to lie to him, or to commit adultery…that’s not expressing agape.  But it is possible to keep the letter of the law and not have agape.  This is a part of conversion we stay away from, and where we must go.  “…though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not agape, it profits me nothing.”  Atheists have done this for others, yet not had agape.  Muslims have been martyrs for God (in their minds).  Did they have agape?  Agape is pure love, and does not have its source in the loved object…it is wholly motivated from within its own nature…not based on an expectation of anything in return.  Agape is pure outgoing desire to care for another…pure outgoing concern for what is best for the other person---it is pure outgoing concern for the welfare of the ones you don’t like---even the people who mistreat you.


First Character Trait of Agape---Agape Suffers Long---Three Points


1.  First, keep your perspective on God and what he has done for you…the abuse He took for you (on the cross), it’ll change how you view the person you’re having trouble with.  Matthew 5:40-44, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  Use balance, some women stay with an abusive husband whose boozing it up all the time, lying and/or cheating, this is not best for the children in keeping a mate like that around.  Agape demands we do what is best for all.  A car thief, better for him and society if he goes to jail.


2. 2nd motivation for longsuffering:  Keep your perspective on what God is doing in your life as an ambassador for the Kingdom of God.  Just because we “have the right” to defend ourselves, doesn’t make it right all the time.


3.  Keep your perspective that you’re just as human as the next guy.  Cut people some slack, next time it could be you that needs the mercy.


4.  Remember, Longsuffering is God’s way of developing patience within us by the things he’s putting us through or allowing us to go through.  Long-existing ailment, family situation we can’t do anything about.  This is part of the process of kiln-firing our godly faith into godly patience (cf. James 1:2-4; 2nd Peter 1:5-11, there is a whole sermon within this point [maybe sometime later])


Agape is Kind; Agape Doesn’t Envy


Kindness is expressed in actions:  Parable of the Good Samaritan---who is my neighbor?


Luke 10:29-36, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’  [Jesus said to him] “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now, by chance, a certain priest came down that road and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side [priest’s are full of kindly words, now aren’t they].  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”  Verse 33, “But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he was.  He saw him and he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two dinari, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him.  And whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”  Who were the  Samaritans?  They were pagan’s the Assyrians transplanted into the northern territory of Israel.  They were severely looked down upon in Jewish society back then.  Jesus now asks: “‘So which of these do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?’  And the man said, ‘Well, he who showed mercy to him.’”  Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”  Point:  Kindness doesn’t ask ‘Who is my neighbor?  Kindness does---Kindness is actions.


Keeping the Sabbath was first grade.  We’re talking about graduate level work, here folks.  So do you throw out the first grade to do graduate level work?  Of course not!  That’s stupid logic, totally illogical.


Kindness Starts at Home, in Church


Ever hear the saying “Charity begins at home?”  It’s a Biblical statement oft said in the early days of America up until recently.  Agape must start in church…the primary discussion of Romans 12 is relationships inside the church in terms of agape.


Romans 12:9, “Let agape be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.”  Hypocrisy is play-acting.  The first time you do something that’s right, it can feel strange…the first time you keep the Sabbath can feel strange for months…it’s a new experience…not working for twenty-four hours, going to church on Saturday.  That doesn’t make it play-acting.  You’re learning a new behavior.  Play-acting is when you do a behavior for one purpose only---to impress other people.  “Abhor the evil, cling to what is good.”  Basic premise:  hate the evil, but don’t stop there.  Grab onto what is good.  If we hate evil all the time and that’s all we do, we’re the most negative people on the face of the earth.  Hate evil, learn to love good.  Verse 10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another…with brotherly love (phileo)…in honor, giving preference to one another.”  Spend time together…share life together…care about each other…with your actions motivated by what is best for the others.  Verse 11, “Not lacking in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing stedfastly in prayer…” verse 13, “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”  Some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met were some of the poorest people I’ve ever met.  Nitty gritty of agape coming next. Verse 14, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.”  When people mistreat you and persecute you, don’t persecute back…patiently work through problems (which takes us back to longsuffering).  Verse 15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  Empathy, no way we can have agape without empathy.  Empathy is the ability to rejoice with somebody who rejoices and feel bad when somebody is feeling bad…we have to learn empathy if we want to understand agape…You can’t have agape without empathy---because with empathy you understand the other person.  How do you do what is right for the other person without understanding them? 


Verse 16, “Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion.”  If we have a piece of information that we know is right (whether it is or not, we think it is), we tend to tell it to everyone… that’s not always good…not always necessary.  There’s a time when we’re right and it doesn’t matter.  A core concept of agape comes next.  Verse 17, “Repay no evil for evil.  Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  And if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  Always try to do the peaceable thing. 


Verse 19, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.  For it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.  Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him.  If he is thirsty, give him a drink.  For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” There’s a whole sermon in this, and we’ll cover this more under another trait of agape…but when someone hurts us, we want that person to be either punished or brought to repentance (often on our terms, not God’s).  There’s a fine line between justice and vengeance.  We have to give up the emotional need for vengeance.  Mercy is a command in the Old Testament law.  When we’re driven by vengeance, we tend to think it is justice, when it is not.  Why?  We’re being driven by anger.


Kindness of Jesus in action


Jesus healed a leper once where he reached out and touched him first.  He didn’t always do that in healing lepers, but he did with this one.  Nobody touches lepers.  Here was this man whom nobody touched, or had touched in years.  Touching him was a supreme act of kindness, kindness expressed in action.  Jesus touched him while he was still hideous, then he healed him.  Can you just imagine what that meant to that man?


“Agape Envies Not”


Envy and coveting are not the same thing:  Definition of envy in English:  a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages or possessions.  Ill will toward a person, because he has something you think you deserve.  Envy drives us to be able to justify whatever actions we have to take against the other person.   Because envy isn’t just coveting, it is despising the person who has whatever you want…it’s a very scary thing.  James 3:13-15, “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show, by good conduct, that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth…This wisdom does not descend from above, that is earthly, sensual and demonic.  For where envying and self-seeking exists, confusion and every evil thing are there.”  A major symptom of envy is internal confusion.  External confusion…we don’t have any control over…but internal confusion…that’s something different…if so, we must stop and ask yourselves “Is it because I’m suffering from self-seeking?---I want something so much I’m causing confusion?”  the power of envy---feeling like somebody else got something we should get---Proverbs 14:30, “Envy is rottenness to the bones.”


Three ways to fight envy


1. Learn to look at the blessings you get every day from God.  Be happy with what God has given you.


2. Learn to enjoy our temporary physical things for exactly what they are---temporary physical things you have.  We blast through life so fast, we often don’t take the time to enjoy those simple pleasures in life.


3.  Learn to share in the joy of another’s blessings.  Be glad when other’s receive blessings, and then you share in it, and you don’t envy.  Learn to find happiness because someone else received a blessing.


Final thought, about an oft misquoted Scripture.  Paul said that the end of the law is Christ, the telios---the goal, literally.  The goal of the law is Christ.  Christ is the goal.  Jesus explained all the behaviors of the law in His behavior.  So we can’t give up the law.  If we give up the law we won’t understand Christ’s behavior.  You can’t have agape without the law.  But you can have the law without agape.  The Pharisees had the law without agape.  Are you a Pharisee?


Agape II (notes)


Review: You can understand the whole Bible, but without agape, we’re nothing.  The Greek word Agape love doesn’t equal English word for love, the words are not compatible.


Agape:  It’s not about how others treat you---good or bad.  Agape is outgoing concern love for the other no matter what their actions toward you.


Agape suffers long for others, has empathy.  Agape is kind expressed in actions not words.  Agape does not envy, which is emotional ill will toward a person who has something you want.  Next on the list:


IV.  ‘Agape does not parade itself,’ NIV ‘does not boast’


People that boast, parade themselves, always:

          a. have an emotional need to always be the center of attention

          b. must bring back the conversation to self

          c. parade self so others look (women do this a lot)


Herod Agrippa, Acts 12:20-23, “Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.  So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on this throne and gave an oration to them.  And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’  then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”---He was wearing a silver threaded robe, glistening in sunlight---Josephus.  Eaten by worms for 5 days, horrible pain, died.  He set himself up to look supernatural.


Three Things You Can Do To Fight The Need To Boast


1) In speech:  Seek the opinions of others, rather than broadcasting your own (shows interest in others, not self)  GPQ


2) In actions:  Serving the needy.  James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  We can do this with money, but it’s not enough (it says “visit”).  We must take the emotional risk, get personally involved.  Service is about relating and relationships, stepping out on the ledge, and jumping off with the needy.


3) Bearing the burdens of the spiritually weak:  Romans 15:1-2, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [KJV infirmities] of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”  Verses 5-6, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind, and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The spiritually weak don’t always have perfect understanding, we must patiently help them.  vs. 6, agape brings God glory, not self.  If self gets glory, it’s parading self.


V. ‘Agape is not proud, puffed up’  (1st Corinthians 13:4)


How important is this concept?  We have a whole Holy Day season based on not being puffed up.


Pride:  having an overly high opinion of yourself, emotional belief that your opinions, needs, ways are always right (over that of others).


You become so attached to your own opinions that you can’t take them being challenged.  This leads to constant strife in your life.


6 Concepts of Pride:

          1) have to always defend self (when your pride’s wounded).

          2) destroys relationships, what’s right for me, not you.

          3) makes us make emotional, irrational decisions.


2nd Kings 5:1-6a, 9-14.  Naaman almost blew it!  Why?  His pride.

          4) Pride blocks our relationship with God,

James 4:6, “But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”   God doesn’t ignore the proud, he pushes them away.  

          5) Pride motivates us to judge others harshly, without considering                     our own weaknesses.

          6) Pride leads to feeling victimized, leads to anger, depression,       “Wounded pride…”  We have two choices, get rid of the wounded                pride, or do something so your pride isn’t wounded anymore.  Wars          start that way---Pearl Harbor, our national pride was wounded.


3 Points on How to Deal with Pride


1. Look not just on your own interests, but on that of others.  Phil. 2:1-4, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Like-minded doesn’t mean like-opinioned.  Like-minded, having the same love…


2. Fasting for humility:  Isaiah 58:1-11.  Not fasting to get your own way over others, but a fast that leads to you looking to care for somebody in need.  You fill in the blanks…


3. Forgive quickly:  1st Peter 2:18-21, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps…”  Jesus had so many people doing him harm---plenty of people not to forgive…


Love, Agape, cannot flourish where pride and boasting are.


VI. ‘Agape Does Not Behave Rudely’


This is a subject we talk about a lot, lack of common courtesy, rudeness:

                   Boom box blasting away

                   Road rage, obscene gestures, talk


 Rudeness---harsh, offensive behavior, treats others without grace, in a harsh offensive way.


Greek word used for “rude” lit. means “ignorant”---treating people in an  ignorant way that offends and hurts others.


          Luke 17:1-4, “Then he said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.  Take heed to yourselves.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.’”


          Agape flips it around: ‘How can I try not to offend?

          Next question: ‘How do I behave when others treat me rudely?’

        (sometimes it’s impossible not to offend, no matter what, some

          people won’t like you regardless (kids find this out in school). 


Some people will say, ‘Well, I can be awfully blunt at times.’  Be careful, bluntness can and often does cross directly over into rudeness.  How do we avoid that?  One word…




Tact: a delicate perception of the right thing to say or do without offending.  (it’s not twisting the truth or vain flattery, buttering someone up.)


7 Points On How Not To Be Rude


1. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Read ‘Grace under fire, the spirit of tact:  Booker T. Washington’ in the full transcript.


2. Try to understand where the other person is coming from---Empathy.  Paul was all things to all men, a Jew to Jews, a Gentile to Gentiles, totally culturally adaptive (as long as sin was not involved)…to lead others to Christ.


3. When you have to confront someone about an offense, emphasize: ‘We’re not against you---we’re all in this together.’  Read 1st Chronicles 13:1-4, King David included all of Israel in his plans, showing them, ‘We’re all in this together, folks.’  


4. When we have to confront someone about an offense:  Pick the time, place, choice of words very carefully.

          Paul was the master of this, but didn’t once.  Acts 23:1-5, “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’  And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.  Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!  For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?’  And those who stood by said, ‘Do you revile God’s high priest?’  Then Paul said, ‘I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”


5. It’s impossible to not offend those who have enmity against God, but let them be offended by our obedience, not our arrogance.


6. In correcting an offense, praise before you criticize.  Judges 8:1-3, “Now the men of Ephraim said to him, ‘Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?’  And they reprimanded him [Gideon] sharply.  So he said to them, ‘What have I done now in comparison with you?  Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?  God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb.  And what was I able to do in comparison with you?’  Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.”


7. When in confrontation with someone, ask God to help you be humble in your approach.

          Matthew 18 is all about going to someone who has offended you, a

          about dealing with offenses…but the bottom line of the whole

          chapter is “forgive because your Father in heaven has forgiven      



VII.  ‘Agape Does Not Seek It’s Own’ i.e. is not self-seeking’


That doesn’t mean we’re not to take care of our own needs, cf. Matthew 6:25-33.


3 Points To Help Us Not Be Self-Seeking


1. Ask for God’s will in your lives:  At times we know, but often we don’t.  Following God’s will means you’re not following your own.


2. Desire the physical and spiritual betterment of others.  Sound familiar?  All these points on agape are interrelated, intertwined.

          Do we want punishment or repentance of others?


3. We must be willing to cooperate:  Those who are self-centered never want to cooperate---cooperation and self-seeking are opposites.


Agape III (notes)


“Love Is Not Provoked”


Next two qualities in defining what agape really is in 1st Corinthians 13, verse 5…Every problem we have, everything we face is an opportunity to learn one of these qualities, or a multiple number of these qualities. 


1st Corinthians 13:4-5, “Agape suffers long.  It is kind, does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,”---and now,  is not provoked.”


Anger Management


“agape is not provoked.” It says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.”  In other words, it is possible to be angry and not be sinning.  But anger can lead us to sin.  So the question is:  “How can I be angry and sin not?” Anger is a motivation for us as humans, it drives us to do things.  Agape is not provoked, anger does not drive us if we have agape, it can’t be motivating us to do the wrong thing.  You’re not provoked, you’re not driven by anger to do what is wrong when you’re functioning under agape.  Psalm 7:11, “God is a just judge and God is angry with the wicked.”  It is very difficult for us as humans to separate between being angry and being motivated by anger, whereas  God can do this.  Proverbs 29:22, “An angry man stirs up strife,”  We’ve all known angry people. They never have peace.   “and a furious man abounds in transgressions.” is the last part of that verse. James 1:19-20, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.  For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  Human anger does not produce the righteousness of God.


Five Sources of Anger


1. This first point has a part “a” “b” and “c”.  What are some of our sources of anger?  a. any threat to our life.  b. any threat to well-being, and  c. any threat to our self-image.  We will have the same level of anger when our own self-image is threatened as if someone were attacking our very lives. 


2.  A second source of anger is biological disposition.  Some people are wired to experience anger more quickly than others (i.e. red-heads J).


3.  Point number three:  Sometimes anger comes from environmental influences---violent movies, video games, music, rough neighborhood you grew up in, our environment can drive us or our children to be angry.


4. A fourth reason that we become angry at times is repeated negative experiences.  This is something to really consider when raising children.  This is why the apostle Paul says, “Fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger.”  We can treat a child so negatively for such a long period of time that they simply become angry.  That anger sits inside of them and they become angry all the time.  And then, as an adult, they have all kinds of anger problems.  Repeated negative experiences will do that.


5.  Satan will feed us with anger.  This is the fifth source of anger. Ephesians 2:1-3, “And he made you alive, who were dead in trespasses, which once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.  Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and”---WHAT?---“we were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”   Satan is constantly provoked, by God, he’s driven by anger.  Our anger is not sin---it’s what we do with it that counts.  Satan will feed our anger if we hang onto it too long.  He loves it when we stay in an angry state.  When we’re angry all the time, it is absolutely impossible to respond to God’s Holy Spirit. 


three ways that handling anger won’t work


There are three ways of handling anger that will not work.


1.  One is:  uncontrolled ventilation.  Uncontrolled ventilation of anger is destructive.  People kill other people in those moments of totally ventilated anger.  This is called “unpremeditated murder”…


2.  Number two: simply repressing anger, and bottling it up, and pretending that you don’t have it won’t work either.  Anger will drive us to not let someone repent.  Jonah chapter 4, verse 3, “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.  And the LORD said, ‘Is it right for you to be that angry?’”  Repression and bottling up anger leads to a lack of forgiveness and it actually leads to depression.  A lot of depression is anger that has never been worked through.


3.  Point number three:  A third way of handling anger that won’t work is actually to deny you’re angry.  “I’m not angry!”  “What’s wrong honey?”  “Nothing!”  “Uh-huh.”  But denial is a serious issue. 


What is Righteous Anger?


1.  Point number one:  Righteous anger is short-lived.  Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. So our first principle here is understanding that righteous anger is short-lived. 


2.  The second point:  A person experiencing righteous anger never allows himself to cross that line to where they are manipulated by Satan.  Verse 26, “Be angry and sin not.  And do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  And the very next part of the thought is in verse 27, “Nor give place to the devil.”  That can be translated opportunity.”  Don’t give opportunity to Satan, because if you lose it, he’ll be right there.


3.  Number three:  Righteous anger is experienced when there is a moral principle involved.  Part of the problem with us, though, is we’ll get angry, even when there is a moral principle involved, and then we’ll let our self-righteousness drive us instead of righteousness. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.  Who can know it?”  So we deceive ourselves a lot of times in these things. 


4.  Number four:  A person who has a righteous anger gets angry at situations---AND---they’re not angry all the time.  When the situation is taken care of, we let go of the anger.  Be angry at the situation, but not at the person.  It’s hard for us humans to separate the two, where God has no problem doing so.


A couple proverbs that are related to this, Proverbs 11:23, “The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”  Wrathful people go into a situation expecting to be angry.  And guess what?  They’re angry, right? Proverbs 19:19, “ A man of great wrath will suffer punishment.  For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”  Their very anger creates the mess over and over and over again.  So number four is, the person who has righteous anger gets angry at situations, not people. 


5.  Point number five: Righteous anger is used to energize positive actions.  Agape will take our anger and find a way to do something good with it.  Let’s see what Jesus did when he got really angry with a bunch of Pharisees.  Mark 3:1-4, “Jesus entered the synagogue again.  And a man was there with a withered hand.  So they watched him closely, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’  And he said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’  But they kept silent.”  Verse 5, “And when he looked around at them with anger”---Jesus is angry, God in the flesh is angry---“being grieved by the hardness of their hearts,”---“He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  And the man stretched out his hand and was restored as whole as the other.”   His agape motivated him, even though he was very angry with these Pharisees, to do good to this person.  Agape will take our anger and find a way to do something good with it.  We often use our anger to find a way to do something destructive with it.  You have to understand that we have to give ourselves time to decompress from situations before taking actions.  Proverbs 15:18, “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he that is slow to anger delays contention.”  [King James, “appeaseth strife”]  In other words, he is able at times to ratchet down---bring down the conflict. Do not be provoked.  Don’t let others dictate your actions. 


6.  The sixth point:  Righteous anger never generates hatred.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Don’t call your brother worthless.”  Matthew chapter 5, “don’t call him Raca.  Going to your brother because you’re angry is fine.  It’s how you do it.  Getting so angry with a brother in church to say he or she isn’t a Christian, or to even imply that would sort of fit this.  In context with church and brethren, we have to be very careful of this.  Matthew 5:21-22 shows what danger we might get ourselves into with God when we cross such lines.


7.   And the seventh point:  Righteous anger does not produce depression.  When we find ourselves depressed over anger, we’ve crossed a threshold.  We have to step back and say, ‘Get rid of the anger.


how to respond with righteous anger


1.  First of all, recognize that most of the anger we experience is destructive to our emotional and spiritual health and it’s destructive to other people.  Proverbs 27:3, “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fools wrath is heavier than both of them.”  We can’t carry that stuff around.  If you carry the wrath, you’re letting them do something to you, like carrying a stone, you’re letting them do something to you.


2.  Number two:  Discuss your anger with God and ask him to help through his Holy Spirit.  Ask for God’s forgiveness and get back on track.  Go ask for help from his Holy Spirit.


3.  Number three:  When first feeling anger, force yourself to take that step back.  Take a time-out, counting to ten.  Think about that German army three-day rule for filing a grievance.  They were forced to wait three days before they could file a grievance, from the time that they asked for the grievance paperwork.


4.  Number four:  Meditate on what makes you angry and how to handle it better to get positive results.  Is that person “pushing my buttons?” ask yourself.  There are people that push your buttons.


5.  Fifth point, last point:  We have to learn to forgive.  We have to learn to give up our emotional need for that person to receive payback, and turn things over to the justice of God, and hope people repent and receive his mercy.


“Agape Keeps No Records of Wrong” or “Thinks No Evil”


Verse 5 of 1st Corinthians 13, “Agape keeps no records of wrong.”  Dale Carnegie once said, “If I knew what you think I would know who you are”, i.e. our thoughts make us what we are.  Emerson said, “‘A man is what he thinks about all day long.’  How could it possibly be anything else?”  You and I are a composite of what we think about all day long.  That’s what determines our behaviors and attitudes.  In the end, our thoughts determine our emotions. 


Agape Thinks No Evil


“Agape thinks no evil”, verse 5.  The King James says, “thinks no evil.”  This phrase is translated in a number of different ways in English Bibles, “thinks no evil” in the King James, Moffat translates it “love is never glad when others go wrong.”  Probably the most accurate translation when you look up the Greek is in the NIV “love keeps no records of wrong.”  What does this mean, to think no evil or keep no records of wrong? 


Jesus brought sin to the thought level


To understand and apply agape we’re going to have to learn to “think no evil.”  It’s the evil in our minds that is the germ of what we do.  Jesus brought sin to the thought level.  Matthew 5:21, “You have heard that it was said of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.  And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.  But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.’”  Raca just means worthless.  Murder is a product of something that happens in the mind.  1st Corinthians 13 requires that we learn how to think with no evil.  It doesn’t say avoid evil in terms of seeing it.  We see evil all the time.  It is what we think about which counts.  What do we think about every day?  Verses 23, 24 and 25 basically says, ‘If you have a problem with somebody, go fix it as quickly as you can.’---another principle of agape which we saw before, forgive quickly.  Verse 27, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Sin starts here.  It is not a product of the body, it all starts in the head.  So “think no evil.


Are We To Be Remodeled or Torn Down and Totally Rebuilt in God’s Image?


We as new believers think that all we need is a remodeling job from God.  As young believers God starts us out by teaching us about the actions of obedience.  We do that with little children.  Most of the 10 Commandments, given to the “children of Israel,” are action-based commandments.  Jesus Christ in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, brought those same 10 Commandments to the thought-level of obedience.  Initially we learn to put out idols, the physical observance of the Sabbath, not working on Saturday for 24-hours, going to services on that day---we’re changing our actions.  We’re learning to carry out the actions of obedience to the law of God.  Then we go on to the thought-level of obedience as seen in Matthew 5:17-48, on to perfection as verse 48 says.  We don’t need a patched up heart and mind.  God says in Jeremiah 31:31-33, ‘I will give you a new heart and mind.’  This is essentially thought-level and involves being given a new heart and mind.  When we first come into the knowledge of the truth of God, we’re just like little children.  You train children through behavior (action-based).  As they get older, you begin to teach them how to think.


God, the Master Jeweler


God is trying to make us into jewels, gems like diamonds (cf. Malachi 3:16-17).  You have to cut a diamond out of ugly coal which it is embedded in. Genesis 6:5, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was only evil continually.”  The whole imaginations of mankind are evil when society reaches a level of universal evil like this.  Jesus told us that at the end-times, society would reach this level of universal evil, as it had been “in the days of Noah.”  Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”  We don’t realize what a massive reconstruction job this is.  Paul said he was striving to bring every thought of his “into the captivity of Christ” in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6.  Agape is the ability to bring every thought into what God wants us to think. 


Cleanse me of Secret and Presumptuous Sins


Psalm 19:12-14, “Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.  Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgressions.”  David is saying, ‘Cleanse me from secret faults’---all our secret faults have to do with the mind. The thing about presumptuous sin is, you believe you’re right (about something that really is sin).  That’s the whole idea about being presumptuous---‘I believe I’m right, so I can do what I’m doing.’  Presumptuous sins often times are not obvious to us, because we believe we’re right.  Verse 14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.”  David is basically saying, ‘I want you to know what my thoughts are.  Do you ever wish that God didn’t know what your thoughts were sometimes?


Importance of Meditation---Tools For Combating Evil Thinking


But if I choose to think about all the evil in the world, and just meditate on it all the time, I’ll probably become either very angry or very distraught, or I’ll just give up and go become the evil in the world.  This is what agape is all about.  It’s knowing when to give up what is going on in the world, or in your life, the evil you see at work.  Let it go and think about something else.  Philippians chapter 4.  What is it that we must choose to think about?  Philippians 4:4-8, gives us the answer, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I say, ‘Rejoice!’  So the context here is being happy.  “Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing.  In everything, with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  So the peace of God can guard our hearts and minds.  But so many times we’re maintaining a thought process that produces anxiety within our minds.  Paul says, “be anxious for nothing.”  Verse 8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, MEDITATE on these things.”  Take these things and think about these things.  Let the evil go.  There are times to think about the evil, but it shouldn’t be the main course of our mind all the time.  These things have to become the main course of our mind, these things that Paul just talked about.  The key operative words here are of good report. 


How Do We Do This?


Remember, it has to be “of good report.  God wants us to hate evil, but the daily thoughts have to be something else.  Psalm 77, this is a psalm of Asaph, and he’s seeing a lot of evil in his life and all around him.  He shows this in verses 1-10, and he was getting really depressed over these things. Asaph is pretty upset by all that he sees going on around him.  He’s seeing all the negative, and it’s really getting him down.  But in verses 11-20 it almost looks as if Asaph has been able to read the apostle Paul’s advice to the Philippians in Philippians 4:4-8, doesn’t it?  He focuses on the good, those things of good report, whatsoever is good. Read Verses 11-20, And wow, what a change in Asaph’s perspective on life. Let these things of Philippians 4:4-8 come into your mind so it is what you become, so that you become agape. Don’t be overwhelmed with the evil you see around you.  How do we not become overwhelmed with the evil?  Philippians 4:4-8 and Psalm 77:11-20 gave us some clues. How do we not be overwhelmed with the evil around us?  Here are three things that you need to think about, center your thoughts on.


The Art of Godly Meditation


1.  Point one:  You can do this in your prayer-time (Psalm 119 was one of David’s meditative prayers).  Meditate on God and his love, his plan of salvation for mankind, his truth and what that has meant in your life.


2.  Point two:  Meditate on God’s creation.  Asaph did that as seen in verses 16-19 of Psalm 77.  He meditated on the oceans, the weather patterns in the sky, rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning and thunder.  David meditated on the heavens and God’s host of stars in the universe.  Take up a science as a hobby, say astronomy.


3.  Point three:  Find time to think.  Have meditative Bible studies, and not just Bible studies to learn facts.  A lot of people have a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but have no more agape than a pagan.  Psalm 63:6, “When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on you in the night watches, because you have been my help.  Therefore, in the shadows of your wings, I will rejoice.”


Jumping to Conclusions About Others Being Evil


Another aspect about “thinking no evil” is that we tend to jump to conclusions about others being evil, imputing evil motives to others.  We shouldn’t automatically jump to certain conclusions about other people.  Agape looks and says “is this really evilly motivated?  What’s happening here?” Read through Joshua 22:1-6,  Then in verses 10-12, we see that these Reubenites, Gadites and Manassites had built this huge altar on their border with the rest of Israel.  So here, these two and a half tribes built this massive altar on Israel’s side of the Jordan.  Notice it says, “Now the children of Israel heard someone say…  “Psst, hey, you know what I heard, those two tribes are building this massive altar, and are going to start having pagan sacrifices, it’s just got to be true, why else would they do this?”  The Law of God did forbid the building of massive altars, and prescribed that only at the Tabernacle could sacrifices be carried out.  So they’ve just finished killing off the Canaanites in the land, and now they’re about to start a civil war.  Verses 13-19 show all the officials from the rest of Israel show up and accuse these three tribes of practically going into paganism again.  What an accusation, calling them rebels, twice!  And they don’t really have all the facts, as we’ll see.  What a rant, going on and on, telling these people how wrong they are.  Their answer to this baseless and misguided accusation is found in verses 22-24, it wasn’t even an altar, they had built this giant edifice out of fear.  What was their fear?  They give the reason.  They said “In time to come your descendants may say to our descendants, ‘What have you got to do with the LORD God of Israel, you’re not even Israelites!’”  These two and a half tribes received their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan.  They were afraid this natural barrier might be used later on as an excuse by the rest of Israel to say they weren’t even Israelites.  So they built this edifice as a reminder to the rest of Israel about just who they were, Israelites too.  What happens when we always think evil, we can actually see evil when it’s not there.  They even said, ‘Let God judge our motives, since you guys don’t seem to have a clue.’


Agape Keeps No Records of Wrong


The other way that this phrase is translated is “[agape] keeps no records of wrongs.” “Agape keeps no records of wrongs.”  What agape allows is that the past sins don’t interfere with relationships in the present time.  It keeps no record of wrong.  Agape is willing to have relationship when sins are repented of. But I’ve heard some people actually remark, ‘I’ve saved all your emails as evidence.’  And if the other person has been changing, all this “evidence” keeps you in a position of misjudging that person, in the light of their past and not how they are today.  You haven’t allowed (in your own mind) for their spiritual growth.  Agape tells us to dump those emails, dump those records of wrong, and not hang onto them.  Whose their judge anyway?  You or God?


Four Applications of the Phrase “Thinks No Evil”


1.  Replace thoughts of sin, worry and negativism with the truth of God.


2. Never be glad when others go wrong.  Refuse to be just absorbed on the shortcomings and problems of others.


3.  Refuse to impute evil motives (when you don’t know all the facts).  And most of us don’t “know all the facts.”


4.  Agape keeps no records of wrongs.  We’re willing to forgive, because God has forgiven us.



[These notes are based upon the condensed version of Gary Petty’s 8-hour sermon series on Agape.  For more information about obtaining the full-length 8-hour series you can try contacting Gary Petty at:]













In Old English the word “to sin” meant to “to miss the mark,” the Bulls-eye in archery. 


It is obvious to see how the Pharisees, keeping the Letter of the Law, were still “sinning, missing the mark.”


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