Want to the capture the attention of an unbeliever and be winsome toward them? Practice something they have rarely experienced. It is captured in that four-letter word – love.
The love I am speaking of, though, is not human-produced but supernatural. It comes as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us as believers.
Galatians 5:22 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love...” The word for love here is agape. It is important to define what that means, especially when we are living in a day where love stands for everything from Hollywood to heaven.
Here’s the way I’ve heard it put best: an unconditional love that puts the other person first, even if it means a personal sacrifice.
That definition alone explains why it is something unbelievers have rarely seen. The love they have experienced says, “I love you if…” Agape love says, “I love you period!”
The love they have experienced sends the message, “I am first and you are second.” This love sends the message, “You are first and I am second.”
Notice, though, it involves an act of the will. God does not force this kind of love upon us. He simply promises to produce it within us as we live our lives in dependence on Him.
What are some practical ways we can examine how much we have this agape love? Here are a few.
- If your neighbor has a practical need, are you willing to help? Even if it involves a considerable expenditure of time and energy on your part? Examples could include helping mend a broken fence, pave a driveway, or mow their lawn while they are on vacation.
- Consider inviting non-Christian relatives or friends to some of your extracurricular activities, even though your Christian friends might be more enjoyable to be around. Ideas could include sponsoring a super bowl party, celebrating a holiday, including them on a picnic, or having a fish fry.
- Suppose a non-Christian is suffering a hardship such as a child developing relationships with the wrong kind of friends, receiving word of a relative just diagnosed with cancer, or the difficulties that come with being laid off work. Are you the kind of person to do everything you possibly can to physically help and encourage?
Ask God to help you manifest the fruit of the Spirit—love. That same Holy Spirit that gave you a love for them may work in their lives to introduce them to the love of Christ.