Education for Agape Love and Forgiveness

Learn about Agape Love & Forgiveness

What is Agape Love?

Agape is an ancient Greek word that means serving others for those others’ sake. Agape Love is not dependent on the type of relationship, such as:

  • Storge: Mutual love among family members.
  • Eros: Mutual love between romantic partners.
  • Philia: Mutual love among friends.

What are the features of Agape Love?

Leading modern philosopher on the topic of agape love is Gene Outka who identifies three features:

  1. Equal regard for all persons regardless of certain personal characteristics (attractiveness, wealth, and so forth)
  2. Self-sacrifice in that the ones who give of their own resources (such as time, energy, and even material goods) to meet the needs of others.
  3. Concern for the other without necessarily expecting reciprocity.
Mutual love among family members.
Mutual love between romantic partners.
Mutual love among friends
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Agape is a more challenging form of love because it need not be mutual and can involve struggle and pain on behalf of the one who gives agape.

As an example, if you spend a day lifting boxes of food to assist those without homes and you are tired from a hard day, but you persevere nonetheless because those in line need your help, then you are showing agape love.

What Agape Love is Not

It is not compassion.

  1. You can have compassion without taking an action.
  2. It is more costly in that the one offering it is willing to suffer for the good of others.
  3. Agape is focused on particular persons (not on humanity in some abstract or general

It is not altruism.

 Altruism does not necessarily involve effort and pain for the good of the other. For example, when a millionaire gives $100 to the homeless, this act is not self-sacrificial  because it does not cost them anything.

It is not kindness.

Kindness is an action that removes suffering from others. Agape, on the other hand, acknowledges that sometimes people grow in their suffering. Thus, those who exhibit agape love as a gift to another will not necessarily take away the other’s suffering if it is seen as necessary, at least temporarily, for that person’s growth as a person.

Your forgiving others now may put love in your heart which can be given to your children, who may give it to their children, who may give it to their children. The love you give now can still be alive and well on this earth long after you are gone.

What is Forgiveness ?

Forgiveness is an expression of agape love as mercy toward a person who has been unfair to you.

Forgiveness can be defined as the offended person’s response of giving up resentment toward
an offender while fostering the undeserved qualities of beneficence and compassion toward the offender. In the context of the definition above, the result of forgiveness is the transformation of negative thinking, actions (e.g., revenge), and feelings (e.g., anger and
resentment) into positive thinking, actions (e.g., helping), and feelings (e.g., compassion)
towards an undeserving offender.

The 5 Key Concepts

Inherent Worth
Agape Love

What Forgiveness is Not

It is not reconciliation.

You do not need to maintain a relationship with the person who offends you especially if that relationship is unhealthy.

It is not giving up justice.

You can forgive and seek justice at the same time.

It is not weakness.

It is the opposite of weakness! Bearing the pain after an offense and committing to forgive an
individual who gave up their right to your compassion requires bravery and strength.

You can't fake it

Faking forgiveness, even for convenience allows for you to retain condescension and hostility toward the person who offended you, and is not true forgiveness.

To learn more about what forgiveness is and how to measure forgiveness, visit the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc.