(2Samuel 20:9,10; Psalms 55:21; Proverbs 26:25; Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 26:49; John 12:6; 2Corinthians 6:6; 8:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 1:5; James 2:15,16; 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8; 1John 3:18-20 )
Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them (TLB)
Don’t let love be a mere outward show. (JNT).
Let love be genuine (GWT).
Don’t just pretend that you love others. (NLT)
It is not surprising that Greek literature throws little light on its distinctive NT meaning. Biblical agape love is the love of choice, the love of serving with humility, the highest kind of love, the noblest kind of devotion, the love of the will (intentional, a conscious choice) and not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. Agape is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation.
Agape love does not depend on the world’s criteria for love, such as attractiveness, emotions, or sentimentality. Believers can easily fall into the trap of blindly following the world’s demand that a lover feel positive toward the beloved. This is not agape love, but is a love based on impulse. Impulsive love characterizes the spouse who announces to the other spouse that they are planning to divorce their mate. Why? They reason “I can’t help it. I fell in love with another person!” Christians must understand that this type of impulsive love is completely contrary to God’s decisive love, which is decisive because He is in control and has a purpose in mind. There are many reasons a proper understanding of the truth of God's word (and of the world's lie) is critical and one of the foremost is Jesus' declaration that "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another." (John 13:35).
Agape is God-like love motivated and energized by God (Romans 5:5, Gal 5:22) and which loves regardless of the circumstances, a deliberate love that decides (enabled by the Spirit and grace) it will keep loving even if it is rebuffed and a love that centers on the needs and welfare of the one loved and will pay whatever personal price is necessary to meet those needs and foster that welfare. We are challenged to live out this highest form of love and to do so with the highest sincerity. How could this be possible except that it be a supernatural endowment?
Our love is to be genuine, not counterfeit. Don't pat another believer on the back and say something that you don't mean. What does this non-hypocritical love look like? Counter to what many seem to believe, it is not "soft" on evil. In context agape abhors evil and clings to good. The mark of love is to hate evil and to hold fast to what is good.