In the interest of fair play (and to correct a mistake I made in my last post for the “followers” of my blog), let’s look at the definition of “love” at Dictionary.com. Also, let’s try to match each definition with one of the three words used in the Greek language for “LOVE”: “EROS” (a kind of self-love or romantic love), PHILEA (a friendship-type of love) and AGAPE (an extravagant, unconditional, self-sacrificing kind of love):
* a profoundly tender, passionate for another person [EROS and AGAPE if God is involved].
* a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend [PHILEA, and AGAPE when godly self-sacrifice is involved].
* sexual passion or desire [EROS, and AGAPE if God is in charge].
* used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like: “Would you like to see a movie, love?” [PHILEA, and AGAPE when God is in charge].
LOVE (verb with object), loved, loving:
* to have love or affection for: “All her pupils love her” [PHILEA].
* to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person) [EROS, and AGAPE when God is the center of the relationship].
* to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music [or baseball] [“enjoy” or “appreciate” are better words to use].
* to need or require; benefit greatly from: “Plants love sunlight.” [“need“ would be a better word to use – I know some people talk to their plants, but when was the last time they said, “I love you.”?].
* to embrace or kiss ( someone), as a “lover” [EROS and, AGAPE when God is in the center of the relationship].
LOVE (verb without object), loved, loving:
* to have love or affection for another person; be in love [EROS, and AGAPE if this is God’s will for you].
(You may do the next grouping, if you wish.)
* out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
* without compensation: gratuitously: “He took care of the poor for love.”
“for the love of”
* in consideration of; for the sake of: “For the love of mercy, stop that noise.”
* infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: “He is always in love.”
“in love with”
*feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); “in love with the girl next door” or “in love with one’s work.”
* to embrace and kiss as lovers
* to engage in sexual activity.
In all these definitions of love, the key is to “love one another” as Jesus loves us – with an awe-inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-like, extravagant love which puts the other person’s needs ahead of our own desires. God made us to have a relationship with Him and with each other. God blesses romantic love that is in a committed relationship called marriage. With Jesus holding the marriage together, with both husband and wife submitting to Christ, their marriage will not be easily shaken, even when the physical attraction is no more, either because of a sickness or disability or whatever else life throws at them. Ecclesiastes 4:12b says, “A cord with three strands is not easily broken.” Jesus is that strong third strand.
God also gives us our families and our church families to love with a brotherly/sisterly love; the kind of love that always puts the other person first. While human love is based mostly on feelings, AGAPE LOVE is not based on temporal feelings, but is unconditional and everlasting. God teaches us how to love one another by how He loves us. Psalm 136:1-3 teaches us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. Gives thanks to the God of gods. HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. Give thanks to the LORD of lords: HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.” Each of the twenty-six verses in Psalm 136 ends with, “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.” The Apostle John teaches us about God’s love and our love in this way:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for [agape] love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us His SPIRIT…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (I John 4:7-13, 16b, 18-21).
So, what does loving our brother or sister in the Lord with this awe-inspiring, Spirit-empowered, Christ-like, Extravagant love look like? We will explore this question next time.
May the Love of God Rule in Our Hearts!