Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to discuss ‘that crazy little thing called love”. God and Love are inseparable. 1Joh. 4:8 states that “God is love”. To know and understand the one is to know and understand the other. But how little, it seems, do we truly understand either – perhaps, especially, the ‘love’ part.
I think if we were to conduct a survey on what people think ‘love’ means, we would get a wide variety of answers (especially comparing the answers of gals to guys). Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who could not tell you what love means because they have never experienced it for themselves. And then there are those who mistake desire, attraction, and even lust as love.
So what is this thing we call ‘love’? Did you know that there is not just one definition of love? The Bible mentions at least 4 types of love. (and we thought that one was confusing enough!)
One type of love in the Bible can be defined by the Greek word ‘eros’, which describes the physical, sensual love , Biblically speaking, between a husband and his wife. Although the word ‘eros’ does not appear in the Bible, we can see this type of love described in the Song of Solomon.
Son 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Son 4:10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
While it is possible to have this type of love for someone, God meant it to be between a man and a woman who are husband and wife. And He meant it to be just one part of the whole package of love. A relationship based on sexual attraction alone is not what God wants for a healthy marriage. When the sags, and the bags and the wrinkles and the grey hair comes along (and it will) there must be something more lasting than physical attraction.
Family Love (natural bonding)
Another type of love in the Bible comes from the Greek word ‘storge’ and refers to the natural bonding that occurs between a parent and their child and between family members.
Paul uses the negative form of the word in Romans and 2 Timothy when he describes what happens to mankind when man turns away from God.
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
In contrast, Paul uses a positive form of the word in Romans to describe how we should behave towards one another.
Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Affectionate Love (feeling)
“Brotherly love’ is another form of love. Many of us know that the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also called ‘the city of brotherly love’. Philadelphia is a city mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;…
The name of Philadelphia comes from the Greek root word ‘philia’ which describes warm-hearted affection and friendship; a relationship based on brotherly love and kindness. While ‘storge’ love is a natural bonding, ‘philia’ love is based more on ‘feelings’. I don’t know about you but in my own life I have met people towards whom I have taken an instant liking. Then there have been those people who have made my skin crawl and my teeth ache from gritting them so hard. You know, the kind of people who make you feel like you would rather endure a toothache than spend another moment with them.
I do not believe that God expects us to have this kind of love towards everyone. This type of love is based on feelings and there are many people with whom we just don’t ‘click’. However, when I read the scriptures where this type of love is mentioned, it seems that we, as Christians, are supposed to show this type of love towards other Christians. After all, we are all of the ‘family of God’ and as such are all ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ so it is only right that we treat one another with ‘brotherly love’.
Rom 12:9, 10 Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good; in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honor.
1Th 4:9 But regarding brotherly love, you do not need that I write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Let brotherly love continue.
2Pe 1:5-7 So, for this very cause, take every care; joining virtue to faith, and knowledge to virtue, And self-control to knowledge, and a quiet mind to self-control, and fear of God to a quiet mind, And love of the brothers to fear of God, and to love of the brothers, love itself. (BBE)
I have saved the most important, and possibly the most challenging, type of love for last.
Love of Choice (moral or spiritual sense)
This type of love in the New Testament is the Greek word ‘agape’. ‘Agape’ love can be described as being benevolent and affectionate. It’s root comes from the Greek word ‘agapao’ which means to love in a moral sense. Putting the two ideas together, it is the type of love in which you choose to show benevolence and affection towards another person, whether you feel like it or not or whether that person deserves it or not. It is not a love that is based on attraction, connection or feeling. It is a love based on choice. Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the kind of love that God has towards us. It is the kind of love that God has for us, even when we are sinners and don’t deserve His love.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God chose, and continues to choose, to love mankind – sinful mankind – even though, as sinners, we do not deserve His love. And in God’s great love for sinful mankind, He was willing to send His only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Agape love is the love Jesus showed towards all sinners by willingly taking the punishment of death that we, as sinners, deserved.
1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the form of love that we, as Christians, are commanded to show to the unsaved world and to each other.
Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Let us work hard at choosing to love others.