The English word love encompasses so many different meanings. This presents a problem for us in using the word to properly express what we are feeling, as well as knowing what love is. How often have you said, “I love you” to a spouse, significant other, or family member and then use the same word to express your love for a food item? The love felt for the person is obviously very different from the love felt for the food item. Or at least I hope so! I am sure that food is very enjoyable, but your love for the person must be deeper emotionally and more committed, even. So, how do we deal with that in our minds and our hearts? How do we separate and properly express these two different levels of love? I think in this case it is helpful to look at another language and use their words. Simply because, I believe that each description of love is correct in its context, but that love should not be the ONLY word to define the different “loves”. Agree or not, I urge you to stay with me and read on. I promise it to be enlightening. Ready? Let’s jump in…
In the Greek language, there are four primary words used for love. These words are, agape, phileo, storge, and eros. Each of these words represents a different level of love. I like the breakout of the words in the Greek language because it is the original language of the New Testament, in which love is spoken of often. I will give brief definitions and examples first and then we will dig in further not only into the words and their meanings, but also into their uses throughout the Bible.
Agape- Unconditional, selfless, neverending, God love
Phileo- Love expressed between friends, a strong connection
Storge- Love expressed between family members, kinship
Eros- Sexual, erotic or passionate love
These definitions align with our definitions for love, don’t they? How much easier would it be if we could truly express our love with a word? Not only that, would our hearts better allow love, on all levels, as a result of our brain better understanding? Chew on that for a bit… and remember, that God is the one who teaches us, gives us understanding and then guides us, as we allow Him. Check out this verse that I just love from the Message Bible. It just hits the nail on the head as far as what I am trying to present to you.
Examine me, GOD , from head to foot, order YOUR battery of tests. Make sure I am fit, inside and out. (Psalm 26:2 MSG)
Never doubt what is inside of you, especially if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you know Him, you know the Father and thus, you know LOVE. You were made in the image of God, who is love, so you were made in love and made to love. Love is the answer to all things, love is the healer, the comforter, the happiness, the joy, love conquers all, love never fails… let’s read part of the famous “love chapter” from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
We will dig into the Greek words more going forward. But first, I want to challenge you in love today. Are you loving fully and loving no matter what? Are you willing to love with everything you have, not expecting anything in return? This is true agape, or “God love” and this is how He loves his children, anyone who has chosen Jesus, His son, whom our Father gave to us because of His great love for us…
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)
*** Bible verses taken from The Message Bible and The New American Standard Bible translations
*** Greek definitions taken from http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/four-kinds-of-love