Love. Probably the most over used and misunderstood used word in the English language. Personally, I have used the word “love” when talking about my husband and my kids and also the great dinner I had last week, and the book that I just can’t put down! So in the words of Tina Turner, “what’s love got to do with it?”
What is love…?
Is love an emotion, a by-product of a physical attraction, or a learned behavior? Can a person really “fall into” love? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? And most importantly, what does God’s Word teach us about love in marriage? And how can we model that love in our marriages so that our children come to respect real love?
When we look at the word “love” as interpreted in the Greek translations, there are three types of love:
EROS- or romantic love. This is where we get the word, “erotic”. It’s soft, fluffy and what most cheesy love songs are written about. Many people associate true love with this passionate, romantic, somewhat self-centered, intoxicating feeling. It’s probably how most of us begin a relationship. It’s that almost magnetic attraction we have to another person. It’s a wonderful feeling, but it can just as easily wane when whatever initially attracted us to that individual isn’t there any longer. Think of the terms “falling in” and “fall out” of love. Not quite true love, and not necessarily synonymous with the Biblical kind of love. Eros, while widely understood in our society as “love”, is not found in Scripture.
PHILEO- or friendship love. This is where we get the words, “philanthropy”– love of mankind, “philosophy”–love of wisdom. When translated the word, like eros, is about feelings. When we think about phileo we think about companionship and togetherness. Two components that are actually referred to in Scripture. (Genesis 2:18) “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Ephesians 5:31) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” These passages make it clear that couples in marriage need to make time for one another and be close to each other, sharing not only physical closeness but intimacy on a spiritual and psychological level, as well. This is a really important part of married love… but we can’t stop here. God has even a bigger blessing for married couples.
AGAPE- or sacrificial love. Ok, honestly, this sounds pretty unromantic! And let’s face it, society has pretty much summed up what love is all about, and for most of us the idea of “sacrificial” doesn’t necessarily come to mind when we’re busy thinking about cards, candy and roses on Valentine’s Day! But, God thinks so much BIGGER than we do! This word for love is not used until the New Testament, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is the love God has saved for His chosen–us!! He does not love us because he is attracted to us. We are sinners who are so very unattractive! This love isn’t just a passive feeling. This love is an action which He decides to do, or an act of His will.
Some words used to describe agape love are: commitment, giving, and self-sacrifice. Paul gives us a perfect example of how we are to love. And notice these are actions not feelings. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Next week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating love, whether you take the time to do something special for your loved one on February 14 or choose another day to purposely celebrate your love.
For those of us who are married, and who view our commitment to our spouse in a Biblical way, we may want to take the time this coming week to really look deeper into how we “love”. Are we committed for the long haul, like we stated in our vows? Whether we are rich or poor? In good times and in bad? In sickness and health? Will we remain faithful to our spouse, forsaking all others, even abandoning those very private, lustful thoughts we may have of someone else? Will we put our spouse’s needs before ours?
Take time to DO SOMETHING for your spouse, and expect nothing in return. Love, as taught in the New Testament through the Holy Spirit, is an action. Be kind, speak lovingly, and pray daily for that person who you are in a life-time covenant with. Love really is a gift from God!
Lisa Strnad is a weekly contributing writer/blogger to What’s in the Bible? and Jelly Telly. She has been a homeschooling mom of two, who works independently in Christian media in the areas of writing, promotions and marketing. She lives with her husband and children in Nashville,TN. Follow her personal blog posts on www.talkinglikeagirl.blogspot.com