Real love…. What does that mean to you? When you picture what true love looks like, what comes to mind? Everyone has different experiences with love and various examples of love, and for me, when I think of real love, I think of my amazing parents. Is their marriage perfect? No. Is it the perfect example of love? No. Do they know exactly how to love on another to the fullest capacity? Not exactly. But, their love for one another is action, it is intentional, and it is real. As much as I want to believe that their marriage and relationship is what love truly is, I also know that I have been given the perfect image of love and the exact definition of love… that is Jesus Christ.
Now there are many types of love and I would like to touch on the truest and purest form of love that God has given us. Each variation of love derives from Greek words used throughout scripture, and I will briefly touch on three of them, and then focus on the real, real love. I can absolutely take time to write separate blog posts about each, and may even do a four part series, but for now, I will put the main focus on one: Agape.
Storge (στοργή) ~ Affectionate love. This love is the kind of love between family or fellowship. It is usually instinctual or natural, and it is a very strong bond. You will often experience “storge” love between parents and children, and within the body of Christ. It is a love that has a strong foundation and is often times the “unbreakable bond” you feel between family.
Philia (φιλία) ~ Friendship/Brotherly love. When you experience a love for a close friend, this is the type of love used in that scenario. This form of love is rich and plentiful, and there are many examples of it throughout the bible. Jesus felt this towards His disciples, a close brotherly love. Best friends often display an affectionate and generous love and is rarely ever felt towards someone we don’t get along with. It is shared between like-minded people who find an overwhelming sense of joy in each others company and fellowship.
Eros (ɛrɒs) ~ Passionate/Intimate love. Found between a man and woman, often in marriage, it is a sexual desire or urge for an intimate display of love. This does not mean Eros is impure or sinful by any means. It often is one of the quickest ways for most people to find themselves in sin but that is not what God intended this form of love to be. There is an entire book in the bible dedicated to the blessings of sexual, or erotic, love which is Song of Solomon. The love between a husband and wife should be an erotic love, among other things. But something to know is that a relationship cannot survive on eros love alone.
Agape (ἀγάπη) ~ Sacrificial, divine love. This form of love is divinely inspired by the Lord and can only be given through the Holy Spirit. It is faithful, it is selfless, it is sacrificial. Agape puts others first, sacrificing pride and self-interest for the benefit of the other person. And what is the most beautiful thing about this love, is that Christ has this love for us, which is what prompted His willing sacrifice to take away our sins.
In regards to Agape, which is the main focus of this blog, I researched multiple verse throughout the Word and almost every verse that I saw dealt with agape love. 1 John 4:7 says “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” The Greek translation of love is agape in this verse. Going back into 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Jesus is the perfect example of love; real love. Love is an action, and it needs to not be solely a feeling, but an intentional commitment that takes sacrifice and selflessness. This is what the focus of the blog is today, what love really is and should look like. And the Lord has given us multiple examples of what real love needs to be.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 “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. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The word love used in these verses translates to agape: selfless love, divine love, Godly love. As believers and followers of Christ, we are called to show love like this to everyone. That does not mean to be tolerant of sin, but to still love the sinner, because in reality, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Not one of us can stand before another and say that we are better because we sin differently. That is not love, and that does not glorify the Lord.
Why am I talking about love this week? Because Valentines day is right around the corner and I believe that it is vital for the church to understand what real love is. It is not just a feeling, but it is the action. 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” If Jesus merely felt love toward us, it would not have meant what it does now. It would have been irrelevant and would not have changed anything. But since He loved us so deeply, with agape love, He acted upon His love and willingly gave up His life so that we may have life eternally. What a beautiful gift that we have been given. And we have this as an example of not only how truly loved we are, but how we are to love others as well.
I pray that this blog was not only informative, but that the Lord is using it to help you all understand what real love is. I will be looking out for comments about whether you all want to see a four part series strictly devoted to love and the 4 types of love described in this post. I would love to hear what you have to say. Thank you all for taking the time to read this! With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I am sure that most of you will be celebrating it with your loved ones. I challenge you today to allow the focus of Valentine’s Day to be solely on agape love and how blessed we are to have a Lord who loves us unconditionally, sacrificially, and perfectly. Have a wonderful day everyone, and God bless!