Hello Friends, you know today as we celebrate Valentines Day, our minds will naturally be on thoughts of love. When thinking of love, people typically associate love with feelings, romance and candlelight dinners. While this is certainly an aspect of love, it is only a small portion of it. Feelings are only one part of what love is all about.
There are many different meanings for the word love. When we look at the Greek, we see that there are several meanings for the word “love” including Eros (erotic); Phileo (affectionate/love between friends); Storge (the bond in family) and Agape (selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love). God tells us what love is in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. Many people focus on the emotional experience of love while others look to lift up or be an encourager. This is the friend who you turn to who always has a positive word or verse of encouragement. Others see love solely in terms of romance. They fall in and out of love as they focus solely on attraction, sexuality, attachment, and instant gratification.
When we look at the New Testament term for love, the dominant expression used is Agape which means to have care or concern for the personal and spiritual parts of life. Jesus taught his disciples this and said “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” At it’s heart, love is a value. Your values are how your run your life and relationships. When you love someone, you desire what is best for them. In other words, love places a high value on the growth, safety, healing, success and betterment of others. Love is other focused and others oriented.
The greatest example of love that we have was given to us by Jesus Christ. His selfless sacrifice was modeled for all of us to see. Here, the creator of the universe humbled himself and came down to earth in human flesh. He was born in a stinky stable, walked, dined and loved on the “lepers” of society whom many people would shun today, and then sacrificed himself on a brutal cross of death so that you and I could have communication and eternal life with our heavenly father. Amazing! That’s some kind of love, don’t you think? This transcends much more than just a fleeting feeling.
When I think of the love that Christ has for me, and then I see or hear of families torn apart by foolish feuds, I wonder if they really ever knew what true love meant. Oftentimes the feuds boil down to wounded pride which is the antithesis of love. To love means to sacrifice. It means to care so deeply for the other that you desire what is best for them and make choices that are in their best interest. This is what Christ commands us to do – to love one another as I have loved you.
Love cannot be experienced outside of spiritual growth, so in order for you to give love, you first need to receive it and experience it. The reality is this: love is an interpersonal and relational process. We learn to love through our family, friendships, small groups and acts of service. As you grow in your walk with the Lord, you will find that your capacity to be a passionate, concerned, connected and deeply caring person will also grow and expand your heart. Your ability to have closeness while also being firmly rooted and grounded in reality and truth will grow to deeper levels of richness, intimacy, and depth.
May we all grow to love like Christ has loved us.
Happy Valentines Day!
Dr. Christy 🙂