We looked at Faith, Hope and Trust, now let’s look at love. I Cor. 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
So, what exactly is love?
When I asked around, here are some answers I got:
- Whatever gives us pleasure or delight
- Intense feeling or deep affection
- Opposite of hate
No wonder we throw around phrases like, “I love pizza,” I love the movie” and “I love God” in the same sentence. In the English language we use the same word to mean many things. In Greek there are three main words for love.
Agape – Brotherly love, love of God toward man and man toward God. Unconditional love. Sacrificial. Good will toward another. Caring or Godly concern for another regardless of their response. Selfless. Not feelings based but rather a choice.
Phileo – Affection, brotherly friendship between two people who have common likes or experiences. Give and take.
Eros – Passion, electricity, excitement. Desire or longing, sexual love, feelings based. Ebbs and flows. Can be selfish. Not found in the Bible.
The love we see in 1 Cor. 13 is Agape love. The love we have for towards another person can be phileo love. The love you feel when you meet someone for the first time and are attracted to them is probably eros love. It’s the same word in English, but represents very, very different meanings.
Let’s focus on Agape Love
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a
Go back and reread the verses in the previous paragraph, only instead of love, insert your name. Nancy is patient and kind. Nancy does not envy or boast…and so on. But, use your name – not mine. Humbling, isn’t it?
Paul Tripp describes love as, “A willingness to sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.”
It is hard to understand, believe and accept God’s overwhelming, unconditional, unlimited love for us. 1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” The more we realize how much God loves us the more our attitudes and actions can flow from that love.
Am I motivated by love which leads to freedom and joy?
Or, Am I motivated by fear, which leads to guilt and duty?
Those two questions can be life changing. Think about your relationship with God, with family members or with friends. Is it a joy to love and serve them, or is it a burden that leaves you grumpy?
Luke 10:27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Gal. 5:6 “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
On that day when we stand before Christ and give an account of how we spent our lives, most of we we focus on day in and day be worth a hill of beans. All that will matter is how we loved.