• Chris Steele

Bible Love

Be Strong, Be Well — Sunday, August 9

God is many wonderful things. In describing the Almighty, the Bible uses adjectives—God is holy, God is righteous, and God is merciful. The scriptures also use nouns to describe Him—God is Spirit, God is One, and God is love.

In our human thinking, we automatically go to what is natural for us in our own understanding of things. To view something differently, we must be taught. This is true in understanding “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

There are four different Greek words, all translated as one English word “love.” Three of the four are the most common in our human thinking, because they come naturally. The fourth must be taught.

Eros is romantic love. Our English “erotic” comes from this word. It involves intimacy and sexual love. It’s purely physical. We do not find this word anywhere in the New Testament.

Storgē is familial, fundamental, instinctive, and natural love for parents, children, and family. Unfortunately, some people don’t have this kind of love. Paul speaks of those who are “without natural affection” (astorgous—Romans 1:31).

Philia or phileō is brotherly love. This is the affection we have for friends and companions. We are familiar with the term philadelphia (brotherly love) which is derived from this word. This love comes naturally and therefore cannot be commanded.

Agapē or agapaō does not involve feelings or emotions. It is the highest form of love. This love can be commanded because it does not come naturally to us. This is the love characteristic of God’s very nature—unconditional, selfless, sacrificial love. It involves the mind—a deliberate thinking process, followed by a demonstration of that mindset. Think of this as you read Matthew 5:38-48.

Notice how Jesus ties this together in the kind of love He is and demonstrates and what He in turn expects from us. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

The Lord’s answer to, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?” was, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31). 

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).

May we ever strive to practice the unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial love we learn from our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. —Chris

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