The word love has a very subjective meaning in our language. A person loves her house, loves her dog, her exercise equipment, or the flowers in her garden. A person says he loves his kids, his job, his friends, and his wife. Certainly, none of these uses of love are the same.
In the original Greek text of the New Testament love is more specifically defined. The Greek language divides the concept of love into specific areas.
There is erotic love or passion. This is the intimate form of love. This love is important in a marriage because of the closeness and physical surrender to the other person. It makes the relationship stronger It is a kind of love in which a person enjoys the intimacy with the other person, and it is called love.
The Greeks had a word for love of family and devotion to family. This would mean that family comes first. This would be support and generosity and protection to family members. This would be an enjoyment of the fellowship with the family. This relationship is also called love.
Those in the ancient world thought of a special kind of love for another person which today could be called brotherly love. It is a feeling that comes with accompaniment of that buddy. It is that comfort and satisfaction that the other person can be trusted. It is what makes a person say that he wants to go fishing with that someone.
In John’s Gospel Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, and Peter said he did. However, the first two times Jesus asked with the word for unconditional love. Peter responded with phileo or brotherly love just mentioned previously. Jesus wanted to know that Peter had unconditional love and devotion to him. Peter merely replied that he had a buddy love for Jesus. The third time Jesus asked the question because he wondered if Peter even had brotherly love for him.
Then for humans the highest love can be called divine love. Sometimes the word agape is used on the placard of a business or for church names. The reason this is divine love is because it is the way God loves man. He knows that humans cannot meet a perfect standard. With all the shortcomings that people have, God loves everyone unconditionally. This kind of love may require sacrifice such as God sacrificing his son on the cross. This love is just there and will always be there. Regardless how the person feels or acts, God’s love cannot be changed because it comes out of who God is. In fact, the Bible says God is love.
Brave self-examination will show if that person really is loved or being loved. In the teen years is what has been called puppy love. That is in love with love. A lower level of love could really be what a person gets out of a relationship. Love could merely be based on selfishness or egotism and not simple acceptance and appreciation for a person.
One fact is true. Love cannot be demanded from another person. Love cannot be manipulated. Love cannot be imitated. Real love is not shallow. Love does not say what can I get from you, but what can I give to you. Love accepts the person as they are even though the lover may wish things were different. Love is honest and true. Valentine love can be one of the lesser types of love and not deep, heartfelt. Real love is an experience integrating mind and soul. Genuine love takes it on the chin and says I love you anyway. Absolute love turns the other cheek.
We may not be able to love as God does. However, we can try. We can love without self-serving efforts. And we can love without expecting something in return. Love is a relationship at the deepest level. Love is a surrender of one to the other. It is a challenge to grow stronger and better for the sake of the other person. It seeks out the best interest of the other person.
Happy agape love on this Valentine’s Day.