The Value of
When it comes to defining love our
English language is woefully inadequate. Name virtually
anything physical, material, financial, or fanciful and people can
be found who love it. No wonder we have such a foggy idea of
what love is.
The language in which the Christian
New Testament was written was Greek, the kind spoken by common
people in the market place no matter what their national language.
God obviously wanted to give His revelation of truth in a language
that could most easily communicate that truth to the largest
number of people. In regarding to "love", the Greek language
had four words for love: philos, agape, storge, and eros.
Philos is the affectionate love of close friends and lovers.
It makes its presence known by deep emotional feelings of
fondness. When I have counseled couples planning to get
married I have asked them to give me a definition of love. A
summation of what most of them say would be, "a gushy, warm, gooey
feeling that you have for someone." Almost without exception
these lovers thought of love as a warm feeling of affection.
They were experiencing philos love.
The big problem with philos love is that when something goes
sour in the relationship it can evaporate quicker than a morning
fog when the sun comes up.
STORGE: Love of our
Parents have a natural love for their children and children have a
natural love for their parents. There is a powerful bond
that works like a magnetic force between "blood relatives".
A common proverb with which most of us are familiar is, "blood
flows thicker than water". In Romans 12:10 the Apostle Paul
combined storge with philos to point out the spiritual family love
that true believers are to have for one another, "Be kindly
affectionate to one another with brotherly (storge) love (philos)".
EROS: Sensual or Sexual Love.
Although commonly used in secular Greek eros does not appear in
the Bible. Eros was the supposed son of Aphrodite and
Hermes. The word was associated with motivating sensual
desires and sensual activity. Within the bond of marriage
the Bible speaks approvingly of these desires and activities.
Like philos, eros has it's proper place between husband and wife,
but it is not the bond that holds the relationship together
through the rigors and ordeals of life.
AGAPE: A love commitment
of the mind and will.
Agape love is not a motivation of emotions. It is a
commitment of the mind and will based on values and principles.
It is a choice to make an unconditional commitment that our
thoughts, words, and actions will be in the welfare of the person
or persons to whom we commit our love.
Agape love had been in the Greek vocabulary long before
the writing of the New Testament, but rarely used. Like an
ill-favored stepchild it was relegated to a dark corner for
keeping in case a reason ever arose to bring it out.
Amazingly, it was precisely this word for love that God inspired
the writers of the New Testament to describe God's love for
mankind. (See John 3:16 and 1st John 4:10).
It was agape love that Jesus used when He taught that
the greatest commandment is, "You shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
He went on to teach that the second greatest commandment is, "You
shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew
23:37-39).. In addition to the ten commandments God gave
through Moses Jesus gave a new one to His disciples, "A new
commandment I give to you, that you love (agape) one
another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
(John 13:34). The entire 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians
extols the pre-eminent quality of agape love and closes with these
words, "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the
greatest of these is (agape) love." (1st
Agape love is characterized by deeds
and actions. When we read about God's love towards us the
Scripture emphasizes what God did rather than how He
felt. "For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son..." (John 3:16) and "In this is love,
not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to
be the propitiation (sacrifice) for our
sins." (1st John 4:10).
Only agape love can be reliably
tested. If words, deeds, and actions are consistently in the
best interests of the person(s) to whom love is committed, then
there is agape love. If words, deeds and actions are hurtful
then agape love is not present.
BENEFITS OF COMMITTED LOVE
Assurance and Security.
It is the nature of all humans to need reassurances of
committed love. That is why Jesus constantly reaffirmed His
love for His disciples with His words and actions. "God
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting
life" was just as fresh in the Apostle John's mind when he
recorded those words as they were the first time he heard Jesus
speak them. Jesus continued to give assurances of His love
to His disciples. Space only allows a brief sample:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and
believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not
come into judgment but has passed from death into life."
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life
for the sheep." John 10:11. ". . .And I lay down My
life for the sheep." John 10:15.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me
and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither
shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27,
"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good
pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32.
When Jesus died on the cross; rose again three days later;
appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days and then
ascended to Heaven they were fully convinced of His committed love
God has given us the revelation of New
Testament truth so that we can appropriate His truth and enjoy
assurance and security. "Nothing. . .shall be able to
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our
LORD." Romans 8:39.
On the human level others need to be constantly reassured of our
committed love for them. Jesus added a new commandment for
His Disciples: ". . .that you love one another; as I have
loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34.
This commandment is echoed numerous times in the New Testament
epistles. Husbands are commanded to love their wives
(Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33; Colossians 3:19). Wives are
commanded to love their husbands and their children. Titus
2:4. In every case the word for love is a form of agape. .
.and unconditional commitment that thoughts, words, and actions
will be in the best interest of the person to whom the love is
committed. The end result is that the recipient of this love
grows in assurance and security.
Most people think of hope as a wish for something they desire.
The Biblical concept of hope is a confident expectation that
what has been promised will come to pass. Down through
the centuries great hosts of people only had a wishful desire
about what waited beyond their physical death. All during
the time there were some who had a confident expectation.
The patriarch, Job, gives us the best example: "For I
know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the
earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my
flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes
shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"
How could Job and others have this confident expectation?
The answer can be found in part in the following truths:
The promises and prophecies of God
being kept and fulfilled. According to prophetic
scholars some 85% of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled.
In Genesis 3:15, God promised that a godly seed would crush the
head of the serpent and in doing so, would have His heel bruised.
The majority of Old Testament Scripture and the gospels of the New
Testament are related to the fulfillment of this prophecy.
That fulfillment came when Jesus triumphantly shouted, "It
is finished!" on the cross of Calvary. The Redeemer
had come and paid the redemption price for all mankind. The
inspired word of God was fully vindicated. Three days later
Jesus rose again and gave further confirmation.
The working of God in the human
heart. Psalm 19:1-4 assures us that there is no person
on earth who does not receive a message from God by the creation
God created. Genesis 6:3 tells us God said, "My spirit
shall not always strive with man. . .". As troubling as
that is the statement reveals that God's Spirit had previously
been striving with man and was continuing to do so up to that
point in time.
"Where can I go from Your Spirit?" is the question raised
in Psalm 139:7. The next five verses make clear there is no
such place in all creation. Jeremiah tells us clearly what
His Spirit was doing in the hearts of the Israelite people, "The
LORD has appeared of old to me, saying, 'Yes, I have loved you
with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have
drawn you." Jeremiah 31:3. The verses that follow
tell us that God did all this to give Israel hope in the times of
In harmony with this Old Testament
teaching Jesus said, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all peoples to Myself." The next verses
explains, "This He said, signifying by what death He would
die." (i.e.. crucifixion). To those who are not only
drawn but actually accept the sacrifice of Christ for their sins
Paul writes, "But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His
great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in
trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have
bee saved)." Ephesians 2:4,5. Again, the Apostle
Paul tells us that the salvation that Believers receive teaches
them to deny ungodliness...live righteously and look "for the
blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior
Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-13.
May we take a page from the benefits
of God's agape love to us and commit to the practice of agape love
in our relationship to God and fellow humans.
Copyright © 2002
Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.