Driving around Gilroy, I still see remnants of Valentine’s Day. Glittery hearts have replaced Christmas decorations, colors of red and pink delight neighborhoods and banners blow in the wind saying “I love you more” or “Love you to the moon and back.”
Think about that four-letter word, how it’s used and even spelled can determine its meaning. Haven’t you said, “Mmm, sure love the burgers at ___(fill in the blank),” “I love ice cream” (who doesn’t), “loved my eighth grade teacher” or signed a card, “luv ya.” These days, we use a heart emoji in place of writing the word.
Four Greek words communicate the unique forms of love found in scripture, each having a specific meaning. Eros, a romantic or sexual love, is the gift from God for married couples (Song of Songs), but can lead to sin (Galatians 5:19). Phileo/Philia, characterizes the warm affection we share with close friends, that may manifest in empathetic, deep emotions such as when Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus (John 11:33-36). Similarly, storge love is a natural, caring bond between parents, children and siblings. “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10) can be a love of degrees as is “You shall love your neighbor” and “Love your enemies” declared by Jesus in the gospels. The commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” brings me to the last form of love.
We’ve heard the term that describes the highest level of love written on the Bible scritta pages: Agape. This has been called unconditional, yet, not to the same degree you think of your dog giving unconditional love. We’ve all attended weddings where 1Corinthians 13:4-8 is vowed between bride and groom, but how many years later is one spouse trying to change the other or pick apart the “love of their life” for not taking out the garbage? The Hebrew word Hesed, graphically defines a steadfast, deeply intense, pure, sacrificial love that is given one way…God to human (1John 4:16)! Hesed is perfect love and the only one whom is perfect and was willing to die for your sins and, thank you, Jesus, for mine (Romans 5:6-8, John 15:13).
You may say, “Oh, but I would die for my child” or pray over a sickly spouse, asking God to let it be you instead. I don’t doubt this, but imagine being God, The Father, not only knowing how the story ends, but watching His son, Jesus, scourged with chains and spiked whips, witnessing nails driven through hands and feet, feeling heartbreak as a twisted, thorny crown is thrust into His head (John 19:2), while blood and sweat drip down His body, to death….a sacrifice willingly made so we may have eternal life (John 3:16). He loves us this much!
“Love” to hear from you: [email protected]
I close, in the fruit of the spirit given to all believers: peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).