Love can have so many meanings

Published 10:04 am Friday, May 17, 2019

Love is in the air and wedding season is in full swing. Out of all the things that God gave to mankind, I believe that love is the greatest. But love can mean different things to different people.

One person defined love this way: “It’s that ‘butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling’ you get when you are around someone special. It is usually accompanied by sweaty palms, racing pulse, jumbled thoughts, and sometimes blurred vision.” (Sounds like a heart attack doesn’t it?)

Another person described it this way: “Love is a form of amnesia during which a girl forgets there are 1,222,978,173 other guys in the world!”

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In the English language, we have only one word for love. Yet we use this same word with different people to communicate something very different for each person.

For example, you can say, “I love you” to a friend, “I love you” to your spouse  and “I love ice cream” and the word would mean something different in all three cases.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:8, “He that loves not knows not God, for God is love.” So, what does God mean when He says, “I love you?”

In the Bible, there are 4 different words for love, which makes it a little easier for us to understand what God means:

1. Phileo, which refers to friendly love… from which we get our word Philadelphia – the city of “brotherly love.”

2. Eros, which refers to physical, sensual love…from which we get our word erotic.

3. Storge, which refers to the love between family members.

4. Agape, which refers to the highest level of love because it is a selfless, unconditional love.

The kind of love God has for us is Agape love. And 1 John 4:8 tells us that’s who God is: selfless, unconditional love.

True love is not determined by the one being loved, but rather by the one choosing to love. God doesn’t love us because we are so lovable… but because He chooses to love us despite our flaws, sins, etc.

One day, a wife complained to her husband that the only time he said he loved her was the day they were married. To which the husband replied, “I meant it when I said it. If anything changes I’ll let you know.”

God doesn’t just tell you He loves you one time—He’ll tell you every day if you’ll just listen. He will help you discover an unconditional, no-strings-attached love that will never leave you! And that’s the kind of love marriages and families must be built on.

In fact, when you live every day with Agape love (selfless, unconditional love) it strengthens all your other relationships. Anything less will fall apart.

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia