I Know Exactly What Love Is!
Everything Can Relate to a Song
So there used to be this beautiful song that my mom used play in the car, and the main lyric went, "I know exactly what love is. Love is real simple and true. Love is this feeling my heart gets when I'm being held close by you." I agree that love involves feelings. However, feelings are a by-product of loving someone, loving someone is not a by-product of feelings.
In other words, when you feel your heart warming for another person is not when you should begin loving them. God's kind of love is "patient, kind, it doesn't envy, it doesn't boast, it isn't proud, it isn't self-seeking, it's not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13;4-7). I think one of the reasons the bible starts off explaining love by describing everything it is not is because we have different ideas as to what love is.
Different Types of Love
Even the word love elicits a variety of images to different groups of people. i remember a pastor once describing how the word love is over-used. It's true. The same word that can be ascribed to a romantic relationship can also be used to explain someone's feelings for food. I am not exempting myself from over-usage of the word. I claim that I love food all the time and that it makes me happy. But I feel a bit differently about food than I would feel about another person. Most of you are probably thinking, Amen! I love food much more.
On the more serious side, we are constantly associating the same word with a variety of items without completely valuing the entire meaning of the word we are using.
There are three variations of the word love in the bible. One form of love is translated from agapao, meaning a love compelled by a commitment to another. This type of love is expressed regardless of the emotions that surface while being near another person. The second form of the word love was translated from the word phileo, which involves having a respectful type of love to family and friends. Another word that love was translated from is eros, which derives from a Greek word meaning intimate love. The final word that biblical love is based on is the word storge, which means affection that is given, especially from parents to children.
Some people believe that the only type of love you should represent as a christian is the agapao kind, the type of love that excludes emotions from the situation. But God represented each type of love, and just from spending time with Him, you can learn that He is a passionate God. He created emotion, as well as everything else, for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). It's when we put emotion before God that our priorities get out of order and something that God created for good leads us to disappointment. However, God is our ultimate example, and by following His examples of love and His leading on how to love, we can live as joyfully as He intended us to.
Examples of Love
Jesus displays the ultimate representation of agapao love when he lays down his life for not only those who would later accept him, but for the entire world (John 3:16 & John 15:13). The phileo form of love was shown as far back as the Garden of Eden, where God respectfully gave us a choice as to whether or not we wanted to obey His word. The eros kind of love can easily be exhibited in a marriage. The bible claims that God is our husband (Isaiah 54:5). Furthermore, God knows us far more intimately than any possible human can (Psalm 139;2). Finally, our heavenly Father shows us that the storge type of love is important as well through the words spoken in Matthew 7:11). I encourage you to look up the last scripture and ask God to show you how to love as He loves.
One way we can learn to love God is through obedience to His word. When we obey what He says, we understand that He loves us and that He really does work together all things for our good. We're justified (just as if we had never sinned) in Christ Jesus. Joy accompanies love. Those who live without God have never and can never truly felt love before. They can feel and even give a way a "type" of love. But they will never fully experience the wholeness that is attached to knowing that a savior died so that they could live. That gives us as christians a great responsibility but also a great honor. The bible says that we have the hope of glory, which is Christ, living on the inside of us (Colossians 1:27). It also says that " the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Think about how much eternity is living within your confined earthly body. When you open your mouth, you have the capability of pouring out God's love upon His people through your words. When you open up your arms, you have the ability to infect the world with arms of compassion. And when you allow your feet to move, you allow God's presence to move along with your steps and occupy the areas you abide in. Love is not just an aspect of God. It's not just a personality trait. It's who God is. God is love and nothing in this world or out of this world can separate us from it (1 John 4:8 & Romans 8:38-39).