Welcome to Day 2 of our 3M Fast. The Fruit of the Spirit includes nine life-transforming characteristics as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23,
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Today, I want to examine “Love.”
In my 34 years of pastoring, I have had the opportunity to counsel with many couples who were planning to get married. Most of the time, I’ll ask them a question for which I already know the answer to. I’ll ask, “Why do you want to get married?” The answer is almost always, “We are in love!” Then I ask the question, “What does that mean to you?” This is where they stumble and stutter and usually refer to the way they feel around their mate. Something “warm and fuzzy on the inside” is generally the normal response. In our culture, it seems that love is always connected with some form of feeling. In all honesty, I was not much more enlightened about marriage when I got married 37 years ago. But I was at least mature enough to know that love had to be more than a feeling. There had to be an act of the will and intellect, not just an emotional response.
When we look at this divine ingredient called “love” that God tells us is a part of the “Fruit of the Spirit,” we need to have at least a working definition of what Love is based on. What is God talking about? In modern English, we find ourselves limited in our understanding or at least our definition of love. When the New Testament was written, the Greek language had four words that we have translated love. First is the word, Storge – which means affection, especially the love parents have for their children. This word has very limited usage in the New Testament. The second word is Eros – which means to express the passionate love between a couple. It carries the connotation of sexual love. This word was taken from the primordial Greek god of lust, love and intercourse. This type of love is most often dependent on what one sees or feels. It often includes a selfish element that is looking for what the individual can get out of the love relationship. The third word for love in the Greek is Philia. This kind of love is generally expressed for those who are nearest and dearest to us; a friendship kind of love. This kind of love causes us to return kindness to those who show us kindness. Interestingly, it can also mean “kiss.” In Matthew 26:48, we see the word “kiss” where it states that Judas “kiss” as a sign of betrayal. Philia is never used in the Bible in a command to men to love God. The fourth Greek word for love is Agape. This raises the bar to a whole new level. This is a love not based on a feeling nor on what someone has done for us, but a love that is selfless and sacrificial. This kind of love is based on a choice; a deliberate effort to seek nothing but the best for others, even those who seek the worst for us. Agape is the word that is used in the Bible to refer to God’s love for man, the command for man to love God and to love others.
On one occasion, Jesus was asked, what’s the greatest commandment.
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let me ask you, how do you think most people would define love? Do you think this definition is positive or negative in developing good relationships?