It's really not what you're thinking!
The trouble is, when we think about love we tend to think about the lovey-dovey gushy stuff or even sex.
But when it comes to the biblical meaning of love it’s important to get a handle on it so as not to immediately think that all Christians are wusses whenever you hear the word ‘love’ and ‘Christian’ mentioned in the same sentence.
God loved us first. If we didn’t know what love was in the first place, how could we pass it on? God also sent His only Son to suffer on a Cross and die for us so that we would be saved – because He loved or should I say loves us.
The fullest description or explanations of love can be found in The Bible - 1 Corinthians 13:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
In the Bible Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. The second and equally important commandment is to: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Love is mentioned 759 times in the Bible, so it viewed as quite an important subject!
In the Greek versions of the Bible, the Greek language uses four different words for love, unlike the English language, which uses one word. The Greek meanings are as follows:
- Phileo Love; Affectionate Love, brotherly love, love for friends, sisters, aunts, uncles and love for other family members.
- Eros Love; You can guess that this is where the word ‘erotic’ comes from. Erotic love is the type of love between a man and a woman – as long as it happens within the confines of marriage.
- Stergein Love; A love between family members, i.e. brothers and sisters, for a parent or grand parent.
- Agape Love; The Ultimate Love. This is sacrificial love, serving others, dying for others. There is no love greater than this. This word ‘Agape’ love is used to describe the love Jesus has for us and although the word was rarely used in Greek speaking societies, it was used 320 times in the New Testament.
For us to love, we need compassion, tolerance and the ability to forgive and not to judge. All these can seem tall orders but how else can we live on this planet?
Whilst loving our neighbour may seem a difficult task, it is made easier when we’re connected to the power God has made available to us. He gives us the ability to carry out his plans, even if others would want to trip us up and send us off course.
It’s a strange concept to get our heads around; the more we stop and allow ourselves to be submitted to God, the easier it is to exist like he wants us to.
It seems like a reverse process, do nothing and more happens! Actively stop striving and yet become stronger. Sit back and wait to see what God ends up doing when we don’t get in the way.
When it comes to love, we are to realise that it’s not the person who may be challenging us with their behaviour, but what’s inside them making them do it. That’s why we pray!
To finish off; Love is one of the hardest emotions and actions to fulfil as a Christian, particularly as we have many opposing forces that would want to stop us from acting out God’s plan. I believe that it’s connected with peace. Try thinking or doing all this without it.