LOVE. It’s complicated. When the views of love in our culture are vastly different than the views of our God, it’s easy to ask: What is love really supposed to be like?
However, the beautiful thing about love, is that God is love! And, He created everything out of love. We were designed and actually called to love one another. It is a special gift He gave us in order to grow closer together and closer to Him. There are different types of love that God gave us to be able to do this, too. We just have to remember that love is not a one-way relationship. It requires patience and kindness. It requires healthy boundaries, sacrifice, and a servant-heart.
The Bible lays it out pretty clearly for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Let’s explore the different types of love found in the Bible, and how God really calls us to live them out.
Eros/Romantic Love. Otherwise known as romantic love. When we first think of love, we may tend to envision a cute couple giggling, staring into one another’s eyes, obviously in awe of each other. Who doesn’t want that kind of love? The love you feel swallowed up in and get butterflies every time you see them. That’s the best part of it. But… what if that love changes or hurts you? What if they push you to do things you’re uncomfortable with; then what?
When we don’t understand the purpose of this relationship, it’s easy to get swept away and do things we will regret later.
So, how are we to live this type of love out? This love comes with boundaries. God created this type of love to be offered between a husband and a wife. It is the most sacred of all human relations for a reason. Marriage is a blessing and should be seen that way. When a couple says “I Do” they say those words in front of family and friends, but more importantly, they say those special words, in front of God. They make a convent to love one another. Promising to love one another through the happy and hard times.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
This verse is telling us that two are better than one. And when we put God in the center of this most sacred relationship ( a marriage) the mental, emotional and physical love that stems from it will be like no other human relationship. That is powerful.
Storge/Family Love. This is that special love between parents and children, brothers and sisters, aunt and uncles, cousins, and so on. Family is where we all began. This type of love is meant to give us a foundation of who we are and where we came from. But what if your family is divided? What if you don’t get along with some family members? We have to remember that we live in a broken and fall world. That being said, even our family members will fail us.
So, how are we to live this type of love out? We must remember our place and value in our family. Children are to respect their elders and parents. (Ephesians 6:2-3) Brothers and sisters are called to love one another. (1 John 4:12) Forgiveness is key here. In order to grow and move forward in the direction God is calling us, we must make peace with our past and family experiences.
Philia/Friendship Love. This is the kind of love we experience with our closest friends. Proverbs 27:9 says a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Having good friendships in our lives that can come alongside us and encourage us to be a better version of ourselves is a true blessing. But, what if they hurt us? What if we feel betrayed?
Most friendships in your life will be seasonal, meaning they will be in your life for a period of time. Very few will come in and stay for the entire journey. Life happens. Friends move or pull away due to differences or activities. Sometimes a strain on a friendship causes it to separate for a while.
So, how are we to live this type of love out? When we put this relationship in perceptive we realize the true blessing that it is. This is like frosting on the cake. If we place this relationship over others, trying to control it or give to the point where it becomes one-sided, it will fail. We have to treat it like the “sweet’ relationship that it is. Love, forgive, cherish and understand. Hold on to friends that see you for who you are and love you regardless. But, be ready to let go of those friendships that become unsafe or unhealthy. It's okay to let go, really.
Agape/God’s Love. This is the unconditional, never-failing love. The immeasurable love that we all ache for, longing to fill that void in our hearts. That type of love only comes from the divine love of a father – the Father. Our God may have created us to give and receive love, but He also gave us an empty place in our hearts that can only be filled up by HIS love.
So, how are we to live this type of love out? Our love is a choice. God doesn’t force us to love, He gives us the freedom to do so. Love is the most powerful emotion there is, and as believers, when we choose to love, we begin to truly discover our faith and belief in the love offered to us throughout the Scriptures. We see it as it's intended to be. Because God is the Creator and maker of love!
1 John 4:16 states that God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
We have a choice. We can choose to love the way the world does, which is broken and tainted, or we can choose the beautiful love our God created for us. Love God. Love others. It's really that simple. Understand how God sees love by placing boundaries around romantic love and waiting to share that special love with a husband. Honor, respect, and forgive your family members as needed. Understand the place of a friendship and in order to let it grow and be “sweet,” nurture it with care. For every relationship to be a blessing, we must trust God with each and everyone, allowing Him to lead us, opening our hearts, and showing us how to love the way He does.
When love is given the way God intended, it is truly the greatest treasure you will find this side of Heaven.
Happy Valentine's Day, sweet friends!!