How Do I love Thee??

Last week, we looked at non-negotiable faith practices and contrasted them against subjective ways we worship. I also mentioned the phrase “Christian love.” We say that it is unconditional, but what does that mean? What are the different kinds of love?

“I love my car!”

“I love my friend!”

“I love Jesus!”

Several meanings, one word! Our English language limits how we express feelings and actions, including love. However, the Bible presents three primary loves: lust, fondness, and unconditional love. Let’s examine each.

Lust. Greek epithumia represents a firm intention to have something. Jesus tells us that someone who lusts after (intends to have) another’s spouse has sinned, even if the act falls through (Matthew 5:27-28). Intent (heart/mind) matters!! Our legal system tries people for intending to murder even if the plan was thwarted.

Fondness. Think words that begin with phil. These Greek words represent a fondness for something. For instance, philadelphia is a fondness for brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 13:1). Indeed, you’ve heard of or visited Philadephia, PA, the City of Brotherly Love! Fondness for humankind is philanthropea (Titus 3:3-5), and of money, philaguria (Hebrews 13:5).

Lust and fondness are emotion-driven and, therefore, come and go. You may like me now but hate me tomorrow – especially if my articles conflict with your beliefs. So, neither love is the unconditional love God has shown or that we must have for each other.

Unconditional Love. This love doesn’t come and go with an emotional wind. It’s doing the right thing for the right reason despite feelings. Greek noun agape is this love that God has for all creation. Verb agapao is love action. God is love (agape); God loved and loves as we should (agapo).

For instance, God hasn’t always been happy with humanity but still loves so much that He gave His Son for all people and takes His time before bringing judgment.

We love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

… Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him (Acts 10:34-35).

So, how should we love?

… ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (Matthew 22:37-39).

Next week, I’ll share the untold Christmas story.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

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