Love is the most powerful thing in the world with enormous potential to give life. For all the power love holds, we still live in a world that is hungry for love. Everyone is looking for love. We look for love, think we have found it, and then find ourselves disillusioned when the feelings go away. Well what does real love look like anyway? What is the love we all need and want? How will see this here know when we’ve found it?
Depending on who’s doing the talking and what is being expressed, love means different things to different people. Two people might commit themselves to love each other but have different ideas of what it really means. Some think of being in love as an unexplainable feeling that we fall in and out of, especially in today’s society. Love can also mean a self-sacrificing action on behalf of others. Some use the word love to refer to a desire for a sexual relationship. Even in everyday conversation we use the word love to refer to a variety of things. For instance, I love music or I love my computer or I really love your hair like that.
Love can be a dangerous word because it can mean so many different things to different people it can end up meaning nothing at all. Love makes us vulnerable to being hurt, misunderstood, embarrassed, or taken advantage of. Some have been so hurt by elusiveness of love that they’ve given up on it, totally washed their hands of it.
I hope after reading this article and studying the scriptures for yourself that you will find love isn’t so elusive after all. It might help us though to make a distinction between the different kinds of love before we proceed any further, then focus on the kind of Christian love the Holy Spirit produces or God’s kind of love.
In the Greek language there are four words that describe this act of loving. I don’t particularly care for Greek words because I don’t speak Greek, but in this case it helps us to understand Christian love better.
The first is the Eros. It is from this word Eros that we get the word erotic and romantic. What it is basically is the chemical reaction between a male and a female. During the New Testament times this word Eros was associated with lust. Love on this level is usually self-centered.
The second word is Philia. Philia is the kind of human love that comes out because we appreciate the goodness of others. Sometimes we say I love him or her for what they did in my time of need, or for a community or country. It is not romantic. It is more gratitude, admiration and respect.
The third word for love is Storge. This is the love that is shared between family members, most of the time that is. Between spouses, brothers and sisters, parents and children. This love is often conditional on some kind of relationship.
And then there is Agape, the word the Bible uses and the word we are concerned about here. It is not the I love because I am loved love. Neither is it the I love you because I need you love. Agape is the kind of love Jesus showed on the cross. Forgiving those who were persecuting Him. This love is sacrificial, self-giving, and unmerited by the recipient.
It loves those who are hard to love. Agape is the hardest kind of love because it is loving those that we might feel don’t deserve it, loving even when we know we won’t get it in return. Its the kind of love that the Holy Spirit produces within us and allows us to do things that we cannot do by ourselves. No wonder Paul puts it at the beginning of the list of the Fruit of the Spirit.
One of the first steps in receiving and releasing God’s kind of love is to recognize the difference between human love and a true God-kind of love. Man’s corrupt nature doesn’t have access to God’s love. God is love and any man or woman who does not have God is separated from true love. Human love and God’s love are not even in the same class. Basically, human love is selfish and God’s love is totally unselfish. Human love says, I’ll love you as long as you do what I want you to. God’s love is unconditional.
First Corinthians 13:4-8 lists the characteristics of God’s love. Few understand and appreciate how unique God’s love really is. We relate God’s love similarly to the way we’ve been loved. Our bad experiences prevent us from accepting God’s love bringing Him down to our level thinking His love is conditional or proportional to our performance. That’s how everyone else loves us, but God’s love is different. Its like no other love you’ve ever experienced.
God’s love never fails, even when we do. God’s love is unconditional. We didn’t do anything to deserve it and therefore, God doesn’t withdraw His love when we don’t deserve it. God loves us because He is love, not because we are lovable.
As we explore the characteristics of real love get ready for a revelation that will change your life. Then make a decision to renew your mind in the area of God’s love. Ask the Lord to teach you anew what His love is all about.
Real love is longsuffering and kind. Charity suffers long, and is kind. The first characteristic of God s love recorded in 1 Corinthians 13 is long-suffering and kind. There are two ways to apply these truths. As Christians, we are to be long-suffering and kind to others, but this also describes the way God acts toward us. God is love (1 John 4:8), and the reason we can act in love toward others, is because He first acted in love toward us (1 John 4:19).
If you think God holds a grudge with you every time you do something wrong you will hold a grudge with others who do wrong to you. We give out of what we receive. If we can’t receive love we can’t give it. God doesn’t ask more of us than what He is willing to give. He wouldn’t tell us to be long-suffering and kind to others and then be short tempered with us. No! The Lord is very long-suffering and kind in His dealings with us. Kindness and long-suffering are distinguishing characteristics of God’s kind of love for us.
Real love does not envy. The dictionary defines envy as discontented desire or resentment aroused by another’s possessions, achievements, or advantages. A person who is discontent or resents others who have more things, more talent or a better job, is a person who does not appreciate God’s love for him. When we receive God’s love for us, a supernatural contentment settles into our lives that cannot be affected by the desire for things. Discontentment is envy and is at the root of all temptation.
Take Adam and Eve as an example. Before the devil could get them to sin, he had to make them discontent. That was not easy to do. They had no needs. They had never been hurt or abused. However he made them believe they were missing out on something. He made two people, living in paradise dissatisfied with perfection. That’s amazing!
This shows that contentment isn’t a state of being, but a state of mind. If perfect people living in a perfect world could become discontented, then certainly imperfect people living in an imperfect world can be discontented regardless of how things are going. We have to learn to be content in all states (Philippines. 4:11). God’s love will give us the contentment we desire.