Wk 3 | True Love
What is something you love? We toss around that word so often and so flippantly. It means so many different things. We use it to say, “I love waffles,” and in the same breath can say, “She is the love of my life.”
What is love? How would you define it?
So, we’re in a series about relationships. What does the Bible have to say about love and relationships, and what can we learn from it about what it means to love?
Read Ephesians 5:25-29
Before we get to this kind of love, we need to understand the different forms of love in their culture. We have one word, “love.” They had four which translate to our one word. What language was the New Testament written in? Greek. Out of the four Greek words for “love,” three of them are found in the Bible.
eros – Sexual love; This is the word that, though it was prevalent in their culture, it is not found in the Bible. This word was used in such instances when referring to cult prostitutes. It emphasized loving the beauty or sensuality of something. It’s where we get our word erotic from. To be honest, I think this is the what a boy or girl at your age means most of the time when they say “I love you.” They have very strong feelings for you. But, what are those feelings based on? As we will see in a little bit, are those feelings willing to sacrifice?
philia – friendship love; This word is rarely found in the New Testament, and it’s always paired with another word. When you see the word “brotherly love,” this Greek word is within it. This is the type love that good friends have for one another. It’s where the city Philadelphia gets its name. Do you know what they call Philadelphia? The city of brotherly love.
storge – family love; Like eros, this word is not found, as is, in the Bible. But, the opposite of this word is found. If you take a word and put “a” in front of it, what does it mean? What is a theist? Someone who believes in God. Put an “a” in front of it. What is an atheist? Someone who doesn’t believe in God. We find the Greek word astorgos which is translated as “heartless.” In Romans 1:31, unrighteous people are described as “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” The word “heartless” is astorgos. And in 2 Timothy 3:3, the disobedient generation living in the last days is marked as “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good.” Again, “heartless” is translated from astorgos. So, a lack of storge, the natural love among family members, is a sign of end times.
agape – unconditional love; By far, this is the word used for love in the Bible. Over 90% of the time you see the word “love” in your New Testament, it is referring to this type of love. Thomas Aquinas referred to this type of love as “to will the good of the other.” Thomas Merton said of this type of love, “love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved.” This type of love, agape, is often translated as “charity,” which shows you some of its intention. It exists for the good of another.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that of the many words for love that existed in the time, that the primary form of love to be expressed in the Bible is self-sacrificial love for the sake of another.
Agape is self-sacrificial love for the sake of another.
Now back to our text. This is the type of love that is meant between a man and a woman, specifically within marriage.
How is a husband to love his wife according to this text? As Christ loved the church…and gave Himself for her. Sacrificed Himself for her…for you. Out of love. For your good.
Love is a commitment to the best of another, even if the other doesn’t recognize or accept the reality of the good.
The best thing you can do for someone is to tell them about Jesus. Even if they don’t recognize it and don’t believe it. Telling someone about God’s sacrificial love for them ends up for their earthly and eternal good if they believe it. That is THE best you can do.
Think about it in terms of relationships. Statistics show that, more than likely the person you are dating right now or you are about to be dating is not the person you will marry. Think about the good of the rest of that person’s life. One night of giving into eros love will cause many problems for yours and that person’s marriage in the future.
Sacrificing your passions now will allow you to more fully love your husband or wife in your marriage.
* Story – Sara and I didn’t say “I love you” until we were engaged and didn’t kiss until our wedding day *
The form of love the Bible models and tells us to love with is agape, self-sacrificial love for the sake of the other. That means you sacrifice some of your eros love for the sake of something better for the both of you.
This all flows out of the love God has for us. You can’t do this on your own. It’s from Him, for Him, and because of Him.
1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.
1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
John 15:12 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
God is committed to your good, physically, emotionally, spiritually, for now and eternity. There are many voices in the world that would tell you the opposite. And many people follow that path. And the Bible tells us it leads to destruction.
There is a pandemic going on right now. And it’s not from Covid. It’s within the church and it’s a virus of eros that is attacking people’s beliefs. There is a term called “exvangelical” that is going around and the term “deconstruction.” People who were once active in their youth group and church and passionately pursuing Jesus are now walking away from their faith and say they are “deconstructing” their faith.
Two notable people I’ve seen this from recently is Joshua Harris, who was a pastor and author of many books that taught incredible and truthful things about God, as well as his first book about purity called, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” And the other I’ve heard of is one of the pastor and author John Piper’s sons, Abraham Piper.
They each have intellectual reasons they say why they have left the faith, and a lot of it has to do with the church not “loving” people. The more I read what they say and comments of people who are following in their footsteps, I see one common thread. And I think it’s the core of why they are not following Jesus. And I read Abraham Piper flat out admit it. He admitted that he had all of these lofty intellectual problems that he said was why he was leaving the faith, but in reality, he “wanted to drink cheap sangria and sleep around.”
When I read Joshua Harris’s posts on Instagram and the comments on them, sexuality is almost always at the forefront. I first encountered this in a book I had to read for a PhD seminar. It is called The Making of an Atheist. And it’s a scholarly book revealing many of the motives behind the noteworthy atheists of the past and our time. And it reveals it’s almost always not because of intellectual reasons why people don’t believe in God, but because of some moral reason. And I’m seeing it played out right now as people are leaving the faith for the sake of sexual freedom. They aren’t willing to sacrifice eros for the sake of agape. This is nothing new, though. It’s the same thing they dealt with in Bible times.
Ephesians 4:14-16 – 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Jesus modeled this in John 4 with the woman at the well.
He models it well with you also. He tells you the way and sacrificed Himself because of yours and my inability to follow that way. He seeks your good whether you are running from it or even denying that it is real or actually good. It doesn’t matter to Him. He sacrificed Himself to you…because He loves you.
The woman at the well passage comes right after John chapter 3, and you know what is found there. And it’s for you.
John 3:16-17 – 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus loves me, and He died for my good.