“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” —Josh Billings
Everyone needs a little love! One of the most famous singing groups of all time was the Beatles, who themselves were masters of love songs. The large majority of the songs the band wrote was indeed about nothing else—those songs were really their bread and butter! It’s no surprise really, it’s a topic that is very close to our hearts. I think we can safely admit that we all need some love.
I remember as a child in grade school, the teachers had us make these cute little pockets to post on the end of our desks to hold the Valentine’s Day cards we would receive from our classmates. Everyone seemed so happy and excited to get the funny little cards with candy and to read the kind words about how special and loved they were. Other children however seemed heart-broken not to get hardly any cards and kind words. The need to feel loved is so strong, even from early on in childhood. I would compare it to the need for food. Without proper nutrition and those much-needed nutrients, a child’s growth may be stunted, and all sorts of illness could result in body and mind. So it is when we don’t receive the love we need to thrive. Yet “love” is a word that is widely used and often misunderstood. To see what the true meaning of love is, we must first look at God, for God Himself is the perfect expression of love—God is love! (I John 4:8) How does God describe love? I Corinthians 13:4-8, 13, says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 . . . And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Wow! As I read this I see how easy it can be to fall short of love, but I also see how, as we mature in our relationships, and with God, so does our love. It’s a life-long process to walk in love as we let these qualities get from our head to our heart, and then out into our daily life and interactions with the world. But even then, love can still be a confusing concept. Let’s look at the three meanings of love given to us in the Greek. Maybe they can shed some light . . .
The three meanings of love given in Greek:
- EROS—relating to sexual love; it can be emotional as well.
- PHILEO—which is described as “brotherly love”.
- AGAPE— a love that’s given and expects no return. Christ had this type of love.
While all three aspects of love have their place, “Agape” love is the most effective of these three in building a foundation for any lasting relationship. It also acts like an umbrella for which all other aspects of love exist. If we try to build a relationship based on eros love alone, it will only last as long as the emotions felt or the sexual gratification. Phileo love will last as long as the person gives love in return. Agape love, on the other hand, will always last, because it expects nothing in return and has no conditions that come with it. This is how God loves us: unconditionally.
May you sense God’s “agape love” today, and may you discover the beauty of giving it away to a world in need. If you need a little help in learning more about “agape love”, you can also observe how dogs interact with their “imperfect” human companions. We’ve certainly all been the beneficiaries of those often undeserved cuddles and kisses. What a beautiful example of unconditional love. God bless you dear friends!
PEEK INSIDE THE BOOK