February, the month of love, right? If I am to write an article for the newspaper, it’s got to be about one of my favorite pastoral topics. Love. As a pastor of a local church, I cannot think of an easier subject to preach on other than love. Simple right?
Not so fast! If we are talking about love, what kind of love? There is the kind of love a husband and wife have. There is a boyfriend/girlfriend love, a brotherly/sisterly love, or perhaps you simply have a pet and you love it. I’ve always been aware there were different kinds of love but until I started reading and studying my bible, I didn’t understand what those loves were or what they meant. To understand it, you have to go back to the Greek language. The translation of the Bible that I use, the word “love” is referenced 551 times, so we know that it’s a very important subject biblically speaking. Out of those 551 times, there are sub-categories.
For example, the Greek word “Eros” translates back to a meaning that most of us are best familiar with, a sexual or romantic love. Being a married man, I “Eros” my wife. I love her in a romantic sense. The Greek word “Phileo” translates in the Greek to a fraternal or a friendly love, a brotherly love. It’s where we get the word Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love. The Greek word “storge” translates back to a “family” love. This would be the way a father loves his son, or a mother loves her daughter. But to me… there is one that stands far and away above the rest.
“Agape” This love word means a sacrificial love. This is the type of love that we are called to live above everything else. It’s easy to love my wife romantically. It’s easy to love my own son in a family way. It’s easy to love my friends in a brotherly way, but Agape love? This can only truly be done with Christ in your heart. The bible speaks a lot of Agape love, and it references it numerous times. This is not an easy way to love people. Agape love isn’t self-seeking nor self-promoting. When you love someone with Agape love you aren’t looking for something in return or even for Agape love to be given back to you. It is, in fact, a sacrificial love. This is the way Jesus loves us. An Agape love. That even though we are undeserving, he loved us enough to die for our transgressions. In light of that, we are then also called to love each other with that same type of love. What does that look like for us? Is he calling me to go and physically die for someone? Perhaps. But most of us won’t have that opportunity like so many have done on the battlefield. So how are we to love people in an Agape manner?
A passage from the book of Philippians helps keep me focused:
Philippians 2: 3-5 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”
That is true Agape love, a sacrificial love that says you are more important than me. Your needs are more important than mine. Your will is more important than mine. When we love that way, God is pleased, and Christ is glorified. Let us love each other with Agape love.