It has been estimated that over 100 million love songs have been written. Not to mention the countless romance novels that have been written.
Even the Bible has a book about love called the Song of Solomon.
With all of these countless songs and books, you would think that we would have this love thing figured out.
However, if you read the Bible long enough you’ll soon realize that what we as humans think is love is far from what the Bible teaches.
Today we’re going to examine what love is according to God’s standards and how it differs from worldly love.
In order to understand what Biblical love is, we must first understand what worldly love is.
According to dictionary.com the word ‘love’ is defined,” as an intense feeling of deep affection or a great interest and pleasure in something. It can also be a deep affection for someone or to like or enjoy something very much. “
3 Key Characteristics of Worldly Love
Before we move on to Biblical love I want to examine 3 key characteristics of worldly love.
1. Based on Feelings
Worldly love is based on one’s feelings of affection, interest, and pleasure in something or someone. As we all know a person’s feelings can easily be manipulated and changed based on their situation and circumstances.
That is why worldly love is often dictated by how other people treat us. Often our love for a person is a direct reflection of how well or poorly we perceive their treatment of us.
2. Limited to Select Individuals
Worldly love is usually limited to a select few individuals. Namely, our close family and friends.
Honestly, when was the last time you showed the same amount of love and affection you have for your family members to a total stranger?
Matthew 5:6 says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”(NLT). Ouch!
3. Typically Self-Centered
Worldly love is often self-centered and only looks out for the best interest of the person. It is often based on the perceived benefits we are getting or the expected return on our investment. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why you love your spouse or children.
How many of your answers were related to how that person made you feel? They make me laugh. Their smile lights up my day. They make me feel like I’m the only one in the world, etc.
Even in cases where our love for people is sacrificial it’s still often rooted in what we will receive from our sacrifice. This leads to my next point.
Because worldly love is often self-centered it causes people to be manipulated by others. Think of the mother that has sacrificed her life to provide for her children, then throws her countless sacrifices back in her children’s faces when she doesn’t get her way.
Or the countless men and women that use the famous, “if you love me” line to make their spouse feel guilty or withhold their affection from people as punishment.
This all stands in stark contrast to God’s definition of love.
What is Biblical love? The Bible tells us that God is love ( 1 John 4:8). Well what does that statement mean?
The 4 Types of Love
In the Greek language, which is the language the New Testament was written, there are 4 words for love. The first 3 types of love make up worldly love.
- Storge is the love that we see between family members. It is often depicted as the love between parents and their children.
- Eros is romantic love. Eros encompasses the feeling of “being in love” or “loving” someone.
- Philia- is often described as brotherly love or affection. The love between best friends is an example of philia love and is where we get the word Philadelphia.
The final word for love is the one used the most in the New Testament, agape.
Agape (sometimes translated as charity) is defined as unconditional, sacrificial love. It is in direct opposition to worldly love.
4 Characteristics of Biblical Love
1. Not Based on Feelings or Behavior
Biblical love is not based on feelings or the behaviors of others. It is based on God’s love for us and what his son Jesus did for us on the cross.
Romans 5:10 states that while we were still God’s enemies he sent his son Jesus to reconcile us to himself.
The Bible also tells Christians to love their enemies and to do good to them without expecting to get anything back (Luke 6:35-36).
Biblical love is not based on how we feel or how people treat us, but still loving people in spite of these things.
2. Is Not Limited to Certain People
In Matthew 22:36-39 the scribes ask Jesus what is the greatest commandment. He tells them the first is to love God with all their heart and mind. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
Godly love is not limited to just our friends and family, but it is to be shared with everyone around us.
3. It is Sacrificial
As Christians, we are supposed to be Jesus’ representatives and follow in his footsteps. Jesus proved that he loved us by laying down his life for us.
John 3:16 reminds us that God loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to be a willing sacrifice so that we can be in right relationship with him.
If we follow in the steps of Jesus we should be willing to sacrifice our own wants and desires for the benefit of others.
Other characteristics of love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which is known as the love chapter.
When the Bible says that God is love, this is the type of love it’s referring to. A sacrificial love that is not based on emotions, or the behavior of others. It’s not based on conditions or requirements. There is nothing you can do to earn it nor do we deserve this type of love.
But God generously pours his love out on us, despite ourselves.
The awesome thing for Christians is we have access to God’s love.
And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Roman 5:8
Biblical love is unique to Christianity because as believers, we have the ability to pour out God’s love onto the rest of the world because God has poured his love into our hearts.
And we can share the love of God with others.
What is one thing you learned about love today? Share it with me in the comments section.
If you liked this post or found it interesting don’t forget to share it with a friend or on social media.
As always, keep Jesus in the center of everything you do.
Your Sister in Christ,