What is Love?
Love may be the most misunderstood and and confusing word in the English language. What one person means by love is not often what another person means by love. It is often not even what the same person means by love when they say it in different contexts. Some will say, “love is like a puppy.” How exactly does that even help to define such a complex idea. Others will say, “love is all we need,” but they don’t define what that love is. Love has many different aspects and levels of meaning.
Romance is important, but sacrifice and commitment is a completely different kind of love.
Sacrificial love is the basis of consideration and caring. While, in English, the word ‘love’ is often used to mean many very different things, it can be very helpful to look at four different Greek words for four different kinds of love. Eros, is the Greek word for romantic love, while Philo is the Greek word for brotherly love. A third word is Agape, which is a sacrificial type of love that can only be fully expressed when we are allowing God’s love to be channeled through us. A fourth Greek word for love is Storge, which is the instinctual love that a child has for a parent.
Now the reason that it is important to understand these different aspects of the word ‘love’ is so that we can clearly understand the difference between a giving or sacrificial type of love and a taking kind of love, which really is not love at all. Young people often say, “I am in love.” What they mean is that they are infatuated with a person. They may have happy and good feelings that are sometimes associated with love. But the feelings are not love. For a marriage to thrive and be beautiful, the way it was intended, each person must realize that even though it is easier to focus on what they want, mature love is when the needs of the other person are considered as more important than my own. It doesn’t mean that one’s own needs are not important. Consider the words in the bible, “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.” When we think like that and have that attitude, we will be better listeners and more pleasant spouses. For more on this topic, you may want to see, “Givers, Takers and other kinds of Lovers” by Josh McDowell.