Ever so often you and I would hear words like, ‘I love you,’ or ‘I will always love you.’ They may come from your spouse, a child, a family member, a close friend and on the very rare occasion, from a total stranger. But what really is the measure of a man’s love? How do you really know if someone meant what they said and said what they meant? Is it possible that when that person said ‘I love you,’ they really meant quite the opposite. The answers to these and other related questions, for decades have been the subject of much debate, especially that we find ourselves living in a world that at times seem filled with hate.
There are tools and instruments to measure so many other things. When the meteorologist need to know and subsequently report on the weather, he must first use the anemometer which measures the wind speed. A related instrument called the vane or weather vane determines the wind direction. You measure humidity with a hygrometer. You go to the doctor’s office and your heart is checked with his stethoscope, your blood pressure is measured by his sphygmomanometer, and your body temperature with his thermometer.
On the other hand there are those that by whom you can tell that their love is genuine. Their love is authentic. Your experience with the love that flows from such a heart is serene, it is peaceable, pure, passionate and it is euphoric! And so, as we seek for truth of what true love and no greater love is from God’s standpoint, I would discuss it from the perspective giving the three types of love that we would all experience in life in one form or another.
The Three Types of Love
The truth about what love is, is that there are three types of love.
(1) Eros love – this is known as “erotic love.” The inherent weakness of this type of love is that while it has a strong feeling for the other person, it is more concerned with ‘self,’ ‘self-fulfilment,’ and ‘self-benefit’ (what’s in it for me?) rather than the other person. It is given purely on the basis of what the condition is like for that particular moment in time. It usually occurs in the very first stages of a man-woman “romantic” relationship.
It is a love based more on physical traits, driven by sight of the outward appearance of another person. It says, ‘I love you meaning , because you have a good looking (shapely) body, the sex is great, it makes me feel good and it makes me feel happy.’ The hidden danger is that when perception becomes reality and that individual no longer feels happy any more in loving the other person, he/she is led to believe that he/she has fallen out of love, when the truth is there was never true love in the first place. The fact is, feelings alone cannot be called true love by God’s standard, simply because they did not take the time to know each other that much yet. Over-relying on pure emotion and mere physical appearance without the balance of logic is a recipe in itself for disaster.
(2) Philos love – a love based on friendship between two people. It gives while it receives where the two persons benefit each other in a mutually respective way. One person is concerned with what he/she can get from the relationship, but at the same time is also concerned with his/her partner’s benefit, and therefore gives back in return.
Genuine friendship is the foundation of a successful relationship. This is true whether it is in marriage, a boyfriend-girlfriend, relationship between family members, relationship with co-workers and employers etc. In the case of a man-woman romantic relationship, the advantage is you get to know each other first, before committing to a more serious relationship above friendship such as marriage. It is true then when two persons that start out by being friends first before becoming romantic partners, usually are the relationship that lasts more, on a long term basis.
(3) Agape love – unconditional love! It is the third and the greatest love of all. It is a love that is totally selfless, where a person gives out of pure love to another person, and even if it is not reciprocated or beneficial to him/her in any way, the person continues to love. It never magnifies another’s faults or weaknesses but find ways to cover them. This is the God kind of love.
God’s love was expressed to us the most when He the Father sent His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to His suffering and eventual death on the cross for our salvation. There is no greater love than this. (John 15:13) Jesus had no obligation to do it for us, but He chose to do it. It is His gift to mankind, His ultimate gift. He chose to die for us because He and the Father knew beforehand what would become of us if we were left on our own. No man by his/her own means can redeem himself. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, mankind is doomed to eternal damnation and no souls will be able to enter eternal life in heaven.
It is this same selfless kind of love that God desires us to have for one another. It is a command from Him that we love each other. (John 15: 12,17) It is what identifies us first to God and the world as His disciples, that is, disciples of Christ. True love is not mere words but is followed by an action that satisfies and esteem each other. (1 John 3: 18) “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed (action) and in truth.”
First Corinthians 13: 4-8 provides a perfect description of Agape. It is therefore God’s measuring ‘yardstick’ by which one can tell the true Agape, unconditional love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is 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.”
In summary, Eros love can be then classified as “physical,” Philos love, as “mental,” and Agape love as “spiritual.” The love that last is the love that must be conceived (born) from above, meaning it begins with the spiritual, it begins with having an intimate relationship first with God which is then demonstrated through the physical of how we relate to and love each other. There is no greater love than this, it is the love that will never fail.
This is an article that was written and published in May 2012 in my Devotionals For Today page/website. But with all that is happening around us on issues pertaining to love, marriage and relationships in general, the burden is upon me to share it with you again today. Trust you receive a blessing from reading it.