There are three words in the Greek language for love. Eros, which refers to sexual desire. Really the word eros doesn't mean love in a strictly technical sense but refers only to a basic animal instinct to copulate. The expression "make love" is a misnomer since it 's not love, it may be "making whoopee," but it's certainly not love. The word eros is not found in the Bible.
The second Greek word for love is phileo. This refers to friendship as one friend to another, brotherly love, the brotherhood of mankind, love of an object or thing. If we say we like someone or a group of people in a friendly way this would be an example of phileo love. Phileo type love is mentioned only a few times in the New Testament.
The third Greek word for love is agape. This is similar to phileo love but is of a more intense character. To the people for whom we have agape love we would use the words dear, beloved and we would be affectionate and charitable to these people. The love most often mentioned in the Bible is agape love.
Agape love has a spiritual characteristic. It is not based on sight, unlike carnal love, but is based on how we feel in our heart. We are to love God whom we have not seen.
Agape love's main characteristic is giving. It is no mistake that in the New Testament the word agape is often translated charity. If the Bible says that loving is the same as giving then by God's definition that's exactly what it is. The characteristic opposite to agape love is demanding. It's giving versus demanding. If a person gives of himself then he is a loving person. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And that's just what Jesus did for us, "...Christ died FOR us," according to Romans 5:8. Jesus gave! Jesus is a life giver! Amen? He gave his life and in so doing gave us life.
We should spend less effort looking for love and more effort being someone others can love. The love of God is unconditional. He didn't say, “if we do such and such He would love us,” Many people do not understand this and try to lay burdens on us. The fact is that God hates sin but He loves sinners. God loves us so much that even though we were at enmity with Him He gave His precious son Jesus to die for us.
Some people are not capable of loving because they can't bring themselves to give. They say, “I'm not giving away anything because I need everything I've got.” These people are often described as self-centered, demanding, selfish, and unfeeling. They are often starving for love, but what they don't understand is “if ya wanna git, ya gotta give!” If you want to be loved you’ve got to be lovable. A lovable person is a giving person. Giving is like “gifting,” giving something just because you want to, not because you owe the person. It's just that simple. This does not mean that if you give out a little love you have a right to demand a payback!
To receive is nice, but it is better to give. Receiving is not the same as loving. Giving is loving. Except in the case, for example, when someone wants to give us something, instead of refusing the gift, we accept the gift rather than deny that person the blessing of giving.
Love is characterized by giving of one's time as well as one's possessions. If a woman demands that her husband love her, then she is wasting her breath because if he loves her he will freely give his love. But if he goes through the motions just because she demands it, then she is not really the recipient of his love anyway. She, on the other hand, is not a loving person either, for if she loved him she would just give him her love with no strings attached.
It is tragic that so many people don't even know the meaning of love. Most people confuse physical attraction, the erotic drive to have sex, with love. It's understandable that so many people would be confused considering the proliferation of music that bally-hoos sex as true love. Physical attraction by itself is not love. A man may be physically attracted to a prostitute but he's not going to give her anything, he's going to pay for it. And he may get something he doesn't want. Remember that she didn't give it to him ... he paid for it. Physical attraction to the opposite sex is something we will always feel as long as we have these fleshly bodies. Oh yes, it is important that there be a physical attraction, but there must also be a growing desire to give all that one has to the other person.
Too many people are driven by peer pressure to have a good-looking boy or girlfriend, or husband or wife. Then they think of their mate as a possession and what their mate can do for them instead of what they can do for their mate. For example, "I want to marry a rich man." Or, "I want to marry a good-looking chick so I can be the envy of all my friends." Or what about this, "I know he's a jerk... but he's got a nice car."
"In THE PRINCE, a book written in the seventeenth century, the author Nicolo Machiavelli, from whom we get the word "Machiavellian," posed the question, "Is it better to be loved or feared?" Wrongly, his answer was that it is better to be feared. My question is, "Is it better to be married to a beautiful woman who sort of likes you but isn't sure if she loves you, or is it better to be married to someone who looks only so-so but who loves you completely without reservation?" My answer is that it is better to be loved completely without reservation than to be married to someone who only sort of likes you, no matter what either of them looks like. It is better to be loved than to be respected, feared, envied, esteemed, or famous.
After marriage many people say, "Now you're mine." But the truth is that we never own someone. We can never say, "You're mine." We can only say, "I'm yours. I give myself to you." But if someone gives himself or herself to you, you still don't own them.
If you're married to a person who doesn't love you, that person may be attracted to some person other than yourself. Your fear of their infidelity will make your life miserable. To prevent that person from being unfaithful to you, you will feel that you must control them. The method employed in controlling the other person may involve physical or mental abuse. Physical abuse involves violence or the threat of violence. When you use violence any hope of happiness for either of you will disappear. Now you're demanding, not loving. You may be able to force a person to remain faithful, but you cannot force a person to love you. The more you try to force them to love you, the more they will hate you.
Mental abuse takes many forms of manipulation, and mind games, but commonly it involves inferences that the other person would be helpless without you. This leads to feelings of low self-esteem and subsequent unhappiness. We're supposed to make our loved ones happy, not unhappy!
Love means giving. If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was. This is what Jesus did with us. He gave his life FOR us by dying on the cross FOR us. This set us free from the law of sin and death, if we accept Him and what He did FOR us. He didn't claim us as his possessions, He set us free. We can do anything we want. We don't have to give our lives to him. We don't owe Jesus anything. But if we love him, we will come to Jesus and surrender all.
I Corinthians 7:1-16
I Corinthians 11:3-15
I Corinthians 13: The entire chapter.
Ephesians 5:22-33, I John 4:7-21