When we talk about or discuss love, many interpretations come to our mind because the concept is a strong name that strikes the emotion of people. It is not the fault of anybody. The reason is that the name LOVE is configured with serious emotion, and it is spiritual that transpired to the mind and thought of the opposite sex.
What Resources say about love
The English language, though usually rich and expressive, has only one word for ‘love’. This, of course, is ‘love’. This word means:
An intense feeling of deep affection; a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone; a great interest and pleasure in something (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
Here is the difficulty. Firstly, feelings are ephemeral; they come and go depending on our mood (Here today and gone tomorrow). Secondly, if we love something (I love my new dress; I love Coke), it is hardly the lifelong binding commitment the bible talks about.
We can gain deeper insights into the meaning of love by looking at some Greek and Hebrew translations of the word.
There are at least five Hebrew words for love in the Old Testament and two more words that are related.
Ahab: to love, to have affection for (can be sexual), a friend
Dowd: to boil, to love, love token, lover, well-beloved
Chashaq: to cling, to join, to love, to delight in, to desire, long for
Rackham: to fondle, to love, lo have, compassion (for) to show mercy
Agrabah: inordinate (forbidden) love
The other two related words are daba and chesed.
Daba: to follow hard after, to cling to, to adhere to, to be joined together.
Chesed: usually translated as ‘mercy’, its wider meaning is ‘unfailing love, loyal covenant-keeping love, kindness, tenderness, mercy-compassion.
So we have love, affection, friendship, delight, desire, compassion, mercy, and tenderness. These are components of any love but married love has the additional blessings of sexual fulfillment and it is protected by covenant.
There are four words for love in Greek.
Eros: sexual love
Phileo: companionship and friendship
Agape: self-giving and forgiving love
Erroneous Mind about our life-partner
Most of us start marriages equipped only with eros (sexual affection) and philia (human affection). Many of us were convinced that our life partner was perfect and our love would carry us through any difficulties.
We soon flounder; we become offended, disillusioned, and hurt. We retreat, react, and raise barricades. This is when we need to yield ourselves to the radiance and permanence of God’s covenant ‘agape’ love.
‘God so ‘agaped’ the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3: 16)
What love means
It has been understood in the bible that love never gives up, love cares more for others than for self, and love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love does not strut; does not have a swelled head, does not force itself on others, and is not always ‘me first, love does not fly off the handle, it does not keep a score of the sins of others, does not reveal when others grovel, takes pleasure in the truth; puts up with anything, trusts God always and always looks for the best, love never looks back but keeps on going to the end and it never dies.
The New King James puts it like this: ‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.
It is paramount that husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us… So husbands ought to love their wives as their bodies; He who loves his wife loves himself.
We need Agape love because Agape love is death to self and selfishness. That means dying to our preferences, rights, and desires; ‘laying down our lives for our marriage partner.
Agape love is costly. Ultimately it cost Jesus His life. Agape love means forgiving the unforgivable. It is to admire and respect one’s spouse with the same love, admiration, and respect one gives to God. Agape love trusts and accepts. Agape love never fails.
It can believe in the unbelievable and forgive the unforgivable. It can endure to the end. It can withstand every assault and onslaught; it turns duty into delight. It keeps the flame of love forever burning. Agape love keeps marriages powerful; keeps partnerships fruitful and effective and what is more, it is FUN!
The problem is that we humans simply do not have such magnificent love. This is divine love. It is God-given love, and if we ask Him, He will give us His agape love.
Marriage is a calling
One day, God gave me this picture that marriage is a calling. My very first calling in life is to be like Jesus to my husband. My second calling is to be like Jesus to my children.
He told me that in heaven He has an entire RESERVOIR of LOVE for my husband. All I need to do is to surrender myself to God to be a CONSULT through which He, Almighty God, can pour the love He has for my husband.
Easy! God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light! Love is not difficult. It is a gift from God to those who are willing to pay the price and receive it.
Marriage is a calling. It is our first calling. Our life partner is the most precious gift God gave us. They are our best friend, lover, confidant, prayer partner, and the one who is always there for us. The measure we love that person is equal to the measure we love God. (1 John 4: 7-11, 20, 21)
A change of orientation about love
Moreover, love is a command and not an optional extra. It is not a feeling or a reaction. It is AN ACT OF WILL.
A new commandment I gave to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are My disciples if you love for one another.; (John 13:34, 35)
Finally, some fragments from Christ’s last prayer before the cross.
…that they all may be one… that they are one just as We are one that they may be made perfect in one. (John 17:21-23)