Taken a a lot from C.S. Lewis and a lot of other smarter guys than me…
There is this word that we throw around a lot called LOVE. But, what is love? (and I’ll try and resist going into the Haddaway song)
The English language is so complex, and yet, so limiting in what we say. Like the word “praise”. The Hebrew language has 7 different words for praise, depending on what type of praise.
Well, the same is true of LOVE. The Greek language has 4 different words for love: Agape, Phileo, Eros, Storge. I wanted to take a few minutes here and talk about what each of the different words mean, and why when i say “I love you” to one of my best friends, it is different than when i say “I love you” to my parents, and how that is different than when i will say “I love you” to my wife (when i have one).
So let’s start with Eros. I want to start here, because I think this is one of the most common definitions we in America use for love. We actually get the word Erotic from the Greek word Eros. What Eros means is a romantic love, like that of a husband and wife. This is what gives us the desire for sex with our spouse, to hold them, to cuddle with them. Eros is a love that finds its ultimate fulfillment in marriage.
The next one I want to talk about is Phileo, the next most common. This is often called brotherly love (side bar, this is where we get Philadelphia from, and why Philly is the city of brotherly love). Phileo can develop between two friends who have gone through life together. This is the type of love when you say “I love you” to your best friend who has been there through fire and hell.
Third, I want to talk about Storge. Storge is like a family love, a love of a parent and child. This love is instinctual, but also develops over time. Storge expresses itself in loyalty to the family and looking past each other’s faults. Storge is expressed in respecting and honouring others.
Lastly, I want to talk about Agape, my favorite kind. The kind that I pray God gives me every day for every one I meet. Agape is an unconditional love, and this is, in my opinion, the best love, and I think in Jesus’ opinion too, in John 15:13 he says,“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Wow. NO GREATER LOVE!!! Agape is not earned, and can never be un-earned. It is not a response to something someone does for you or a feeling inside. It is a force within you that makes you act to help, save, give or sacrifice, so that someone else may benefit. This is how God loves. Agape sees past color and race, past faith and beliefs, past support for football teams that aren’t the Eagles. This love is hardcore. Agape expects no reward; no payback. You love with agape because you can’t help it; it flows out of you. We love this way because we were made in God’s image and this is how God loves.
I want to end by saying that you can feel more than one type of love for a person. For example I feel both Phileo and Agape for many of my best friends. I will probably feel Eros and Agape for my wife, and when I have kids, I will probably feel Storge and Agape for them. I believe (and this is just my opinion, i have no real biblical base other than God=Agape, that all of the other 3 loves, should also include agape, and for those who you don’t love with the other 3, you should love with Agape. Agape should be your base on which to build the other 3 loves.
That’s all I have to say on that…