Today is Valentine's Day. I don't have anyone to celebrate with, since the day is really all about romantic love, but I always get my wonderful daughter, Melody, something as a nice little way to tell her I love her. Today, it was a giant brownie with icing and a Happy Valentine's Day message. I also got her a GIGANTIC card. It also meant that I could have a little bit of her brownie, which is one of my favorite desserts. Don't tell her I had some...I had to sneak it.
During my short married life, my wife, Teresa, and I celebrated Valentine's Day in the requisite way, but I intentionally proposed marriage to her on February 13 so we would have that as our own little day of romance and remembrance each year. I loved sending flowers to her at the school she worked at on the day before Valentine's Day, before everyone else got theirs. She loved it and I hoped she would feel special. Including the day after our engagement, which was our first Valentine's Day together, we had five more before her death and homegoing. Since then, I've only ever dated over Valentine's Day one other time, and that was with a young lady I dated several years ago. In fact, Valentine's Day ended up being our last date before we broke up, so the day doesn't have a whole lot of special meaning for me, given that the break up did not go well.
As today rolled around, I was thinking about love. The Bible speaks about three different kinds of love, and uses the Greek words for them. There are actually four different Greek meanings for love. They are:
- Eros - this word refers to sexual love, and is named for the Greek god of love. It is not found in the New Testament.
- Storge - this word refers to familial love, and is more of a natural affection between kinfolk.
- Phileo - this refers to friendship, and the deep affection that develops due to strong sentiment and fondness.
- Agape - this word appears the most in the Bible, and it refers to God's love, or a love that comes from a moral goodwill. This is unconditional love. It is captured wonderfully in the verse in John 13: 34-35 - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
We are so fortunate to have Agape love from the Lord, and because He commanded us to love one another, that should be our goal, to love one another unconditionally.
Eros love is a rather selfish kind of love, and is what is cultivated from our attraction to someone else. My wife and I experienced eros for each other, but it was joined by the phileo, as well as agape, as our relationship deepened. Real love has to be a combination of the different kinds of love in order to make for a healthy relationship.
Phileo is actually defined by a "give-and-take" kind of relationship, which makes it sound more shallow than I think it should be. If only one side is experiencing this phileo, then it may not last very long. A healthy friendship is going to be the combination of phileo and agape. Those types of relationships are special and should be cherished. I feel very honored and appreciative of these relationships, as they involve a great deal of trust and understanding, and they result in very deep and meaningful conversation and correspondence.
So on this Valentine's Day, I hope you are able to experience some of these different types of love, though you should know that God's love for us trumps all others. If you don't have a relationship with Him, he is waiting for you, and offers it to you unconditionally, if you only let him into your heart.
Have a great evening, everyone!