Posted by: Ety W. | April 26, 2008

Love: More Than a Feeling?

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise… Titus 2:2-3a

Choose the correct answer. Love in the above verses means to:
1. help and serve others through good works
2. be friendly and try to like everybody
3. continue to be sexually active in old age
4. put family first

The answer one chooses depends upon how one interprets “love.” Since all these possible answers are taken from the four Greek words for love: agape (sacrificial, unconditional love), philia (affection amongst friends), eros (physical attraction and passion), and storge (love of family), any one of them could be correct. To know which, I need to know what word was used in the original Greek text. [Hint: only agape and philia are used in the New Testament.] That means I’ll have to roll up my sleeves, pull out my Strong’s Concordance, and do a word study.

Love – Strong’s 26 – αγαπη – agape = affection or benevolence. Rendered charity in the KJV. Used 116 times in the New Testament. Zodhiates1 expands that definition, saying “it is God’s willful direction toward man. It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires.” And from Vines2 (quoting Hogg & Vine), “Christian love… is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all and works no ill to any, love seeks the opportunity to do good…”

As Christians, we can best understand agape in the sense of John 3:16; God loving the world enough to sacrifice His beloved Son for it. However, it is difficult to understand agape in terms of human application, because it is hard for us to separate the concept of love from feeling and emotion. In looking at the Lord’s sacrifice for us, we see in Mark 14:36 that as willing as He was, Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the cross. As with faith, we need to understand that love is an action based on obedience to God’s word rather than to our feelings.

But how do we do something that seems so contrary to human nature? I Corinthians 13:4-8a offers a practical explanation:

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…. I Cor. 13:4-8a

These actions are choices we can make regardless of how we feel. For example, I can choose to be patient with another person. I can choose to be kind. I can choose to not elevate myself by bragging about how important or accomplished I am. I can choose to not keep track of how many times they’ve offended me. I can choose to not gloat over their misfortunes. I can choose to not let them get my goat. In other words, these are things I can do no matter how I feel.

Easy? No way! But then, whoever said Christianity was for wimps? Success all boils down to who’s in control, you or your emotions?

But what if the person doesn’t deserve my agape? The answer to this points back to faith, i.e., a willingness to trust God enough to be obedient to His Word whether the recipient of my service and sacrifice deserves it or not. It means literally following Jesus’ example.

The bottom line? Soundness in love is proof of our Christianity. It proves that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said it Himself.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Content copyright 2008 by If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.
Next … Circumstances Getting You Down?

1 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 1992), p.66

2 W .E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and Willian White, Jr., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, New York, 1985), p. 382


  1. Hi Again:

    I was actually planning to post on the subject of love soon, so your post in of great interest to me.

    In fact, rather than spend a lot of time putting it out in a comment, I’m right now going to begin the post.

    Thanks for your message!

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