My cat Twila has always had a love for birds. It is not the type of love that would allow her to live in a community with birds, the kind of love that creates an appetite. In January, I read a Facebook post informing me that soaking up bacon grease with oats would feed birds in the winter. Being a lover of the environment, I followed the instructions and put the oats out on the back deck rail for the birds to eat. The birds loved the oats. They came and went all day happily enjoying their snack. The problem was it drove Twila crazy. She wanted those birds in a desperate way. Not in a Christ-like love as we should, but a destructive way. For Twila to love like Christ, her nature would have to change, like many of ours.
Loving others is not always easy. Actually, sometimes, it can be difficult. According to the Bible, there are three types of love: philia (friendship), eros (romantic), and agape (unconditional love).
Philia love seems to be talked about the least but should not be minimized. The brotherly love for your brothers and sisters in Christ is so important. It keeps us living in a community with each other. It’s the type of love that comes into play when tragedy strikes or a natural disaster. We feel terrible for our neighbors and want to lend a helping hand. Philia is the type of love that encourages and wants the best for each other. It is not a jealous love; it is a rejoicing love that celebrates when a long-awaited goal is attained.
Eros is the type of love that we all dream of, but we have a distorted image. Eros or romantic love is exploited in magazines, commercials, and movies. This distortion has put sex or lust in the place of eros.
How to tell if it is lust or love?
- Lust focuses on self (Gal 5:13) – love focuses on the other (Phil 2:4)
- Lust leads to frustration (Jas 4:2) – love leads to fulfillment (Eph 3:19-20)
- Lust continually wants more (Eph 4:18-19) – love bring satisfaction (Heb 12:11)
- Lust enslaves self (Rom 6: 16, 10) – love encourages self-control (I Cor 9:27)
- Lust desires to gratify the sinful nature with things contrary to the Spirit (Gal 5:17) – love desires to live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16)
- Lust excluded Christ (Rom 1:28-29) – love includes Christ (Rom 3:14)
- Lust entices with evil desires (Jas 1:14) – love prevents sin (Gal 5:14-15)
- Lust wars against the soul (I Pet 2:11) – love nourishes the soul (I Thes 5:23)
- Lust avoids commitment that leads to tragedy (Prov 6:25-26) – love commits to one another (Gal 5:13)
Agape love is what we strive for, God’s unconditional love. This type of love is seen in God’s love for the church. Love is not about how much you say, “I love you.” It is about how much you prove it to be true. Actions speak louder than words. Jesus loved us so much that He willingly went to the cross to die for our sins. Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice; it wasn’t half-hearted – He gave it all!
It’s hard to change our very nature, but that is what God is asking us to do. We are to become more Christ-like. The Apostle Paul tells us, “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). We are to die to our flesh daily, take up our cross and follow Him. Twila’s nature most likely will never change, but with the strength provided by the Holy Spirit, we have hope that ours will. How’s your love life today? Is it like it was last year … or is it being transformed?