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Numerous Biblical words have been wordnapped, hijacked, redefined, and misused (e.g., grace, faith, miracle, elect, foreordained). Love is another of these much-abused words. The most frequently occurring Greek word for love in the New Testament is agape—one’s unselfish seeking of the best for its object without regard for the object’s worthiness. This highest form of love is the love God demonstrated to mankind in giving His Son (John 3:16). By seeing what love is not, we will be better able to understand what it is.
- Not mere words: The apostle John noted this fact: “My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). John does not forbid verbal expressions of love, but he observes that mere words do not prove its existence. The proof of love is in what we do more than in what we say. Paul wrote: “Let love be without hypocrisy” (Rom. 12:9).
- Not mere emotion: “Agape” love involves one’s emotions, but it goes beyond mere sentimentality and affection. These are noble feelings that we should cultivate toward others, but until they are expressed in loving deeds, they remain mere feelings or emotions. Love is not feeling and/or emotion, but the appropriate sincere expression of such. “Agape” love may exist in the absence of feeling, emotion, or affection.
- Not mere lust or sexual fulfillment: The entertainment industry has so corrupted love that love and sex are practically synonyms to the masses. While “to make love” to one’s companion was an innocent reference to courtship fifty years ago, it now means to engage in sexual intercourse with him/her. God created us with sexual instincts and desires, the fulfillment of which are honorable in God approved marriages (Heb. 13:4a). However, outside of Scriptural marriage, sexual fulfillment constitutes fornication, whose practitioners God will judge (v. 4b). The very fabric of our nation’s morals and families has been grievously weakened by this polluted misconception of love.
- Not a license to sin or freedom from law: This liberal idea has become prevalent in recent years. Parents “love” a child too much to restrain or punish him. Preachers “love” their brethren too much to rebuke or correct them. Many folk opine that God “loves” us too much to condemn us or hold us responsible to His law. Loving parents discipline their children (Pro. 13:24), as does a loving God (Heb. 12:6). God’s love does not free us from His law.
[Note: I wrote this article for and it appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton, TX, May 2, 2008].
Attribution: From thescripturecache.com; Dub McClish, owner and administrator