By Myrna Conrad
February is the month that we celebrate Valentine’s Day – a day where we purchase a special gift or card to express our love for someone. Even though the day will be celebrated on February 14 by many people, the world seems to still be filled with people expressing anger and hatred toward one another. James addresses this inconsistency in God’s Word as follows: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:9-10 NIV
Given all of the discord, dismissiveness, anger and hatred evidenced around us, we might ask the question, “Whatever happened to love?” Why do we go out of our way to find a way to express love on this day and not every other day? What does love even mean?
Merriam Webster defines love as “a strong or constant affection for a person. “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” is the definition found on www.dictionary.com. The Cambridge dictionary describes love as “liking another adult very much and being romantically attracted to them or having strong feelings of liking a friend or person in your family.”
The words “I love you” can be said to many different people and the meanings can vary widely. Many people struggle to define and understand love. We all want to be able to express love and we want to be loved.
God’s Word tells us that God is love and that we humans crave love from the moment of existence. However, the emotion of love holds differing degrees of intensity. Four forms of love are found in God’s Word, coming from four Greek words: Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape. Eros describes romantic love that two people feel for each other and we express as being “in love.” The Greek word Storge describes the affectionate bond that forms between parent and child, and between siblings. The word Philia is used to describe the deep emotional bonds found in friendship. Agape is the highest form of love and describes the immeasurable, unchangeable love that God has for His creation, mankind. This kind of love was demonstrated by Jesus when He gave His life for us.
All of these definitions and words center around a person’s feelings. Feelings come and go and that, I believe, is why committed love is so elusive in our society today. While love is a feeling, I believe lasting love is a choice followed by an action. Most of the time, people are seeking love to fulfill something within themselves, to fulfill their needs. However, when we experience the agape love of God, our need for love is fulfilled and we can love others by focusing on their needs. As I said before, feelings fluctuate, they change with the situation, but when we practice committed love with our actions, the feeling of love will come back even stronger.
You’ve heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” This definitely applies to love. So, how can we better love those around us?
Be aware of the discrepancy between what you say you feel and how you act.
Realize that love is a choice and an action, not just a feeling.
Think about the way you use the word “love” and make sure you aren’t replacing the word “like” with “love.”
When you are feeling frustrated with someone, choose to love them.
Don’t just express words of love, express your love through your actions.
Try to find ways to express your love toward those who are important to you every day, not just on special occasions.
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