We have fellowship with Christ in His love. What He loves we love. He loves the saints — so do we. He loves sinners — so do we. He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see earth’s deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord — so do we.
—Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
Week 5: Bible Memory Verse
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 ESV
Day 1: One Word for Love?
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 ESV
I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way I began to equate love with work. Maybe it was my people-pleaser mentality mixed with a feeling of never being or doing enough. For me, if you wanted someone to love you, you had to earn it. Treat them right, be kind, do nice things for them, work to make their life better. I approached God’s love the same way. Even though I heard others talk about grace. I didn’t get it, didn’t really believe it. God’s love was something to be earned and I tried with all my might. Go to church, read your Bible, pray, be kind to others, help those in need, and on… and on… and on. It was a never ending cycle that left me guilt ridden and weary.
Accepting He loves me just because is still a struggle at times, and in this moment I’m still learning.
“I love you.” These are the words my dad told me every night when I was a little girl. He’d come tuck me in bed, scratch my back, and say, I love you.
My parents weren’t perfect. No parents are. But I believe they did this one thing right. They voiced their love for me over and over. So even when their actions might not speak love to my heart. I had their words, “I love you.”
The English definition of love in Merriam-Webster’s has nine parts, some with sub-parts. It’s long and diverse. Here’s part of it:
love noun… 1 a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties… (2): attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests… b: an assurance of love 2: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion, or admiration… 3 a: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration… b (1): a beloved person: darling… 4 a: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1): the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2): brotherly concern for others b: a person’s adoration of God
—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)
Talk about a squishy word. How do we know which love people mean when they say: I love you? Primarily we understand meaning from context, but sometimes that’s just not enough.
Hebrew has at least two words for love. One is almost as diverse as our love. ‘Ahab covers human love for one another, including family and sexual love. It’s also used for the things we have an appetite for: food, drink, sleep wisdom. The love of a friend or lover and God’s love toward man are also covered under the definition of ‘ahab. Then there is hesed, goodness, kindness, faithfulness. Most often translated in the Old Testament as steadfast love or unfailing love (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). But the Greeks! They have four words for love.
- Storge – connoting natural affection between relatives (Tyndale Bible Dictionary). Cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
- Phileo – meaning natural affection, its root is used in philadelphia for brotherly love and philia meaning friendship (Tyndale Bible Dictionary).
- Agape – specifically means to love the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection; though it has more to do with moral principle than inclination or liking, it never means the cold religious kindness shown from duty alone (Tyndale Bible Dictionary)
- Eros – sexual love (Tyndale Bible Dictionary). Physical, sensual love (The Power of Love).
Because English only has one word for love, we often miss the many different nuances of love in Scripture. This week we’ll look at the different aspects of God’s love and what they mean to us. God displays all the different Greek loves except eros.
Eros symbolizes fulfillment (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament). This is the love that loves only what makes us feel good and satisfies. This is the love of our culture. The love that leads to spouses leaving families because: I just don’t love you anymore. The love that manipulates and stalks, If I can’t have you, no one can have you kind of love. An all-consuming fickle love leaving behind a wake of destruction and heartbreak. God is never this love. Eros is born from the heart of human brokenness and corrupt emotion.
God loves perfectly. Never for His own benefit, but always for the benefit of that which He loves:
- God the Father loves us as His children: storge.
- Jesus loves us as Friend: phileo.
- The Spirit blesses us with God’s unfailing love: agape.
For God so loved, He created the world to share His love.
Read Psalm 136:1-9. What do you see at the heart of His creation?
Out of His steadfast, unfailing love He created. And in the creating He gave us the ability to love so we can know the blessing of a close personal relationship with our Creator.
We are, because He loves.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Recall your first memories of being loved. What does it mean for you to be loved?
Talk it over with God:
Ask Him to reveal His unconditional love for you.
He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever. He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever. He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:23-25 NLT
Exercise Your Faith
Name two things today which revealed God’s love for you.
Give thanks for God’s love.
We ________________ because He first loved _________. 1John 4:19