People have bought into the lie that you need to be "in love" or romantically involved to be content and happy. The truth is, it's a difficult mindset to be free of. I can't deny that my thinking has gone this route before.
This mindset has led people to make terrible, often soul-costing decisions in their lives. I believe that a lot of it has to do with a great misunderstanding of love. Even religious people have fallen into this trap.
Many who do believe in God often try to make justification for why they should be in a relationship that the bible says is wrong. In their minds they say, "God is a God of love. So I should love whomever I want. He wants me to be happy, right?"
God is a God of love, right? Yes. (1 John 4:8, 16) And, as stated in the previous article of this series, happiness on earth isn't to be the end goal of the Christian. It is to honor God and to find happiness at the end of our lives here.
Back onto the subject of love. I believe many do have a skewed definition of love. Part of that may be because of how our language is. What do I mean? Well, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek language has many words to describe different kinds of love. We only have one word that describes them all.
Examples of the Greek love include:
- Eros (sexual/romantic)
- Storge (family)
- Philia (brotherly love/deep friendship)
- Agape (self-sacrificial)
It may surprise you that the only two mentioned in the New Testament are "Philia" and "Agape". Even in the verses referring to the relationship of a husband and wife, "agape" is the term for love used. (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19)
Since we only have one word to describe all these things, it can make sense that there is some confusion about the subject. We must be careful in merging societal ideals with the word of God.
Agape love is a completely unselfish love. It means putting others needs before your own. We saw this in our savior when he washed His disciples' feet (John 13:1-17). We also saw it when He was scourged, tortured, and mocked (1 John 3:16).
In 1st Corinthians 13, the chapter describes in depth what "Agape" love is:
"Love is patient, and kind. Love does not envy. Love does not behave rudely, and is not selfish. It is not easily angered, and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in sin but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."-1st Corinthians 13:4-8
Go back and read that verse again, replacing "love" with "Agape", and remember what it means. It gives you a whole new perspective on God's definition of love, doesn't it? When interpreting God's word, word studies can be quite helpful in coming to the meaning of a passage (history can help as well). This is no exception.
This idea of love is pretty different from how much of the world views it. People make the excuse that they should be with who they want because God is love-but this idea of love is clearly not biblical. You can especially see how that gets blown out of the water when you read verse six: "Love does not rejoice in sin, but rejoices in the truth."
In view of eternity, romantic love means little. People think that if they can't be with or find that right person, or "soul-mate" you life will be miserable. Even in the religious world, the idea is often pushed that if you just wait on God, He'll send the right person. God created marriage to be a beautiful and fulfilling relationship, but it isn't required. We see so many single people who were powerhouses in the work of the Lord-such as the Apostle Paul, for instance.
One thing that many miss and forget (I've forgotten it too) that there is absolutely nothing greater than God's love. Nothing (Romans 8:38-39, John 3:16). When you throw yourself into a relationship with God, He will never let you down. Even if you do find that "special someone", putting God first will help you love them even more.
In our world, people mistake that romantic feeling of love/lust for real love. Just because something "feels good" does not mean you are entitled to it. It may make you feel exhilarated or good to be with someone, but that doesn't make it right. Feeling that you are entitled to something is pride ("love isn't proud" 1 Cor. 13:4). People today are doing the same as in the time of the judges in the Old Testament. People do "whatever seemed right in their own eyes" (Judges 17:6, 21:25).
God is the ultimate good. Trying to find complete happiness in earthly things will only be temporary. Whether you want to admit it, things that are defined as sin in God's word will have consequences-here and in eternity. God is the only constant there is and He will never let you down. Sure there are bad things in this world, but He will help you through them. (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10) All He asks is for you to love Him with "all your heart, soul, and mind" (Mark 12:30). And, if you do love Him, obey Him (John 14:15). This brings joy (John 15:10-11).
It is incredibly difficult to break away from the world's mindset on things and to not fuse them with what God's word says. But with a humble and obedient heart, one can ask God to help them separate fact from fiction in study. Love is no exception.