Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning to Love

Note: This week’s three posts are an extended response to a comment from Russell Holloway (who consistently makes me think hard) on Foundations Part II, in which Russell asserts that love for God and love for man cannot exist apart from one another.

“Love cannot be forced, love cannot be coaxed and teased.
It comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.”
~ Pearl Buck

Learning to Love

We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
~ 1 John 4:19-21 (NKJV)

If we must first learn to be loved before we can love, then does it follow that we learn to love those whom we see before we learn to love Him Who is unseen?

Yes. And no.

We first learn to love those we see, but it is a selfish love. We love them for who they are to us, what they are to us, and what they do for us.

Yesterday’s example was an infant, learning love the Greek language calls storge, or natural, family love. Today’s example is a wife, who receives a husband’s eros love. While eros is often defined for its physically sensual dimension, it is far more. It involves a passion which appreciates the beauty within a person. The philosopher Plato (from whom the term “platonic” love comes) said that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to understanding of spiritual truth.

A husband might love his wife with eros love because she belongs to him and he to her in a unique and lifelong relationship of unity. He may love her because she is his companion and advisor with phila (brotherly love, or friendship love). He may love her with storge love for the physical sustenance she provides by bearing his children, feeding his stomach and keeping his house.

But until any one of us comes to know the agape love of God, our incomplete love for another—including love for God—will always be no greater than our appreciation for how that person relates to me, myself and I. Whatever love we learn for others and express to them, we cannot love others simply for who they are apart from us until we know God’s unconditional, sacrificial, unlimited agape love. In experiencing God’s love and learning to love Him, we learn how to truly love others.

And in loving others with such agape love, we are making more complete our love for God. Apart from loving others with agape love, the Bible says we do not truly love God. The two are fully dependent upon each another.

As beautiful as eros love is, it cannot rise to agape love in its fullness.

Lord Jesus, please use the storge, eros and philia love we understand to teach us the agape love which is known only through You. Please fill our hearts with Your agape love until it spills over back to You and to others.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Pictured: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor from the movie "Taming of the Shrew" © 1967 Sony Pictures


  1. I want to spill His love over and over to as many people as I possibly can.

  2. I am still learning.

  3. Denise ~ I TOTALLY get that!

    Natasa ~ We will all be learning until the day we see His face. I'm changing the text of my post to make more clear the excellent point you make.

  4. That word is flung around so often. I'm thankful you explained the richness and potency of agape love. It is a transcending, overarching love.
    ~ Wendy

  5. Thank you for "Sharing" ... :-) Today I will meditate on how learning to let God's agape love flow through us to others, brings us closer to God and helps us become more like Jesus.

  6. I too am still learning. Agape love requires much more from us than storge, eros, and philia ~ it gives the most. I would agree it is known only through Jesus ~ Christ in us.

  7. There is something in me that wants a deeper love of all things. I want to experience a love that is beyond words or actions. I want to feel that from a woman, from my children and from my brothers and sisters. That unspoken, beyond emotion love...

  8. I appreciate this word study of Love. I am reminded again, that without God, I am incapable of agape.

  9. Great insights. Thank you Anne.

  10. Wendy ~ You're right. "Love" is flung about so freely that it's more difficult to make its meaning heard. So if we're determined, we find a way.

    Russell ~ Somehow I suspect you'd be thinking about that anyway. : )

    Patty ~ If agape gives the most, then wouldn't it be most blessed to giver also? "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

    Jennifer ~ I appreciate what you're saying. Even when we know it, we need to remind one another.

    Jason ~ Thanks! And thanks for being here.

  11. David ~

    I caught your comment this morning, and it's haunted me all day. Part of my reply to you is tomorrow's post. But there's so much more I'd say about learning to love—so much more than I can fit here.

    I know too little of Plato to know if he knew the Bible or not. Yet I believe he understood something vital, caught in his words about eros love which say that it recalls knowledge of beauty, and contributes to understanding of spiritual truth. He understood that eros love stretched toward a greater love—a love of another, higher place. Even perfect eros love (if such a thing existed) would be only a shadow of the agape love we can know from God. All love of this world simply points us to the only One Who satisfies our heart's cry.

    If God were any less, it would be selfish of Him to "set us up" with the imperfect love of this world. It would be only a tease. But its inadequacies are inherent, leaving us wanting, so that we'll not cease to stretch for that greater love.

    Rest assured, The Day approaches. Because we love Him first, we will know perfect love. We will be satisfied. He promises it.

    The closest we get to such gratification in this realm is here:
    Trust in the LORD, and do good;
    Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
    Delight yourself also in the LORD,
    And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

    HE is my greatest desire. He readily gives Himself to me.

    I have learned to be content.

  12. i wrote about this today. been thinking about Leon Patillo's song in which the words were, "love isn't a feeling, but an act of the will." the problem of unforgiveness will get in the way at times.

  13. I'm late to the party! I'm still learning to love God just for who He is. I love learning how to expand my love for Him.

  14. Bud ~ Yeah, I need to do another "Forgiveness." Watch for it soon.

    T ~ Never too late! And "learning to love God just for who He is" is a GREAT place at which to arrive. I've heard it called seeking His face and not His hand. :D


Your comments are appreciated and you can expect a reply. If Blogger doesn't accept your comment, or if you prefer
another method, I hope you'll respond via Twitter or email
(see sidebar icons or the "Contact Me" tab, above).

(Comments to older posts and will appear after approval.)