In contemporary times, when a man says ‘I love you’ to a woman, he is thinking of three things:
Her looks; men are driven by sight;
Her performance, or the expectation of it, in bed; and
Her cooking ability.
When a woman says ‘I love you’ to a man, she is thinking of security, provisions, liberty and devotion. In practical terms, she means:
He excites me by what he says; women are driven by what they hear. From what he says and what I hear, he has what it takes to take care of me.
He can be depended upon to provide for my every need. ‘He is caring.’
He allows me to indulge in my fancies. Women resent being consciously controlled by their husbands.
People mean different things when they use the word ‘love.’ Many years ago, a man of God preached a message titled “Nobody Loves You.” That message puzzled me. The thrust of the sermon was that apart from Jesus Christ, nobody else loves you. Nobody is ready to die for you. Nobody is ready to diminish, be reduced or treated brutally for your sake. Everybody is seeking his own good, not the good of others, including those who are very close to the person.
As the message was going on, I wondered whether the Man of God had not taken it too far. Before then, I had always felt that I loved some people to the point that I could lay down my life for them and that some people loved me so much that they would not hesitate to die for me. What an illusion!
In truth, I was not ready to die for anyone and nobody was willing to die for me. Self-love is far too strong that you do not love anybody and nobody loves you. My personal experience testifies eloquently to that fact.
An incident happened as I was waiting to board a plane that made me to begin to understand the meaning of agape, the God-kind of love. At the departure hall of the Airport, I met a classmate. She was a journalist and we were together at Word of Faith Bible Institute August programme some years back. We sat together in the aircraft. I looked out of the window and saw a cripple on rollers. He was deftly meandering among the passengers collecting money from those impressed with his acrobatic display. He looked very happy and satisfied with what he was doing.
I drew my friend’s attention to the boy and said: “This cripple is looking happy but if he dies in his present condition he will go to hell and his happiness will cease forever. Is there any possibility of reaching this boy and showing him the way to real happiness?” My friend remarked cutely: “This is love; agape love is flowing from you to the boy.” I was surprised at her comments. I did not think about what I said, It just came out of my spirit.
Later, I began to understand that agape love is not something you acquire in nature. It is not inherited by natural birth. It is not hereditary like filial love. It is not something you grow up to do like sexual relationship. It is a spiritual gift and like all spiritual gifts must be received from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is administered by the Holy Spirit as part of the redemptive package.
The story is told of a young American couple. After Bible School and marriage, the couple travelled to Indonesia as missionaries. They were led of the Holy Spirit to go to a leper colony. On arriving at the gate of the colony, they were refused entry. The couple explained their mission and pleaded to be allowed to go in and help the inmates.
The officials manning the gate agreed to let them in on one condition. They would not be allowed to get out. That was the Government policy in respect of the colony: go in and remain there forever. Husband and wife looked at each other unsure of what next to do. The man said to his wife: “The Great Commission says: ‘Go ye,’ it does not say anything about coming out.” Holding hands, husband and wife crossed the gate and sowed their lives in the leper colony. That is the God-kind of love.
What is the Bible definition of love? The word translated ‘love’ in the Bible has three meanings. There is love at the level of the body. This is erotic love. There is phileo love, which is love at the level of the soul. This kind of love is characterised by filial relationships. The spirit love is agape, the God-kind of love. It is not a natural life force. It resides in the Holy Spirit and He is the dispenser of genuine love.
Agape love is one of the nine leaves of the fruit of the Spirit. Like faith and tongues, love has measurability. It can be developed through a deep knowledge of the Dispenser, the Holy Spirit.
Love can also be compared with three kinds of flame: red flame, blue flame and white flame. Agape is like white flame. It is not visible to the eye. It is not messy. But it is extremely effective in action. The effect is very visible.
Red fire can be seen everywhere. On TV, in Schools, at corporate offices and wherever men and women gather. Red fire love says: ‘I want to lie with you.’ This is eroticism. It produces a lot of ash in the form of unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, broken hearts and suicides.
Blue fire love is less noisy. It does not produce a lot of ash like red fire love. It can lead to heroic deeds. The love of parents for their children and vice versa falls into this category. Red fire and blue fire love are natural endowments. Agape, the white fire love is not in nature. It is imparted by the Holy Spirit.
In your walk and work with the Lord, other brethren and the unbelievers around you, what kind of flame do you generate?
Agape love is not a natural life force. That is why it is brutal and deadly to the one who loves unconditionally. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But the Giver of eternal life died on a cruel Cross to demonstrate agape love.
Another term for agape love is death to self. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
To say ‘I love you’ means you are willing if need be to die for or in place of the one you love.
How did Christ love the Church? 1 Jn 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (NKJV)
If you have ever said: ‘I love you Jesus’ are you ready to die for His cause?