Attributes of God: Love

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 17, 2015 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I was listening to a sermon a while back and one of the comments made was this: “When was the last time you heard a sermon on the attributes of God?” And I started thinking: When was the last time I heard someone speak about the attributes of God? I had often heard references to them, but I really don’t remember when that was the emphasis of the message. And if I asked for a show of hands of those reading this if they heard a message about the attributes of God recently, I think it would be safe to say few, if any, have. I hope to remedy that by doing a blog post series on some of the attributes of God. Through this series, I will describe the attribute, but also show how knowing this attribute affects us and how that knowledge should impact how we live our lives.

To open, the first attribute of God I will explore is the most popular one: Love. 1 John 4:8 is a frequently cited Scripture because that is where we learn that “God is love.” But many people have a very misconstrued picture of what love actually is. First there are four types of love: Eros, Philia, Storga, and Agape. Let me delve into each one briefly.

Eros is romantic love, and it is very often confused with sexual attraction. Eros most certainly is related to your hormones, but your hormones do not determine if it is love or not. Hormones can trigger a different emotion: lust. I am not going to dig further than this, but note that when someone is talking about “love” this is often what they are referencing and that is NOT what John is referencing in 1 John 4:8. This is a God-given love, but it is so easily abused.

Philia is “brotherly love” which is also where the name “Philadelphia” comes from (the “adelphia” means brother). This is the bond between close friends. These are not merely your acquaintances but the close ones. This type of love is what makes you stick by your friend, even when they are in trouble. Think of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel or Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings.

Storga is “empathetic” love. It is the bond between family and those you consider with your “home,” which could mean your house, your neighborhood, city, or nation. Think of your family ties or the place you call home. The bond you have with these people and places is Storga.

The last one is Agape and this actually the one John is referencing. This is the greatest of the four types of loves and is the one that should guide and direct the others. This is God’s love. It the unconditional, “I am going to do that which is best for” type of love. Agape supersedes Eros, Phiia, and Storga, but can also show itself in the three others. This is the type of love parents have for children (or should have), where it does not matter what they do, they still love their kids, even through adulthood, and they seek out the best for them.

John describes God as Agape love. In perhaps the most well-known and most-quoted verse in all of Scripture, John 3:16, we learn that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in him, he shall not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves us so much that the sent his Son to pay for the penalty for our sin. He loves us so much that despite our sin, despite our outright rebellion and snobbery of who he is, he still died for us. But there is more to it than that.

Love does not merely let anyone get off the hook for what they do. Yes, God died for our sin, but that does not mean merely getting off the hook. There are still consequences despite the forgiveness of sin. Galatians 6:7 tells us to not be deceived. God is not mocked. A man will reap what he sows. God allows us to suffer the consequences for sin so we will learn to listen to him and obey him.

He also disciplines us. In today’s age, discipline is treated almost like a needs-to-be-bleeped swear word. No one wants to talk about it. But if there is no discipline, there is no love. Read Hebrews 12:4-13. Particularly, Hebrews 12:8. Pay very close attention to that verse. It says if we are not being disciplined, then we are illegitimate children. If we are not being disciplined by God, that means we are not his children, and we are not saved. No man should ever discipline a child that is not his. This goes for more than just family. A coach can discipline his players, but not the other team’s players. If he tries, that never ends too well. Yes, discipline can be abused, but when it is abused, it is because there is something out of balance, such as righteous anger, justice, or something like that.

No parent who loves his/her child will withhold discipline. Discipline invokes a perfect standard of right and wrong, and a pull to re-direct someone straying from that perfect standard to get back onto it. God loves us so much he will strive to tell us what his standards are so that which will destroy us will not get to us. No parent who loved his/her child would allow the child to just play in the middle of a busy street. They would not force their will upon them, but with great love, they would coax and encourage and teach them to do that which is right. The same is true about God’s love. He allows us to do what we want to do, but because he loves us, he will give us the consequences so we will learn the right way to live. Whole books can be written about this and I’m trying to do it within two pages, so I’ll stop here. God wants the best for us, and when sin is running rampant, he can’t give us what he would like because he needs to get rid of the sin first. He loves us so much that he will work to remove the sin from our lives. Get this: he loves us so much that when we choose to continue to live in sin, he will lovingly remove himself from us because if he stuck around, he would destroy us. I’ll get deeper into that when I describe God’s holiness. I will wrap up with this thought: How can God be loving without also being just? The next attribute I will introduce next week is the justice of God.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Charlie said...

An additional note: In the Greek. Eros, also known as sexual love, is NEVER used even once in the New Testament. Storge is used once once. Phileo is used 25 times. And Agape is used every other time. Beware of those who say love, but mean Eros, and try to apply it to the Bible.