Each year on February 14 we observe Valentine’s Day. It is a time to celebrate romantic love. It is a time for quiet dinners, flowers, special gifts and intimate moments. Greeks had a word for this kind of love. They called it “Eros”. Unfortunately, many men only understand a portion of the word. They have the physical aspects figured out but the tender, sentimental aspects do not always register strongly on their fun meter. This is not because they are hard hearted but because they are wired differently. They need to learn to appropriate the full meaning of the word.
I learned this lesson early in my marriage. On our first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife, I picked up my wife at work. On the way home, I stopped at a drug store. While she waited in the car, I went into the store, bought a box of candy, came back to the car and handed it to her with the words, Happy Valentine’s Day. Needless to say, things were quiet at dinner that evening but not for the right reasons.
The Greeks had another word for love. It was called “Agape”. It is entirely different from romantic love. While romantic love generally comes with conditions, agape love has none. It is unconditional love. It is given without the attachments. It doesn’t say I love you because or I will love you if. It simply says I love you. This is the love that God has for us. It is the love that we find in the much used verse, John 3:16. It reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We can’t change His love for us but we must openly receive it if we are to appropriate its full benefits in our lives.
This is not an either/or proposition. There is a place for romantic love. It has been said that a marriage without it is like a soft drink without any fizz. However, it will come and go because it is based on our feelings. On the other hand, God’s love is based on His decision to love us. His Word tells us that we are to love each other as He has loved us. It is important that we understand this because it is this type of love that gets us through the rough spots in our relationships.
I am grateful that my wife understands the concept of agape. Despite my youthful ignorance of the finer points of romance, she has loved me for forty-four years, not because she has always felt like it, certainly not because I have deserved it, but because she decided in the beginning that she would love me in spite of my mistakes. As much as her love has blessed my life, it can not compare to the love that my God has for me. I am eternally grateful for both.