In an age when love is best defined by several Greek words translated love, it appears we have forgotten the other word meanings.
Eros is the Greek word means physical attraction between two people. Our English word "erotic" is derived from it. In Greek mythology Eros was the equivalent of the Roman Cupid, the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In psychiatry, it relates to libido. It was a term used for sexual involvement.
Philos, brotherly love or friendship, has been devalued.
Agape is "the ultimate willful act of self-sacrificing for the welfare of someone else."
We have reached the point where it is inconceivable that brotherly love can exist without sexual involvement. Or, that self-sacrificing love can be expressed without expecting some sexual favor in return.
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius named February 14 Valentine's Day and it remains a day devoted to expressing love for others.
Karl Menninger, co-founder of the Menninger Clinic, one of the modern era's most outstanding psychiatrists, remarked, "Love is the medicine for the sickness of the world."
Love is a verb, an action word. Christ instructed His followers to love. An emotion can't be commanded. Action can be and was. It is something you do.
I had a cousin, Sam, who dated a girl for seven years. One day when they were sitting in the swing she worked up the nerve and asked, "Sam, do you love me?"
"Yep, he responded without even a glance."
She pressed, "Do you really love me?"
"Then Sam, if you love me do, something about it."
Sam wasn't very good in grammar. He never in his lifetime got around to doing something about it. Sam is the prototype of many. He is the embodiment of many who if they do get around to doing something about it think it calls for eros. I really think he had fellowship love for his long time companion.
It isn't a song until it is sung.
It isn't a bell until it is rung.
It isn't love until it is given away.
The poet Edwin Markham wrote many renowned poems. A person asked which his favorite was, thinking his answer would be "Lincoln" or "Man with a Hoe." As his response he quoted his favorite.
"He drew a circle and shut me out.
Heretic, rebel, thing of flout.
Love and I had a will to win.
We drew a circle and took him in."
Do you need to draw a bigger circle? I have to increase mine daily. It is a challenge to draw a circle enclosing someone you instinctively would like to pray for with a baseball bat. Those are the moments given us to prove our agape.
Many people in marriages are silently screaming for intimacy. To understand the meaning of intimacy, consider this. It means "into-me-see." To see often means to comprehend. Intimacy means to see in a person the good that is there. It calls for understanding of the person. That calls for agape.
This is a special Valentine's Day for me. As of today I have been married to my Valentine for 55 years. I thank the Lord she agreed to be my lifetime Valentine.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. Contact Price at email@example.com.