The disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Mark 9:33-34). “Then Jesus called a little child to him, set him in the middle of them and said, Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4).
The ancient Greeks used four different words to express the word LOVE. For SEXUAL LOVE, the Greeks used the word EROS. This is the root word for our word ‘erotic’. Eros was the name of the Greek god of sex – pure, natural, animal driven sex. God created the sexual nature in man and God said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Paul wrote, “To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband” (I Corinthians 7:2). In marriage, the sexual bed is ‘undefiled’ (Hebrews 13:4).
The second Greek word for “love” is STORGE’. This is the natural affection expressed in a family – a husband to wife, or parents to children, or that type of love that would include all relatives. The parents love for their children is unlike the love they may express for each other. “Incest is sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that it is forbidden by law to marry”. The word STORGE’ is used twice in the New Testament and is applied in reverse. It means “natural affections” and both times it is translated “Without natural affections” (Romans 1:31; II Timothy 3:3).
PHILIA is the third word the Greeks used for LOVE. This word is different from both EROS and STORGE. It is not sexual in its expression. It speaks of deep and abiding friendship. This is the root word for Philadelphia. Jesus speaks of John the Baptist as ‘his friend” – PHILIA (John 3:29). Jesus called Lazarus, who he raised from the dead as “his friend” (John 11:11). Some of your friends (PHILIA) may seem closer to you than some of your relatives (STORGE’). AGAPE IS THE Greek word that speaks of God’s love.. This is a one dimensional love – 100 per cent commitment. AGAPE is selfless giving even of one’s life to help others (John 3:16). This is God’s love and in us, becomes the most powerful force we can experience. It is used 225 times in the New Testament. It is a love that must be learned and must become ‘anchored’ in the heart. It is not tied to sentiments or emotions which change with moods. When the New Testament says, “God is love it is speaking of AGAPE (I John 4:8).
A little girl asked her mother, “Where did you get all your gray hair?” The mother continued her work and answered rather nonchalantly, “Oh, every time you do a bad thing, I get another gray hair!” “Well, where did Grandma get all her gray hair?” came the innocent reply.
Now let the children give their definition of love – how wonderfully simple and artistically beautiful. Many thanks to a friend who sent them to me via e-mail.
Nikki (6) “If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you hate.”
Rebecca (8) “When grandmother got arthritis and she couldn’t bend over to paint her toenails, Grandfather did it for her all the time.”
Billy (4) When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know your name is safe in their mouth.”
Chrissy (6) “Love is when you go out to eat and you give somebody most of your French fries, without making them give you any of theirs.”
Terri (4) “Love is what makes you smile even when you’re tired.”
Danny (7) “Love is when Mommy makes coffee for Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him to make sure the taste is OK.”
Bobby (7) “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas time, when you stop opening presents and listen.”
Tommy (6) “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they have known each other for ever.”
Elaine (5) “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Mary Ann (4) “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you have left him alone all day long.”
Lauren (4) “I know my older sister loves me ’cause she gives me all her old clothes and then has to go out and buy new ones.”
Jessica (8) “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it you should say it a lot. People forget.”
So maybe we can better understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God… and who ever causes one of these little who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 19:14; l8:6).
So much for the study of Greek – I’ll take the kids anytime!