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Sacrificial Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”   1 Corinthians 13

Some thoughts and questions to ask about love: Love and like? Love and be loved - love to be loved? Love for now, love forever, love no matter what. Love to serve?

My Seminary education taught me that in the Greek language there are many Greek words for love:

  • “Eros” - sensual passionate love
  • “Philia”- affectionate regard, friendship love
  • “Storge” - family love, love of parents, children, siblings
  • “Agape” - sacrificial love, charity, love of God for us

In the English language, we have one word for love, with many meanings.

I am grateful for the friends I have and the mutual love that we feel toward each other -- and how we express that love through time spent together, calls and texts of care and concern. I’m grateful for my family, my mother, father and oldest sister, our time together and the lessons learned from them while they lived in this world. Even now, those memories still inform my life and give me joy. I am grateful for my youngest sister and her family and the communications and life’s journeys we share almost daily. I am most grateful for my daughters and their families and the love we have for each other and the times we have together as we all live close by. There is nothing like special time with my grandchildren and conversations with my grown children, including my “sons” as we live life together. And for 45+ years, there has been an indescribable love, bond, partnership and passion shared between my wife and me. That love has been enriched and deepened as we have encountered life’s struggles and been led by the God who loves and leads us.

1 Corinthians 13 was the most requested verse for many weddings that I performed in my parish ministry. The Greek word for “love” used in the original text of 1 Corinthians 13 is “agape”. I usually talked about a love for the underserved, a love that always gives and suggested that this is the type of love that God has called a couple to have for each other - a sacrificial love, a love that gives no matter what it receives in return. I was aware that the couple probably had an active “Eros” love for each other that had brought them together. I was also aware that those who had come to the wedding had a “Phila”, even a “storge” love for the couple and that was why they were there. But I felt that all of us need to at least be exposed to the idea that love should be sacrificial, that we need to consider the needs of those we love and what we can do to help them. It is not that we must help them in whatever they want or that we have to help them so they will love and help us. We help and love them because we value them and our relationship with them.

And yes, the best example of this is God’s love for us. God gives to us - through life’s blessings, forgiveness and patience with us even during life’s struggles.  God has made us part of His family, and according to our Christian beliefs, God sacrificed His Son for us so that we would have forgiveness and life forever. We don’t deserve it, and we can’t earn it. Still Agape love is present for us to enjoy and to live. Can a measure of that agape love be a part of your relationships? Love and be loved. Love forever, love no matter what. Love to serve?