Exploring the Four Loves

February is a month that often reminds us of love in various forms. If you are familiar with C.S. Lewis’s book The Four Loves, you know that the Greeks had different words for different kinds of love. In English, they can all translate to “love,” so sometimes the meaning can be “lost in translation” to a degree.

Lewis explored each kind of love, and we thought it would be helpful to do the same to get a rounded picture of all the amazing kinds of love God has placed in our lives. The Greek names for the four loves are:

Storge Love

When we think about storge love, we should immediately picture the warmth and comfort that comes from family. There’s something special about those bonds, the ones that form the foundation of our lives. Whether it’s the laughter shared around the dinner table, the support during challenging times, or loving a family member even when they are driving you crazy, family love is truly unique.

Storge is a natural affection for others, especially those who are familiar and close. This love is given not because the recipient is especially worthy of love, but because God has designed us to love those who are close to us. It is especially strong in a parent’s love for a child. A newborn baby has done nothing to earn or merit the love of his or her mother, but that love is strong nonetheless.

The Lord spoke of this kind of innate love in Isaiah 49:15, when He said, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”

In the Scriptures, we find numerous verses that speak to the value of family relationships. But here’s the amazing thing: our earthly families are a picture of a greater, divine family. God’s love for us is like the love we experience within our families, but magnified beyond our comprehension. It’s in this storge love that we find a glimpse of the Father’s heart.

Eros Love

There’s a certain magic in the air when we think about romantic love, isn’t there? It’s like a melody that plays in the background of our lives, adding depth and color to our experiences.

Eros love is profound and passionate, speaking to the intensity and commitment found in romantic relationships. In the Bible, we come across verses that beautifully capture the sacred nature of such unions. One such verse is Song of Solomon 8:7—“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”

What makes romantic love so extraordinary is its reflection of God’s boundless love for us. The love between a husband and wife mirrors the divine connection between Christ and the Church. It’s a picture to the world of just how deep God’s loving commitment is to us as believers and the reciprocated love we feel for Him. Marriage, which finds its beginnings in eros, is a reminder of the depth of love that God designed for us to experience with Him.

Philia Love

Friendships are like the hidden treasures of our lives, bringing us immense joy and strength when mined. There’s something profoundly beautiful about sharing life with those who truly understand and support us.

Philia love is celebrated throughout the Bible. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” It speaks to the deep connection and loyalty found in true friendships.

In these relationships, we catch a glimpse of God’s love. Our friends become vessels through which God expresses His care and understanding. The companionship we experience with friends mirrors the divine connection we have with Jesus Christ, who told His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

This friendship love is also reflected in the work of the Holy Spirit, who guides, instructs, comforts, and motivates us as a true Friend and Helper.

Agape Love

Agape love is beyond comprehension. It’s sacrificial, unchanging, and godly. It’s the kind of love that led Jesus to the cross for our salvation. When I think about agape love, John 3:16 is what immediately comes to mind: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This is the pinnacle of love—a love that goes beyond our flaws and imperfections. It’s a love that redeems, forgives, and embraces us in our entirety. As we contemplate the beauty of God’s agape love, let’s also be mindful of ways we can embody this love in our lives. How can we extend grace and compassion to those around us? How can we love others with the same selflessness that God loves us with?

God’s agape love is the anchor of our faith. It’s the source of our hope and the foundation of our existence.

In this month of love, we've explored the depth and breadth of love as articulated through the Greek lexicon—storge, eros, philia, and agape. Each form of love offers a unique lens through which we can see the divine love God has for us. As we move beyond this month, let's carry the lessons of these loves into our everyday lives, enriching our relationships and deepening our understanding of God's love for us.

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