I love you.
Three little words that every person on this planet has longed to hear. Three little words that fill hearts with joy whenever they are spoken. But what do they really mean.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Peter’s response, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Then He asked him yet again with the same response. Then a third time.
When we take a deeper look into this account in John 21 we find that Jesus and Peter may seem to be saying the same thing, but they were not.
Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” The word translated as love here is the Greek word agape. Peter’s response, “You know that I love You.” The Greek word translated as love here is the word phileo. Both translated as the word love, but they are not saying the same thing.
Agape refers to the God-kind of love. It is God’s unfailing, unconditional love. It is completely self-less.
Phileo refers to an affection that “is based on mutual satisfaction and can feel disappointed.” (Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek). Why can this love feel disappointed? Because “self” is a part of the equation. I love you, but what have you done for me lately.
Not so with agape.
Jesus came and He introduced to us to the God-kind of love. A love that would send His Son to suffer and die in your place. A love that is never selfish, but always thinking of others and looking for a way to give, not take. Looking to meet others’ needs. Not looking to have it’s own needs met. (Don’t just think of material needs, this can include emotional needs.) With His teachings and demonstration of the God-kind of love, Jesus raised the bar on love.
I was thinking about this today. I was thinking about those three little words and what they truly mean. What do they mean when I speak them to another? What do they mean when I say I love another?
I say, “I love you”. But am I patient and kind or am I rude and unmannerly? Am I looking for a way to give or a way to get. How far will I go in laying down my life for you?
Agape raises the standard. Are we loving according to God’s standard or man’s standards?
God has asked us to love Him and love others the same way He loves, agape. But not only did He asks this of us, but then He sent His Holy Spirit to inhabit us and His Holy Spirit poured that very same love, the love of God in our hearts.
God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5, Amplified)
Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we “are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.” (Amplified) It is a process. But through this process we look more and more like Love Himself because we love more and more like Love Himself.
First John 4:19 says that we love because He first loved us.
How can you live a a life of love without your own needs on your mind? By knowing that you’re on His mind and He loves you. He’s watching out for you, while you help Him watch out for others.
Know His love for you and receive it. Know His love in you and release it. Then when you say those three little words, “I love you”, to whomever you may say them to, you can mean the same thing God means when He says them to you.