“We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (King James Version)
This week, God has been challenging me to understand the difference between love and lust. In this world the lines between love and lust can at times become so blurred it is hard to distinguish which one is which. The world has twisted the word and understanding of love into something that it is not.
Lust. The Greek words for lust are: “epithymia- desire, longing; epithymeo- to desire long for; hedone- pleasure, enjoyment; orego- to desire; orexis- longing, desire; pathos- passion.” Lust is not always a bad thing, but it should be understood that it is in no means love. Lust is a feeling, a desire, or an impulse. It is that fluttering in your heart. After researching lust I couldn’t help but think that this is how the world defines love. Last week, I was watching a Christmas romance movie and the entire time they kept stressing how it was love at first sight and how they had this amazing chemistry. While these things can be good and healthy, they aren’t love and they are indeed lust and need to be understood and handled as such. Also, lust is only temporary because lust is a feeling and it can go as quickly as it came.
Love. I’m reading a book by Eric Metaxas titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask): The Jesus Edition, and one topic is about how love is a choice. You choose to love someone, it’s not a feeling at all. I think what struck me the most from that statement is that you choose to love someone and then you commit to that choice.
The most famous verse on love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Passion Translation) “Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” Never once in these verses does it talk about love being a feeling, it’s a choice to love and to express that outwardly. Unlike lust where it’s a fleeting emotion, love is a choice. You must choose to love each moment and each day. When choosing love, you must decide in your heart to love and to commit to something regardless of the feelings that surround it. I know—being married and even in some of my friendships—I have had to choose to love that person despite not feeling like it. We must each day choose and commit to love one another despite our emotions. This is why love is the very center of Christianity. Love is the glue that holds community and Christians together. It’s that bond, that commitment, that determination—that despite whatever happens, you are choosing to love, even when it’s challenging.
1 Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictionary and Theology, Second Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 717
Dani Noe, Sozo & Admin Pastor