Spiritual Articles

What is Love?

Love is to be directed first to God 

If we wish to understand love in its true scriptural foundations, we must set before us (and understand) the following truth: 

Love should be directed to God, before anyone or anything else This is what God revealed to us in the Book of Deutoronomy: "..." (Duet 6:5) 

So then, if this love to God is from the whole heart, is there any room left for any other love? How can we love anything else, if the whole heart is for God?! The only answer is that our love for everyone and everything is through our love for God. 

When we have given the whole heart to God, within our love to God, we love everyone. That is why when asked about the greatest commandment, Christ replied, (Matt 22:37-39) 

Why did He say, "The second is like it"? Because it is through the love of God... It is part of it... It is not separate from the first commandment... 

Hence, any love outside of the love of God is a sinful love. What if this (second) love was greater than out love for God?! Our Lord answers us saying, (Matt 10:37) 

Any love that is greater than the love of God, prefers a person or a thing more than God Himself. We can therefore label it as "A sinful love", because it interferes with the love of God. It is a love that is stronger than the love of God!!! Is that appropriate?! 

In this situation, the whole heart is not given to God (and hence breaks the first commandment). This "sinful love" becomes a "stranger" in your heart. A stranger never dwells in one place forever. If you want to love someone or something forever, make sure this love is through the love of God; i.e. fulfill the first commandment first, and then you will be able to include the second love through your love to God... 

Types of Love:

There are many different types of love:

  • Natural love such as the love between parents and their children. That is why God resembled His love to us as the natural paternal love: "Behold what manner of lovethe Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1)
  • Gained love such as the love of friends, relatives, associates, or the love between an engaged or a married couple
  • Love may develop in stages. It may start out as collaboration, and then progress to assistantship or friendship. Collaboration is a relationship between two or more individuals unified by a joint objective or project, which may lead to a unified thought (mind), which may lead to friendship.


A relationship may involve a feeling of admiration. Admiration is different from love. You may admire a sports champion, but that does not mean you love him/her. You may admire an author. You like his thoughts and/or writing style, without having a personal relationship with the author. An intellectual relationship may develop (that ties your thoughts with his/her thoughts), but this is still not love. If this relationship evolved into love, it will be love for his/her ideas and/or style, but not his/her person.

Love is the meeting of two hearts, or the bonding of two hearts through the same feelings or emotions. In order for this to be a sacred love, these emotions should be within the sphere of the love of God; it should not contradict nor surpass it. 

If love is one-sided only, there must be a problem (e.g. incompatibility), because love always gives birth to love [i.e. it will create a mutual feeling.] Love must be spiritual, wise and prudent, because there are certain kinds of "love" that cause trouble. 

True love must be pure. Here, we can distinguish between love and desire (lust.) Love always wants to give, but desire always wants to take. 

Desire is: 

  • Selfish
  • Does not care about the other person it "claims" to love (and may ruin him/her)
  • May imprison him/her in itself and limit his/her liberty to interact with others
  • May turn into a destructive jealously
  • It really is NOT true love. True love is known to be giving, even to the point of self-sacrifice.

Look at yourself and your relationship with the opposite sex. Is it a relationship of love or lust?!

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"How easy it is for your aim to change along the way unless you stay watchful" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III #coptic #orthodox #vigilant #watchful

 

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