In my IBE lessons, Dr. Minnick taught me the four different Greek words for love, in a lesson which was very convicting to me! They are as follows:
Eros (said like AIR-oss) -- physical attraction, passionate compulsion (lust). Aristotle said, "Eros always begins with the pleasure of the eye, and no one falls into it without first being charmed by beauty." Dr. Minnick called this unconverted love and pictured it like this: Two circles next to eachother, with an arrow coming out from one of the circles, but the arrow is inverted towards itself. It is a kind of "love" that is out for what it can get more than what it can give.
Philos (said like FIH-loss)-- friendship love, a mutual affection. Dr. Minnick illustrated this by two circles next two eachother with a line between the two with arrows pointing towards each other.
Storge (said like STORE-gay)-- family love, also a mutual affection. This word is used twice in the negative in the New Testament, in Romans 1:1 and 2 Timothy 3:3. This is illustrated in the same way as the former philos.
Agape (said like uh-GAH-pay)-- divine love, God's love, John 3:16 love. This is God giving to the world. It is illustrated in two circles, with an arrow (not inverted) going out from one circle to the other. It desires the other's highest good. This is the character of love that a true disciple of Christ should show to EVERYONE.
It was that last one, agape, that really convicted me. We are not told to have warm, fuzzy philos/storge love towards everyone, necessarily, but we are told to have agape love towards all people! What? All people? What if this one person rejects my love? Or doesn't care what I think about them? Worse, what if that person hates my guts and would do anything to be rid of me? Am I to love that person?
I love the picture in Fireproof, when Caleb is complaining to his dad about Catherine, and asks how is he supposed to love someone who continually rejects him. His dad uses that question and turns it around on him-- how is it that God would continue to love him, even though he continued to reject Him? Think about it. We have hurt God over and over again by sinning against Him, lifting ourselves up against Him in our hearts, rejecting Him. Yet, when we were yet sinners, He loved us, so much that He died for us and took the penalty of our sins upon Himself! What great love! And even when men reject Him, He still loves them and continues to offer them a chance to repent and put their faith and trust in Him.
When I think of God's love in that way, I am ashamed of my own level of "love". I don't even have people who hate me so much that they wish I were dead (I don't think I do, at least!) but there are people I know well who are hard to love because they tend to be unkind, annoying, sometimes hurtful (intentionally or unintentionally, with words or actions)... and it is so easy to feel bitter or resentful towards those people. I don't "feel" like loving them, because they are just so unlovable! Shame on me! Aren't I so unlovable, and yet God loved me? Haven't I sinned and hurt God and others, and yet God loves and forgives me? Haven't I blasphemed His name, and yet He offers me salvation and forgiveness through His death on the cross? Who am I to resent or withhold forgiveness from anyone for something done against me, or anyone, for that matter? Jesus loves them with the same magnitude of love with which He has loved me. And if Christ is in me, so should His fruit be abiding and abounding in me. My Heavenly Father has been so good lately to challenge me to this new depth of love in the face of difficult relationships. Revealing Himself and the nature of His love to me, He shows me where I am so fleshly in this area, and yet offers me victory through His Name and by His blood. This is not a losing effort, if God is on my side-- and He is! :-)
Please pray for me as I seek to grow in this area of Christlike agape love towards all. I also encourage you to allow the Spirit to shed light on your own hearts and show you if there is any bitterness or resentment in your heart that needs to be rooted out. It may be painful for a moment, but the end will be sweet joy!