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This October, my wife and I are approaching our 4-year wedding anniversary. We didn’t have the traditional wedding. We opted to get married on the beach in Florida. We invited our parents, siblings, and our best friends. It was intimate, beautiful, and perfect!

My father-in-law walked her down the sandy isle. She wore the most breathtaking white dress that accented her tanned skin. As she approached, her pretty bright white smile lit my heart with jubilation. She grabbed my hands, and as I looked into her eyes, I started to weep gleefully. That day, the Florida sun was not hindered by any clouds. And the splashing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, hitting the beach, was soothing to the soul. This day could not be any more perfect. As I sit here reflecting on our wedding day, it brings great joy to my heart. But more importantly, shows how far my wife and I have gone.

Our marriage has been anything but perfect. We’ve had our ups and downs, and many things challenged our marriage over the past 4 years. Many times, my selfishness got in the way. But God’s Word always seems to put things into perspective for me. I remember this one time, while reading my Bible on our apartment’s balcony, I stumble upon 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.

As my eyes scrolled down, I saw verses 4-8 circled in pen with a heart drawn next to it. The handwriting was my wife’s. I recall on our wedding night, we took each others Bibles and wrote notes to each other. The letter I wrote to her was sappy, and corny. While my wife’s, penetrated my heart and reminded me what love is.

As I read this passage, my eyes started to well up.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (NIV)

In Apostle Paul’s First Epistle, he wrote to the church of Corinth. This church is believed to be planted by Paul himself. It was still very young, and Paul wrote to the church to confront and correct them, because it was “struggling with matters of disunity, sexual immorality and immaturity.” Chapter 13 of his letter to the church, covers the subject of ‘love.’ 

Paul originally wrote this epistle in Greek, and used the word ‘agape’, which translated into English means ‘love’. The English definition of ‘love’ is fairly broad with various connotations on how it’s used. For example, one could say “I love pizza” and in the same breath also say “I love my wife”. Of course, the feeling of love would not be the same for both.

Paul’s Dichotomy of Love

In the original Greek language, Paul used agape to refer to “the active love of God for his Son and his people, and the active love his people are to have to God, each other, and even enemies.” [1] The key purpose agape was used was to express ‘active love’. When something is ‘active’, it is engaging, it is energetic, and it is lively.

But when it is ‘inactive’, it is not engaging, but rather idle and lifeless. So, what Paul is describing is a type of love God has towards us that is engaging, energetic, and full of life. In verses 4-8, Paul is laying out to the church in Corinth, two types of love. One type of love, (agape), is active and Godly, and the other, is inactive and ungodly. Essentially, Paul is putting forth a dichotomy of love.

Now, if you notice the key action words Paul uses as he describes both types of love. On one side, there is a love that is active and Godly, which are all outwardly expressed and focused, and on the other, a type of love that is inactive, ungodly, which is inwardly expressed and focused. These two dualistic antagonistic forms of love are expressed differently and are in no way equal.   

 

Now Read This:  Marriage in the Era of Cheap love

APOSTLE PAUL’S TWO TYPES OF  LOVE

Active (Godly)

Inactive (Ungodly)

Patient

Envious

Kind

Boastful
Rejoices with truth

Prideful

Protects

Dishonors Others
Trusts

Self-seeking

Hopes

Easily angered

Perseveres

Keeps record of wrongs

Never fails

Delights in evil

As stated above, one doesn’t both love pizza and their spouse equally. Additionally, as Paul describes in Chapter 13, there is Godly love and ungodly love. One rejoices in the truth and the other delights in evil. But more importantly, Godly loves never fails.

Sadly, the secular world is filled with ungodly, inactive love that is resulting in the decay and lifelessness within our collective spirit as a nation. Everyday there is hate, violence, debauchery, and devaluation of human life, sprawled across our television sets and even celebrated in America culture as progress. Inactive love has decayed our moral credibility as a leading nation, and as a result, taking us down a dangerous path as a civilization.

Satan has deceived many (and some in the church) that his brand of inactive love is Godly love, but his love is counterfeit. You probably have heard that love is love, or self-seeking individualism and personal pride are a good thing. But this selfish, inactive love has regressed our nation into a disunity of ideologically siloed communities, focused on their own righteous indignation.

Godly and ungodly love

As Christians, we need to make clear bold distinctions between Godly and ungodly love. Love is not love. There is moral, active and life-giving love that rejoices in the truth. And there is ungodly, inactive, and lifeless love that delights in evil. They are not the same, but rather dualistic antagonistic forms of love.

As a husband, Paul’s epistle is a reminder on how I should express and focus my love towards my wife and as a member of society. Understanding the different forms of love has helped me become a better husband to my wife, and in general, a better person.

But I will admit, I don’t always succeed in expressing agape love. At times, I allow pride and selfishness to cloud my judgement, and reading and re-reading Paul’s epistle, is important to bring myself closer to fully understanding the greatness of God’s life-giving love.

References:
[1] Edward W. Goodrick, & John R. Kohlenberger III (1999). The Strongest: NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Michigan: Zondervan.

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