Love is an interesting word in the English language. We only have one word for it, yet it can mean so many different things. You can love both pizza and a person. You can love your wife and your best friend. We only have this one word for love. The ancient Greeks had many words for love. Eros, which is a passionate love. Philia is a brotherly type of love. Ludus, a playful childlike love. Agape, a selfless love. Pragma, the longstanding and compromising love. Finally, Philautia, the love of yourself.
What do you want? This is the real question that is answered by the types of love we display. Do we want others to succeed? Do we want to be passionate towards our spouse? Do we wish to climb the corporate ladder without caring for who might get in our way while we are pursuing that next promotion? What we want lets us know what we truly worship and desire. It may be a new job, a family, God, cars, boats, friends, etc. But we communicate through our actions what is truly in our hearts. What we truly desire and love will be shown in our behavior. Usually with children, it is easy to see what they love. They are very often better communicators than adults. They know what they want, and they try to get it. It may be sharing toys, winning in sports, or being popular. They pursue what they want and do not seem to care who knows their motives.
Adults, however, are more complicated. We try to put on a good face when we do not get something we want. We go about the issues in a roundabout way, talking about the issue with everyone except the one it deeply involves. These actions communicate too. When we use these roundabout methods such as gossip or rumors, we communicate what we genuinely want. If we do not get our way, we will say anything to bring others to our side to still win a small victory. We are silly and petty when all is said and done.
There should be an order of importance to these loves I listed. And I would argue that Philautia and Agape should be at the bottom of our lists. The love of self does not really help any besides an individual. Notice all the other types of love involve a second party? Philautia is a selfish love. Aren’t we taught at an early age to share, help and have good manners? Why are we taught these things if we should be so focused on ourselves? Veterans Day was this past week and why do we love our veterans? Because they have shown a love that is selfless.
Our world today has a deep love of self. This is one of the reasons for the turmoil. If an election does not go our way, we are willing to spread rumors and things that may or may not be true. If we do not get that promotion, we try to tear that person down around the office until no one likes them. If we disagree with someone over a vaccine, we shame them. We show our true colors when things do not go our way.
So, I ask you, when you do not get what you want, which love do you show?
Aaron Brown is the pastor of children’s ministry at Maranatha Evangelical Free Church in Rice Lake and is a regular at Maxine’s Restaurant on Thursday mornings.