Several months ago, I commented on the power of languages. (read here) They hold secrets that are often only discovered in a deep, diligent search. Sometimes there are words in other languages that simply cannot be translated to one English word because they hold deeper meaning.
In English, the word "love" has so many flippant meanings. We love our pet goldfish. We also love chocolate, our best friend, our siblings (sometimes, that is), our possessions, our gifts... and oh yeah, we love God too.
I like how the Greek language writes out love. Instead of a "one word fits all" thing, there are different words for different types of love. Philia is a brotherly love such as affection or friendship. Eros is a passionate, romantic love. Storge is like a familiar love... such as love shown between friends, parents and children, pets and owners, etc. But my favorite is the last one. Agape is a sacrificial love like the Love God showed us on the cross that day long ago.
Now I don't know anything about the Greek language (correct me if I made an error in my interpretations), but I think it's interesting to consider. Is our love merely a brotherly love? Or are we willing to make sacrifices? Is our love for God and others a love that can never be broken? Can it last through every trial, storm, and drought?
I assume that most of you have watched The Sound of Music, a musical based during the time of World War II. If not, I'll let you know in advance that I will be sharing spoilers. Read on at your own risk. ;)
This movie is secular. (Yes, despite the nuns, I don't think the movie was created with the intention of sharing Biblical truth.) Despite that, I learned from watching it.
Maria is a - unique - nun who doesn't really fit in an Abby. She ends up becoming a governess for a household of seven children and is worried to discover that many governesses before her have experienced trouble with the children. Throughout the story, Maria encounters resistance from them, hostility and resentment from the widowed father, and, despite her best efforts, is completely embarrassed and mortified on several occasions with the father. His strictness and displeasure towards her is obvious.
But what happens throughout the story? Maria ends up turning the household upside down. She has a servant's heart and brings joy to the children's lives. And, of course, the father falls in love with her and they eventually live happily ever after as husband and bride.
As I was thinking about that story, I wondered what it would have been like if I had been Maria. I'm very sure that I would have quit the job right away instead of humbly accepting undue blame and criticism. I would not have bowed my head to an unloving man and shown him the respect that Maria did. The end of the story would have been much different, and likely I wouldn't have made a difference in the broken family.
But she did. Why? What was different about Maria?
Although the story isn't a Christian one, I think Maria displayed a sense of Godly humility, love, and joy. She resolved within herself to become a servant. Instead of demanding her own rights, Maria spent her time trying to improve the lives of the children by bringing songs back into their home. And the story was beautiful.
We have a quote on our wall that summarizes it well in my opinion.
Are we like Maria, sending joy everywhere we go? Is our love a selfless, others-centered love?
Paul the apostle wrote a verse that stood out to me in this area. I know this post is already growing long, so I'll try not to tarry too much longer here. =)
"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith." - 1 Timothy 1:5
During the summer months we are focusing on loving others. But it's important that our love isn't "me" focused.
- Is our love from a pure heart? What are our secret motives?
- Do we have a good conscience? Are there wrongs we haven't cleared up or are we offended at someone?
- Do we have sincere faith? Do we not only have love for others but also a passionate love for Christ?
As we strive to develop a heart that loves, perhaps these questions can evaluate why we do the things we do. Let's resolve to have Godly humility, love, and joy - an agape type of love - towards God and others. Let's have a life that radiates Christ's joy to everyone around us.
Put yourself in Maria's position; would you have responded in a similar manner? How can you make steps today to have a selfless love for others? Comment below!
(ps) This same week a year ago, I actually posted a blog post that was on a similar topic. =) (good timing, right?) You can read it here.