THE CONCEPT OF LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
Love is due to God in the first place:
If we want to understand love according to its true basis, biblically, we should put before us the following fact:
Love is addressed, before anything else, to God -
blessed be His name.
This reflects God's words in Deuteronomy, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deut. 6:5).
Since this love is with all the heart, where can other kinds of love be? What can we give since all the heart is for God? The only solution is:
Our love for everyone and for everything should be through or within the scope of our love for God.
All the heart is given to God and within this love of God, we love everyone. Therefore the Lord said, "...and the second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39).
But why did He say "like it"? Because it is within the love of God, part of it and not separated from it.
Any love outside the scope of God's love, is wrong.
What then if such love exceeds our love for God? The
Lord says in this regard, "He who loves father or mother
more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves
son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me"
The love that exceeds the love of God is for
or thing other than God Himself. We can say about this :
It is a false love which contradicts God's love and is stronger in the heart than the love for God.
The heart becomes disowned by God, and this false love intrudes God's domain.
Kinds of love:
There is natural love such as love between children and parents. Therefore God likened His love for us to the love of the father for his children.
There is also acquired love such as the love for friends, relatives and colleagues or the love between two engaged persons, or between the husband and wife.
Love might develop gradually.
It may begin as an acquaintance, then develop into
friendship. Acquaintance is a relation between two or
more persons who may work together or have similar
interests, and this may develop into a friendship.
There might be a kind of admiration in some relationships...
However, admiration is something different from love.
You may admire an athlete but this does not mean that
you love him. When you admire a writer, you admire his
thoughts without having any relation with him. There
may also arise a mental relation between you and him, but
all this is not love. Even though such relations develop
into a kind of love, it will be love for his thoughts or style
not for his person.
Love is an encounter between two hearts, or a union
between two hearts with the same feelings and emotions.
In order that such love be holy, the feeling sought should
be within God's love, not contradicting or exceeding it.
One of the problems is the case of one sided love.
This means that something is wrong or there is no agreement; for love is supposed to bring forth love.
Love should be reasonable, wise and spiritual; for there are different kinds of love that may cause harm. True love should be chaste; for there is a difference between love and lust.
I remember that I was once asked to distinguished between them, and I said: 'Love always wants to give, whereas lust always wants to take.'
Lust, wishing always to take, is characterized by
selfishness. It may ruin the other party though it pretends
to love. It may confine the other party to it and shut him
off from others. It may turn sometimes to a destroying
jealousy! In fact, it is not true love; for true love is
characterized with giving and sacrifice, even self sacrifice.
Look, then, at yourself in your relation with the other sex and see whether it is a relation of love or lust!
When a young man goes after a girl and
reputation or robs her chastity, what can we call it:
love or lust? If he really loves her he would protect her,
feel concerned about her reputation as he does for his
sister. He would protect her chastity and respect her
feelings. He would not let her be infatuated with him and
attached to him, then desert her, leaving her confused.
Can we call this love?
Some people may call it mere amusement in the life of the young!!!
But what is the cost of such amusement from
and social aspects? Such amusement occupies the mind
and may destroy one's career or hinder the young person's
success in study. There is no love whatsoever involved
here. What kind of amusement can this be in which
chastity and reputation are lost and even the spirituality
of both are lost?
True love should be accompanied with purity of
Love between two young people should not abolish their love for God.
The Lord said, "He who loves father or mother... son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me"
So, is it right for a young man to love a young woman more than God, or for a young woman to love a young man more than God? Is it right that such love involves feelings contradicting with the purity of heart ?
A person who loves you truly never makes you lose your spirituality.
Who loves you truly does not rob for himself your love
for God nor decreases its value nor shakes the love of
God in your heart. He cannot leave you in conflict
between two kinds of love: a spiritual love and the love
of the flesh, or love for God and love for a human being.
Love is not self enjoyment at the expense of another
It is rather a self-denial and a self sacrifice as Jonathan did for the sake of his friend David; exposing himself to the anger of his father by defending David.
The best example of love is the sacrifice on
the cross for
our sake as the Lord said, "For God so loved the world
that He gave His Only Begotten Son... " (John 3:16).
What then can we say about love which leads to marriage?
The important thing is: How can we be sure that it leads to marriage? What are the limitations of such love or such relation which is called love leading to marriage? Is it love between two engaged persons as a condition? Or is it love without any legal relation? What is its end? And what can protect it from deviation?
True love is everlasting love.
It continues and never fails (1Cor. 13:8), if the couple
love each other strongly and wish that such love
continues between them throughout their life on earth.
This love will also continue with them in eternity. This
cannot be realized unless their love is chaste so that they
may enter Paradise together, then enter together into the
Kingdom in eternity. But if one of them
perishes on the
way, they will not be together in the kingdom of heaven.
They should support each other on the spiritual way.
Suppose they lived together in sin, then one of them
repented and the other did not. They will be separated
after death; one will go to Paradise, and the other to
Hades. They will never meet in the eternal life and thus
their love is not everlasting. Perpetual love is spiritual.
Love has various kinds of domains.
There is love among family members - parents and
children, brothers and sisters, and husband and wife. All these kinds of love and relationships are approved by the Holy Bible and by nature.
There is the love of friends such as the love between
David and Jonathan of which David said after the death
of Jonathan, "I am distressed for you my brother
Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me, your love
to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women"
(2 Sam. 1:26).
It was pure love between two spirits.
On the other hand, love which has a physical relation such as that between husband and wife, is not permitted by the Holy Bible outside wedlock.
At this point we move to friendship: what is its concept? And what are its limits?
Friendship is a feeling of amiability which might be
between one man and another, one woman and another,
or among the members of one family or between two
families with their members whether men or women. It
might be between two sexes within the scope of spiritual
love without any physical feeling. A friend should be true
in friendship. He should be righteous so as to lead his
friend to goodness.
A friend who defends you when you do wrong and encourages you to continue is not a true friend.
Whoever does this is not your true friend. His love to
you is harmful. So you should choose your friends by
those who participate with you in righteousness and who
do not flatter you at the expense of truth nor encourage
you to do wrong.
There are different kinds of wrong love:
Love may be wrong in itself or in its means, its course or outcome.
An example of wrong means is the love Rebecca had for her son Jacob.
She wanted Jacob to have the blessing, but she resorted
to wrong means, which was to deceive his father. Thus
she exposed him to God's punishment, which was
followed by the deceit of Laban when he gave Leah to
marry instead of Rachel and when he changed his wages.
Jacob was also deceived by his own sons who pretended
that a wild beast devoured his son Joseph and he lived all
his life in turmoil.
Rebecca was also wrong in that her love was not
complete. She did not love Esau as she loved Jacob.
Jacob also, when he grew old, did not love all his children
in the same degree. He loved Joseph more than the
others and this made them jealous and sought to injure
The Lord wants us to love all people, even enemies and
those who offend us. It is also written, "If your enemy
hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink"
Whoever loves at the expense of others, has no love in his heart.
An example of this is Jezebel who loved her husband
King Ahab and helped him to take the vineyard of
Naboth. She devised a plan to accuse Naboth by false witnesses and put him to death. Thus her love for her husband was wrong love that led him to oppress and kill and to deserve the Lord's revenge (1 Kin. 21)
Love might be wrong with regard to its outcome.
An example is that of the women who admired David's
victory over Goliath and sang to him saying "Saul has
slain his thousands, and David his ten
thousands.”(1Sam. 18:7). Thus they implanted jealousy in Saul's heart that led him to maltreat David bitterly and seek to kill him.
Another example is of the people who kept shouting to Herod, "The voice of a god not of a man.”
(Acts 12:22). So, an angel of the Lord struck him, and he was eaten by worms and died because he did not give glory to God.
Another kind of wrong love is encouraging sinners.
An example of this is those who
throughout history and encouraged them creating a
popularity to support their theological mistakes. This
made them adhere to their heresies and heterodoxies and
thus the church ex-communicated them. They lost their
eternity, whereas if those followers had not encouraged
them, they would have forsaken their heresies for not
Some of those followers even continued to spread the views of the hereties after their death.
It is not love to encourage a person to continue in sin.
Nor is it love to defend him or support him financially.
But true love leads to repentance through revealing one's
mistake, reprimanding him for it and calling him to stop
Love which encourages one to sin is not love, as stated by the Holy Bible , "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 17:15).
A person who justifies the wicked out of love, loses God's love and becomes an abomination to Him. Even this love for the wicked leads him to perish eternally as he is considered taking part in sin and the responsibility for the sinful act, its results and punishment.
When such a person perishes, he who encouraged him
will be among the reasons that led to his perdition and at
the same time he will be deemed resisting Truth, who is
The mother who conceals the mistakes of her son, so
that his father may not know and punish him, does
not truly love her son but rather does him harm. She
corrupts him and destroys his character and his relation
Also the mother who spoils her son is in a
him. So the saying goes, 'Who makes you weep is
weeping for you, and who makes you laugh is laughing at
When you love a person, do not defend him in his wrong doing, but save him.
You can lead him to repentance, thus saving him and saving yourself of being condemned with him.
True love is to deliver him of his faults, or to justify his faults before others.
Reprimanding is therefore a kind of love.
Disciplining from those who have authority
is an evidence
of love as it is said about God- blessed be His name -
"For whom the Lord loves He corrects" (Prov. 3:12),
Some people - regretfully - think that punishment is
against love!! No, this is wrong; for punishment keeps
you from continuing in sin. If a sinner does not benefit
from it, the others will benefit as St. Paul the Apostle said
to his disciple St. Timothy, "Those who are sinning
rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear"
(1 Tim. 5:20).
Some people may think that love calls them to support others even in their wrong doings.
An example of this is the student who assists his colleague to cheat in the exams out of love for him! Or the father priest who helps one to conclude an illegal marriage claiming that he is helping a person to marry the one he loves; or the doctor who helps a girl who sinned to abort the child to avoid embarrassment.
Another example of wrong love is the husband who restrains his wife at home.
Restraining is not correct, but a husband should deepen his love for his wife so that she might be attached to him. The wife's love for God prevents her from deceiving her husband. Restraining and restricting the wife at home is a kind of selfishness which deprives her from enjoying her life without any fault on her part.
Over zealous love is also a wrong type of love.
An example of this is the love of Peter the
Apostle for the
Lord Christ. This love made him draw his sword and
strike the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear.
The Lord reprimanded him for that action (John
Another example of wrong love is the mother
who is over
protective of her children and their health, even preventing them from fasting. She may even ask his father confessor to prevent him.
Unlike this is the saintly mother who, in the days of
martyrdom, witnessed her children being martyred before
her eyes, even on her lap, and yet encouraged them in
When we speak about love, we mean true love which
results in one's salvation and success on the spiritual way.
True love is practical love.
St. John the Apostle said in this regard,
"Let us not love
in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth"
(1 John 3:18).
The parents' love for a child is practical love, for they
care for their nourishment, health, cleanliness and
education. They are also concerned with their spiritual
life; they instruct him in religion and encourage him in
The Song of Songs says concerning love, "Set me a seal
upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm" (Song 8:6).
The expression "a seal upon your
heart" means your
emotions and inner feelings, whereas the expression
"a seal upon your arm" means giving hand in work.
St. Peter the Apostle was not a seal upon
the heart when
he said, "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not
be... if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!."
(Mark 14:29,30). And when he denied, he was not a seal upon the arm.
So, a seal upon the heart refers to faith, and a seal upon the arm refers to works. Love for God requires both matters together, and love for people also requires feelings and work; for such is practical love.
With regard to pastors, the Holy Bible says, "The good
shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
Giving oneself is practical love.
God - the Good Shepherd - as mentioned in the Holy
Bible, "demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom.
It was practical love demonstrated in the Incarnation, Crucifixion and redemption.
Love is an emotion expressing itself in action
The Lord says, "My son, give Me your
(Prov.23:26). Does this mean that God wants mere
emotions? No, for He says immediately after, "And let
your eyes observe My ways." Here love is required
together with action. Thus the Lord says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" (John 14:23), and also, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love" (John 15:10).
Love for God is not theoretical love, nor mere emotions.
Your love for God is demonstrated in your obedience to Him and in keeping His commandments. It is revealed also in spreading His kingdom on earth, in serving Him and in serving His church and His children.
But to say that you love God while you are doing
nothing, is mere theoretical love which is not acceptable.
Here I remember with great admiration, those who
preached God's word in countries where people are
This is the sacrificing love; the love of a
person who gives
people God's word to feed on, even if some of them feed
The relationship with God:
When we speak about love, we do not only speak about
dealings among people but rather more about the
relationship with God. When the Lord Christ was talking
with the Father about His relationship with His disciples
in the famous Chapter of John chapter 17, He said, "I
have given to them the words which You have given Me"
(John 17:8), "And I have declared to them Your name and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26).
It is a relationship involving recognition and love as well as sacrifice.
We find an example of this in the words of St. Paul the
Apostle about his ministry, "in journey often, in perils of
waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own
countrymen... in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and
toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in
fastings often, in cold and nakedness..."
(2 Cor. 11:26,27).
You would ask St. Paul: Is this ministry? And I can imagine him replying: It is rather love.
As for you, is your love for God mere words or
Does your love involve sacrifice and giving and the spreading of God's word?
Does your love involve control over your tongue, thoughts and lusts?
Does love appear in your prayers, ministry and forbearance?
Do you say in your prayer with the Psalmist : "I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness" (Ps. 63:4).
Is your ministry a kind of love as that of the Lord Christ of whom it was said, "having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (John 13:1).
True love is also without hypocrisy (Rom. 12:9).
This should be the kind of love whether towards God or towards people.
Let not our hearts be different from our tongue and our tongue from our emotions.
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