The Greeks had different words for different kinds of love. Agape was the love for mankind, the no strings attached kind of love. Phileo was the word used to describe love between friends. Eros was the word used for romantic love. In our language we only use one word for all kinds of love. In my opinion we lose meaning by overusing it.

When most of us were looking for a mate we started by finding someone we were attracted to; eros. Once the “connection” was made we would try and find things we had in common; phileo. If we found one or two things in common with them we would think we found a real gem! Then somewhere down the line (usually after marriage) we would try and develop the agape love and bring God into the equation.

The problem with tackling relationships this was is that it is like swimming upstream; it’s difficult. God had a much different plan for us. His desire is for us to develop a deep intimate relationship with him and to give the love he gives to us, to others; agape. As we are giving this agape love we look around and discover others doing the same things we are, who have the same love for God and the same interests; phileo. As these friendships deepen over time we can eventually choose one to see if we can develop the appropriate level of romance with; eros.

When we approach relationships from this direction it is a lot less work and it increases the chances of success. Taking God’s path may take us a little while longer, so pleasure will have to be delayed, but the end result is that you will be with someone who believes like you, does ministry like you, plays like you, and someone you are attracted to! Wow! Wouldn’t that be better than trying to “make it work?”

Interestingly enough, I have found that most single people have difficulties getting involved in agape love. Working with them I have discovered that there are two levels of Agape Activities: one is with God and the other is with others.

Agape Activities with God are activities like: prayer, reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, being quiet and just being with God. Agape Activities with God are any activities that bring you closer to Him! What I have found is that when people do know about agape love, these are the only activities they think of. And lets face it, how many hours of our day can we spend doing this? We need interaction with people too, right?

Right! That is where the second level of Agape Activities comes in: Agape Activities with others. These are things you can do for others that help them, but offer no reward in return. They may not even thank you! These activities may include: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting people in prison, taking care of widows and orphans, or just listening to someone.

Agape Activities with others is basically doing ministry, and ministry is defined: “meeting needs.” It doesn’t have to be a spiritual need. In fact, it may be a bunch of menial labor for awhile as you develop the relationship and the opportunity to discuss spiritual things.

Agape Activities are important to be involved in because they do fill our emotional tanks, so to speak. When we get involved in this area of love our need to be with someone complete diminishes. And when it is time we can enjoy an appropriate eros (romantic) relationship instead of needing it.

Weather you are married or single, take some time to write down three Agape Activities you can do today on each level: with God and with others. Commit to do one of each level everyday this week. I would be willing to bet that your other relationships will go a lot smoother when you do!

Johnny Walker is a Christian Counselor and the founder of Family Works Counseling.

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