Recently I made a mistake buying a bag of dog feed. Haste made waste. I looked at the breakdown of percentages of protein, fat, etc, but I forgot to check the ingredients.
The previous bags were purchased at a discount when the local K-Mart was going out of business. They were expensive because they were primarily chicken. The puppy liked them a lot.
The recent bag was mostly corn. The pup noticed immediately and began a hunger strike. The bag contained dog feed, but the ingredients weren’t as “real.”
When someone tells you they love you, it is usually easy to discern what they mean. Almost everyone is going to mean something like what Greeks in the first century called “eros.” It is a desire for something. In today’s English an equivalent could be “like a lot.”
Rare and valuable is an alternative type of love that Paul mentioned in his letter to the churches in Galatia (5:22, 23). “Agape” is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus. Since I measure maturity by how quickly a person responds to a situation with the fruit of the Spirit, I suggest that if the person telling you they love you aren’t mature believers, they won’t mean this.
If you really need to experience agape, don’t be discouraged or disappointed if all you receive is eros or maybe phileo, which is a tribal or family type of affection that some people would have in mind if they said they loved you. You can only experience agape through someone who is a vessel through whom you can experience something of Jesus.
You can draw it through them, like the bleeding woman drew power through Jesus (Luke 8). You can pray for the Lord to use someone to show you His love.
You can teach people how to love with agape who haven’t learned to love with powerful love yet, by loving them that way. That’s what worked for Jesus. We love because He first loved us.