The Greek language has many different words for love.
Eros - passionate love
Phileo - brotherly love
Storge - love for things
Agape - unconditional love
It’s interesting that the first three are feelings, emotions or preference. But only one of these is commanded. It’s often said you can’t coach desire, and that’s true. You cannot command feelings. But commands necessitate choice and choice necessitates options. Agape is a choice, not a feeling. This is why it is the only love that is commanded of us.
When you understand this you will begin to understand things like the security of the believer. God agape’d us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He chose to love, based on His choice.
Agape is a love that doesn’t love for itself. It doesn’t love so it will be reciprocated. It doesn’t love because of how it makes me feel. It loves because it makes a conscious decision to do so, regardless of external factors. And agape begets agape. Choosing to love comes as a result of someone else choosing to love you.
Agape is truthful. Unlike emotional love which has some aspect selfish gain or reciprocation in it, agape doesn’t endorse a lie so it will be reciprocated. Emotional love begets emotional love. It is shaky and only as secure as it is able and willing to be reciprocated. Selfish love can be lured away by a better offer, by a better response. This is why Jesus said He was both truth and love. A truth based love isn’t afraid to be honest. Because it’s not looking for affirmation. A truth based love can have the hard conversations because irregardless of the response the conscious choice to love has already been made.
Agape has such deep meaning that honestly I struggle with it. But I see how focusing on God the Fathers choice to love me affects my desire to follow Him in truth and love. It’s a daily struggle, a spiritual battle. Staying continually focused on this is what it is to walk in the Spirit. Doing so yields further spiritual fruit. And the cycle becomes self supporting. But yielding to the fleshly side is also a choice. It too yields fruit. Fruit that leads to the hardening of the heart, a greater desire for selfish love and a decreased desire to choose to love. It too is self supporting.
So we ought to take care, lest our heart become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, fleshly desires and selfish gain. Pursuing the flesh begets a greater desire to pursue the flesh. Pursuing the Spirit begets a greater desire to pursue the Spirit. And thus choice becomes our weapon and our heart the battlefield.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Galatians 5:16-26 ESV