Love is, above all, the gift of oneself. ~Jean Anouilh

Love. No word in the English language is more used or less understood.

• I love you.
• I love my car.
• I love Mexican food.
• I love to sleep late.
• I love my family.
• I love God.

All the same word in our English language … all with different levels of meaning and application. So what is love? Can we really know if we are walking in love, as God commanded? Let's explore the different levels of love.

Love 101 – Here we find 'love' used as an impersonal expression toward an inanimate object. "I love my kitchen … car … yard." Or, "I love to travel … knit … read." At this level, love has no interaction. It has a sense of commitment or value, but not relationship. It is not really love, only a strong interest or liking.

Love 201 - This level is governed by physical senses. It includes emotion, action, pleasure, passion and romance. It can also be skewed by lust and craving. Known as Eros to the Greeks, it has little depth or commitment. Eros is shallow and selfish, seeking pleasure without responsibility or reciprocity.

Love 301 – Love deepens with friendship, affection and appreciation. Philos love is more than just physical appreciation or delight. It involves mental commitment. We accept that relationships at this level require give-and-take; however, if it is not supported by positive feelings, it wanes. The problem with this level is that is it still governed by our selfish human nature.

Love 401 - Agape – the God kind of love is spiritual, unwavering and unselfish. It is the ultimate expression of love with no expectation of response. Agape is love by faith. It is how we were created and how God wants us to be. Agape-Love is decision-based, not feeling-based.

God-love is the PhD we should be conscious of and work toward all of our lives. The Bible uses the word 'love' (566 times in AMP, 442 in KJV) to demonstrate God's love for us, and how we should respond.

Love is part of the Blessing, part of our covenant with God. He said we would BE Blessed TO BE a Blessing. We were created by Love and we receive His love, so we can give love. Here are a few examples.

1. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:21) Keep yourself. We do this. Stay conscious of God's love and mercy. When tempted to lash out or nurse emotional wounds, remember God's love and mercy. We are created in His image, so we also should give love and mercy – no exceptions!

2. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 1:6) Remember the man who came to Jesus and asked Him how to receive eternal life? He told Jesus, "I have kept all the commandments my whole life." God has given us, His Church, only one commandment - Love.

3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (I John 5:3) Grief, anger, jealousy – every negative emotion – has no place in love. The commandments were given to us by Love, in love. They are for our protection, provision and support, to keep us always in the Blessing flow. Don't let anything block the Blessing of God.

4. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (I Peter 3:10) An evil tongue speaks things contrary to God's Word. Guile is deceit, deception. It manipulates in an effort to get its own way. We all know people who do it, and if we're honest with ourselves, we do it, too.

First John is known as the Love Chapter. For more examples of how to walk in Love, read and meditate on John's writings. Become ever-conscious of Love and diligently block (take them captive, the Bible says in 2 Cor. 10:5) all those thoughts and feelings that run contrary to Love.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a different car, suddenly there are hundreds of them on the road – just like yours? You became aware of them. Love is the same. As you focus on Love, you will begin to see it all around you. You'll be drawn to it, and will draw it toward you. Soon, you'll be walking in love, living in joy, and surrounded by peace. Just keep working on your Love PhD!

Author's Bio: 

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Ruth Seebeck has built a reputation over more than three decades as a Christian author, speaker, life-skills coach, mentor, and friend. “What should you do when you don’t know what to do?” Ruth helps clients work through the transitions in their lives and find clarity with a Christian perspective. Spiritually based life skills development and personal coaching increase self esteem through greater personal awareness and more effective decision-making.