If you’ve ever studied love in the Bible or heard a message preached on love, you probably learned that there are many different Greek words translated as love (three in the New Testament): philia, or brotherly love; eros, or romantic love, and agape, or unconditional love. As I was preparing this message last night, it occurred to me that Greek was the known language at the time of the New Testament so that the Gospel could spread throughout the world, but Hebrew is the language of God. So I did a little research into the Hebrew word for love, and what I found rocked my world.
If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you may be familiar with the study I did a couple of years back on the Hebrew alphabet and the meanings of each letter. If not, please be encouraged to go back and study some of those, especially the ones we will look at today. The Hebrew word translated love in the Bible is ahava, which comes from the root aheb or ahav. The three letters of this root are aleph, hey, and vet or bet. Aleph means “father,” specifically “the Father” and is also a modifier meaning “I.” Hey denotes “behold” or “the wonder of God.” Vet or bet signifies “house or dwelling.”
Taken together, this root means “Behold, the wonder of God is that He comes to dwell with us” or more specifically, “I give.”
I, the Father, give.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave…” (John 3:16, NIV).
“For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given…(Isaiah 9:6).
That is the Hebrew definition of love. From my study I found that this Hebrew word involves the action of giving, and not just an emotion. Ahava shares a root with another word that means “to nurture or devote completely to another.”
Now, God has given us many things: His Son, His Spirit, His Word, salvation, healing, deliverance, provision, protection, eternal life. I could go on and on and quote a Scripture for each of these. But one thing we can always be sure of is that He will always give us truth.
“I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:19b).
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6b).
“But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
God loves us by giving, and He gives us His truth. So what does that mean for us? We love others by giving them the truth.
We give of ourselves, we give sacrificially, we put others above ourselves, but we never withhold the truth of God’s Word. Period. To deny His truth because we want to appear “loving” is actually the most hateful thing we can do for someone, because God’s Word is life. Apart from His Word, we are offering death.
As Christians, we must let our light shine in the darkness, but not allow the world’s version of “truth” to cause us to compromise God’s truth. And that IS love.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-16).
What the world needs now is God’s love. And God’s love is truth–not what is true for me or true for you–God’s truth which is found in His Word.
If you haven’t seen this video yet, please take a minute to watch. Let’s pray for God’s love–giving Truth–to permeate our world today.