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In C.S Lewis’ brilliant exposition on the nature of love, “The Four Loves”, he discusses four categories of love based in part on the four Greek words for love: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. Prior to devoting the bulk of his work on these categories, Lewis begins the discussion by delving into three types of loves as seen from the human perspective: need-love, gift-love, and appreciative-love.

Three Types of Love
According to Lewis, need-love comes out of our desire to be loved and taken care of (a child needing to be loved). Gift-love comes out of a desire to love and care for others (a mother caring for a child). But appreciative-love is of a higher order, and the most desirable of all the loves. Why? Because it is a supernatural form of love expressed solely on the basis that the object of the appreciative-love is deemed worthy to be loved.

Lewis insists all three types of love must be expressed towards God for our good and his glory. As Lewis explains, “Need-Love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or suffer for, God; Appreciative-love says: ‘We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.”

There is something special in appreciative-love I wish to expound on, because in it we see a deep expression of our true heart’s desire towards God.

Love of a Higher Order
Appreciative-love loves a thing not because it needs something, nor because it wants to give something, but because of the something—because that something actually exists or is deemed worthy to be loved.

Of course at one level, out of necessity, we all must traffic in need-love and gift-love. These types of love are necessary and flow from the very nature of God. But it is the appreciative-love that gazes in wonder; that rejoices in the mere existence of something; that would rather love something than to never have loved it at all.

Appreciative-love towards God is best seen when we love God just for being God. It is best realized when we say, “If I never receive another good gift from his hands, I will love him more still because he is good.” “Good” in this case does not mean he does good or pleasant things for us, but instead means he is beautiful and wonderful and absolutely worthy to be loved by all.

Appreciative-love towards God is a love satisfied with God, and needs nothing else to supplement the relationship. It is a love that never sours, grows old, becomes irrelevant, or loses the flame. Appreciative-love is rooted in the principle of God’s immutability, which means God never changes. The same God we love today will be the same God we love tomorrow, and for the rest of eternity.

A Love Given
But make no mistake; this is not a love we can conjure up. This is a love given to those who ask for it from the Father. It is a love God graciously gives us, so we may love him more. Do not suppose you can exert the right amount of love-induced passion for God that is needed to produce appreciative-love.

On the contrary, as John described, “Love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Any form of love must come from the gracious hand of God; it cannot be manufactured by any human agency.

So then, we are left with the most solemn of tasks: to love our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might. But one may ask, “How do we do this?”
I leave you then with the Holy Spirit and these words to provide the answer: “Is it easy to love God?” asks an old author. “It is easy, he replies, “to those who do it.”

Pray today that God would awaken in you an appreciative-love for him.

 

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