I love food.
I love my friends.
I love my bike.
I love my parents.
I love coffee.
I love my wife.
I love a good-writing pen.
I love my son.
I love my pets.
I love the triune God.
The problem with "love" is that English has only one word for one of the most complex feelings we can have. While at times we are frustrated with the people we love, it's because we love them that we become frustrated with them.
Obviously, my use of the word "love" above varies greatly based on the object of my affection. But, with only one word for love, how can we tell them apart? How can we express the difference between the uses?
A great aspect about love is it requires an object to receive the affection. This person or object doesn't even have to return the feeling in order for it to exist. God loves every person on earth, but not every person loves God in return. That does not diminish God's love for that person.
I've never learned Greek and honestly, had to Google the words below to make sure I got them correct. The one thing I do know about Greek is that there are numerous words for what we translate as love. And I love this aspect of the language.
Greek: (definitions from wikipedia.org)
- Agape - love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.
- Eros - intimate love, romantic love
- Philia - affectionate regard; friendship usually between equals
- Storge - natural affection, especially of parents and children; a familial love
- Love - a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection - the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another". It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals.
While there are plenty of things I say "I love" there are few I tell, "I love you." Perhaps that's the best way to distinguish the difference. So, if it is, let's say, "I love you," with greater frequency.