The Three Levels

When looking at the New Testament, we see a lot of examples of the word “love”.  In the original Greek there are two forms that are most commonly used to describe the English word “love” – Agape and Phileo.  Briefly stated, Agape love is the highest form, and most associated with God’s love which surpasses our human understanding, while Phileo is akin to friendship or family love, possibly the highest humans can express except through the Holy Spirit of God.

But, in this post I want to talk about three levels of love.  I don’t have labels for these three levels, but they are progressive, meaning that as we go from one level to the next it encompasses all of the characteristics of the lower levels, plus some new ones.  So, we start with Level 1 love.

Level 1 – this type of love is involved in attraction, and bonding with individuals on some common interests, charm, wit, even physical attributes.  It is powerful, and not to be ignored, as it might be stated that most marriages start with this level.  Level 1 level is generally dependent on reciprocation, simply meaning that we expect something in return for giving our love to an individual.

Level 2 – encompasses all of the elements of Level 1, but adds to it the concept of accepting one’s differences.  Differences in opinion, likes and dislikes, and other things too.  It is more than simply tolerating those differences, but includes an understanding and sensitivity that we are not all the same, and in order for love to progress beyond Level 1 we must be willing to embrace differences in those we love, as well as those things we have in common.  In some cases, these differences can pull people in separate directions, but in the best of cases it can result in achieving a higher level of love.

Level 3 – ah, here we go.  Of course, Level 3 includes all the elements of Levels 1 and 2, but adds something new – the concept of forgiveness of faults.  Not just recognition and acceptance of faults, but true ‘living’ forgiveness of our faults and failures.  I say ‘living’ because it is not a one-time thing, but a living and growing thing.  Forgiveness goes beyond toleration of faults, but moves into the realm of God, Himself.  We are not happy about the failures of others, but we are not happy about our own faults, either.  Level 3 recognizes that without forgiveness we are living on slippery ground in our relationships.  The only to really understand Level 3 is to examine what the Bible says about God’s love towards us.  God loves us, not only when we are good, but when we are bad, also.  He doesn’t want us to do bad, but He loves us anyways.  We fail, we stumble, we have faults and weaknesses, but God loves us through all these.  The power of this love makes us get up and try again, and strive to do better.  This loves does not give up or fail.  Level 3 goes one step further – it loves even when that love brings pain and heartache to our lives because of the failures or mistakes of others.  Level 3 is not achieved through automatic means, but must be constantly maintained and kept active through effort, commitment, and a genuine understanding of the frailty and humanness of others.  Level 3 love takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.  Level 3 cannot survive without some, or all, the elements in Levels 1 and 2.  Level 3 does not depend on reciprocation or reward, but is instead a choice.  Level 3 is not an emotion that fluctuates up and down with how we feel at the moment.

It has been said that we can never achieve Agape love, because it is so much higher than human love.  I’m not so sure.  If we want to love as God loves, then we must strive for Level 3.

Final note – it is important to distinguish between love at Level 3 and a destructive or abusive love, which is a distortion of the true thing.  Destructive or abusive love is where one individual constantly takes advantage and inflicts damage or hurt on another, but the receiver contains to love the abuser.  This is not Godly, or even in the same ballpark as what we have been talking about.  There are times when a relationship should end, because God does not expect us to endure constant pain and suffering inflicted without concern from a partner or friend.  Your love may continue, but the relationship may have to be brought to a closure, in order for you to achieve your God-given purpose and life.

One Response to “The Three Levels”

  1. Barbara L. McGuire Says:

    Great explanation of the different kinds of love! I pray daily and ask God to give me the kind of love that He has for people (although I do realize that can never be accomplished) but I have noticed that I look at people differently than I used to before I began praying this way. It helps one to see people in a different light but as we all know, we could never come close to understanding the depth of love He has for us. Great blog! Blessings…..

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