Most people know the difference between lust and love so what are they? What does the Bible define as love and as lust?
A Definition of Lust
Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body and it can take nearly any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It is an overwhelming self-absorbed desire or craving for an object, person, or experience that might be good but in most cases, is not. For example, a man or a woman can lust after their spouse and since they are legally married, there is no sin in this, however lusting after someone else’s spouse or someone who’s not married is sin, so clearly, lust and love aren’t the same at all and in many ways, they are actually opposites of one another, for example we can lust after riches, for drugs, for alcohol, and for any number of things that are detrimental to our wellbeing.
A Definition of Love
The way the world defines love and the way that God defines love are not even close to the same thing. As far as the world sees, love is a strong and warm affection that someone has for another or others or for something. It could be like that of a parent for a child or a spouse for their mate or it could be a love for reading, eating, drugs, alcohol, or even shopping. Some of these are good and well, but others can lead to ruin. Love can certainly be a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from a kinship or close friendship, which I have for my own spouse and children and grandchildren and even for my friends but from the biblical standpoint, love and lust are no co-equals since one can be good, while the other can lead to harm.
A Biblical Definition of Lust
I like what C.S. Lewis wrote many years ago. He wrote “If you look upon ham and eggs and lust, you have already committed breakfast in your heart.” This is a very good, biblical definition of lust in the heart. If you covet something or someone, that is lusting in the heart. Exodus 20:17 lists the tenth commandment as “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” so lust is not just about looking at someone of the opposite sex, or for some, looking at someone with lust of the same sex, it is coveting what you don’t have. It is a passionate desire to have what someone else has.
What Lust Can Lead To
David let his lust carry him away as “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful” (2nd Sam 11:2) and so he lusted after her in his heart. This led to adultery and later, to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. This is why James wrote that “after desire (or lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). The proverbs say “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (6:25). Jesus said that it was “out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19). Solomon understood this connection, writing that as a man “thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7a). You can commit adultery without ever committing the physical act. Jesus said that “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28) and of course the same thing applies to women.
A Biblical Definition of Love
There are so many places that define love in the Bible that it will be hard to select only a few. Paul writes that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1st Cor 13:4-7). The love of God is not about feelings or words but “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Love is a verb; it is what you do more than what you say or what you think. We know that Jesus did not feel like taking on all of the sins of humanity, but His great love for us on the cross proved what the love of God is like. He died for us while we were still wicked sinners and His enemies (Rom 5:8, 10).
The differences between love and lust are that we don’t covet what we don’t have. We shouldn’t covet (lust after) our neighbor’s spouse or their goods (Ex 20:17). Love, on the other hand, “does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10) and this means “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:19) but above all “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The difference for believers is that we are told “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). The greatest display of love was not what Jesus felt or what God feels but it was revealed at Calvary. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and that’s just what He did. Lust harms, love sacrifices.
**By Jack Wellman at what Christians wat to know / Photo by Mark Stebnicki at Pexels
During the fourteenth century Raynald III, was a duke in what is now Belgium. As the result of a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward successfully revolted against him. When Edward captured Raynald he built a room around him featuring windows and a door and promised him that the day he left the room his title and property would be returned to him.
This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size, he was seriously overweight.
In order to regain his freedom, Raynald needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.
Anytime someone accused Duke Edward of treating Raynald cruelly he said: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”
Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year… He was a prisoner of his own appetite.
Just as Raynald was enslaved by his appetite, sin will enslave all those who yield to it. What enslaves you? The things you are struggling with today could be avoided if you stopped giving in to them. Pray and ask the Lord to help you be an overcomer in areas that you’re struggling with. Fasting is a great way to discipline one self and exercise self control, in buffeting the body.
1 John 2:16 ~ For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
Hebrews 12:1~ Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
** The three Edwards by Thomas B Costain / Picture by Jimmy Chan at Pexels
If we are not careful, we will spend an entire lifetime wishing for the things we do not yet have. So often I myself am guilty of this, so today I want to encourage you not to wish one more minute of your precious life away. We must carry hope with us. In fact, Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” We must hope and pray for the good things God has in store for our lives, but we must also embrace right where we are because today is a day you will never get back. If we do not guard our hearts diligently, discontentment will rob you of everything good in your life if you allow it too. But we can fight discontentment by digging up the things in our heart that shouldn’t be there and replacing them with good things.
There are many roots of discontentment, so today I want to challenge you to find the cause of those roots, dig them up, and plant seeds of thankfulness and gratitude. You don’t have to worry about your future because God already has it written in the palm of His hand. And if God is already there, you can bet it’s going to be something wonderful. Bitterness, envy, and anxiety breed discontentment, but thankfulness breeds contentment. Gratitude will overflow into every area of your life.
Practice thankfulness in this moment, no matter what your situation may be. Just as the apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4:8, set your minds on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, honourable, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Don’t allow discontentment to rob you of today’s blessings.