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Lust or Love? Think about it.

"Lust or Love" isn't often a topic of discussion when people gather together for brunch/lunch, dinner or just to hang out. I was inspired to write this reflective thought about this topic when VJ (my wife Vanessa) and I were facilitating a pre-marital class on intimacy during the July 4th weekend. One of the couples asked the question: "Is it ok to lust after your spouse?" Everyone in the room, including VJ, looked at me to see what response I would give. I have encountered this question in private meetings with couples in the past. However, it was the first time I was being asked the question in a public or group setting. A couple of weeks later, VJ shared with me that one of the couples from the class had approached her and told her that my answer had brought clarity to how they viewed true love. I realized that there may be other people who struggle with the difference between lust and love.

I have defined and believe lust to be an out-of-balance, selfish desire for someone or something. Lust is defined by Dictionary.com as "uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite, a passionate or over mastering desire or craving (usually followed by for): a lust for power." The Bible speaks about lust as a desire for the world and the flesh.

1 JOHN 2:16 AMP:  "For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one's resources or in the stability of earthly things]— these do not come from the Father, but are from the world."

The Apostle John tells us, in essence, that lust is a desire to pursue the things the world values; and that it has nothing to do with God. The driving force behind lust is always to satisfy our selfish, self-centered desires. An individual controlled by his or her lustful desires will never consider others who are impacted by their actions, when lust is the fuel that influences them. The Apostle John also goes on to say the following:

1 JOHN 2:17a AMP:  "The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]..."

From a practical perspective, lust is a temporary feeling that will never be satisfied. The individual who is driven by their lustful desires will never reach a place of satisfaction. They will always want more and more. Whether it is a question of material possessions, fame or notoriety, sexual pleasure, etc., the person will become obsessed with their lust. It will consume them and eventually cause them to behave in a manner they could never imagine.

Love, on the other hand, is defined by Dictionary.com as "a profoundly tender, passionate affection towards another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection; a person toward whom love is felt; beloved; sweetheart." The Bible explains how love is expressed:

1 JOHN 4:7 AMP:  "Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]."

The Love that is expressed here in the Greek is Agape (unconditional love). This love is not necessarily expressed through emotions; it's having the best interests of the other person at heart‹ an unselfish concern and willingness toward them. This is totally the opposite of lust on so many levels. The capacity for someone to love his or her spouse, based on God's standard, can come only from him, and not from the world. The Bible tells us that "God is love"; and when we reflect on his love for us, we realize how much we are to love others. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "Love asks for nothing in return, but seeks those who need it." Love is always driven by the needs of others, rather than the desire to satisfy self. 

When we consider how love is misrepresented, based on the world's standard, we recognize that what we sometimes call love is really motivated by lust, and not the true love that the Bible talks about. Its foundational principle is a desire for power to control or manipulate others. The foundational principle of love, on the other hand, is selfless and sacrificial behavior towards others, in consideration of what is in their best interest.

God expressed how much he loved us by sending Jesus into the world to die for our sins. He put our best interests and need for a Savior first, and he sent his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die for our sins, so we could be forgiven and redeemed and have eternal life.

What will you be driven by, Lust or Love? Think about it. 

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