An excellent movie and an excellent article…
5 Simple Lessons on Love from Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting is one of Robin Williams’ greatest films.
After Williams’ death in 2014, the bench he sat on with Matt Damon in the film became an icon with flowers and quotes written on the ground below it.
On this bench in Boston’s Public Garden, Williams articulated words that brought about a significant turn in the movie.
Having watched the film a number of times, I’ve come to realize its intensity and importance.
Its messages and lessons are unquestionably abundant. Nevertheless, it highlights a crucial idea that exists in everybody’s life: the idea of love.
As I watched Good Will Hunting, I realized that there is a Sean (Robin Williams) and a Will (Matt Damon) in every one of us.
Sean, Will’s psychologist, is a giver who holds tremendous love for his wife, who passed away. Will, on the other hand, loves a girl named Skylar, but has built a wall to protect himself from getting hurt.
While forming a unique relationship, Sean and Will open our eyes to these remarkable lessons on love…
We find in the Bible that the ancient Greeks had six different words to describe love, whereas we only have one in English.
1. Eros, or sexual passion – The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire.
But the Greeks didn’t always think of it as something positive, as we tend to do today. In fact, eros was viewed as a dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you—an attitude shared by many later spiritual thinkers, such as the Christian writer C.S. Lewis.
Eros involved a loss of control that frightened the Greeks. Which is odd, because losing control is precisely what many people now seek in a relationship. Don’t we all hope to fall “madly” in love?
2. Philia, or deep friendship – The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of eros.
Philia concerned the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield.
It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them.
(Another kind of philia, sometimes called storge, embodied the love between parents and their children.)
We can all ask ourselves how much of this comradely philia we have in our lives. It’s an important question in an age when we attempt to amass “friends” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter—achievements that would have hardly impressed the Greeks.
3. Ludus, or playful love – This was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers.
We’ve all had a taste of it in the flirting and teasing in the early stages of a relationship. But we also live out our ludus when we sit around in a bar bantering and laughing with friends, or when we go out dancing.
Dancing with strangers may be the ultimate ludic activity, almost a playful substitute for sex itself.
Social norms may frown on this kind of adult frivolity, but a little more ludus might be just what we need to spice up our love lives.
4. Agape, or love for everyone – The fourth love, and perhaps the most radical, was agape or selfless love.
This is the love that we find defined in the Bible, as the God kind of love, which He beats towards us, which He also intends for us to bear for others.
As we read first Corinthians 13, where this Agape-love is defined, we learned that it has nothing whatsoever to do with our feelings, but rather it’s all about a decision that you make towards the other individual, based on the value which God sees in them.
This is a love which, as Christians, we are to extended to ALL people, whether family members or distant strangers.
The word “Agape” was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word “charity.”
C.S. Lewis referred to it as “gift love,” the highest form of Christian love.
There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade.
We urgently need to revive our capacity to care about strangers.
5. Pragma, or longstanding love – Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples.
Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.
The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.”
Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it.
With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, the Greeks would surely think we should bring a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.
6. Philautia, or love of the self – The Greek’s sixth variety of love was philautia or self-love. And the clever Greeks realized there were two types.
One was an unhealthy variety associated with narcissism, where you became self-obsessed and focused on personal fame and fortune.
A healthier version enhanced your wider capacity to love.
The idea was that if you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others. Or, as Aristotle put it, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”
The Bible tells us that the most important of these various kinds of “Love,” which we only have one word for in English, is a Agape; and this is how it is described:
1 Corinthians 13
Living Bible (TLB)
1 If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise.
2 If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love.
3 If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.
4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud,
5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
8 All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge—these gifts will disappear.
9 Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor.
10 But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end, and they will disappear.
11 It’s like this: when I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I became a man my thoughts grew far beyond those of my childhood, and now I have put away the childish things.
12 In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.
13 There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Since we know from the Bible that God is love (1 John 4:8), in each one of the above versus, where it says “love is,” it would be perfectly appropriate to insert the word God for love, because this is how He loves and treats us.
It’s also how He expects us, as Christians – as His Light and Love distributors in the earth, to treat those around us.
As we read about this Agape-love, we find there no strings attached; and as I said before, neither are our feelings attached to it.
Agape-love is all about our making a decision to treat others and love them the way God loves us, and also the way we would want to be loved ourselves.
It’s about our getting ourselves out-of-the-way and giving God permission to love others through us!
It’s the kind of love that we read that Corrie ten Boom had, whose life was portrayed in the movie called the Hiding Place; when after having lost her entire family in a Nazi concentration camp, she was later – after a Christian meeting – confronted by one of her Nazi tormentors, after he had become a Christian.
She said that there was nothing inside of her that wanted to embrace this man, but as a Christian she gave God permission to love him through her.
This is a what Agape-love looks like in practice.
Come join the Adventure!
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
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