The Mixed Meanings of Certain Words


There are many words in the English language that have multiple meanings, but these two are particularly problematic from a philosophical and spiritual point of view.


We often use the word love to mean intense feelings of enjoyment and appreciation. For example: I love eating pizza, I love sleeping outside under the stars, and I love the way she sings. This usage of the word focuses on what we receive.

We also use the word love to mean personal care and feelings of affection for others. For example: she loves her children unselfishly, he loved his wife faithfully throughout their marriage,  God is love, and I love you. This usage of the word focuses on what we desire to give of ourselves to another person.

And there is a third usage of the word love, which seems to me to combine elements of both of the previous meanings. It is the worshipful appreciation of the life gifts that one receives from God blended with the deeply felt personal desire to give oneself completely (heart, mind, and soul) to God in faithful partnership and universal family service. For example: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

The opposite of love (as defined above) is hate, selfishness, doubt, and cowardice.


The word pride can be confusing because it has both a good and an evil meaning. The good pride refers to moral integrity and self-respect. For example: he took pride in his work (and therefore did a consistently good job), and she was proud of her decision to stand up against sexual harassment. The negative or evil pride refers to an obsession with self-image and unwillingness to admit error. It often leads to presumption and an overblown sense of self-importance. For example: his pride blinded him to his own shortcomings, her pride made it difficult to say that she was sorry, and they were too proud to ask God for help. And from Proverbs: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

The opposite of pride (in the negative sense described above) is humility, meaning the willingness to learn from one's mistakes and gratitude for the correction provided by others. This is what it means to "turn the other cheek".