It’s that time of the year again. On the 14th of February, social media platforms will be filled with pictures of couples posting the gifts given, dinner shared and love mutually received. Valentine’s day shows romantic love at its finest and is a reminder of what joy love can bring. But after Valentine’s Day ends, does the love? Can the love that appears to be so rampant on Valentine’s Day be continued all year round?
God is Love
Before we take about the love shared between a man and woman, we must first consider the origin of love. The Bible makes it clear that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Any love that is shared between mankind must be understood in light of the purest form of love. C.S Lewis differentiates between the divine love, the love that derives from God; and the lower form of love, love that is shared between humans. We will only rightly love people if we first understand God’s love towards us and Himself. This is how the Bible testifies of this love “By this, the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). Love by its nature is both sacrificial and inviting. God shows His love for us by sending His Son to die for sinners so that sinners might be brought into an eternal relationship with God. This dynamic truth ought to be the foundation by which all romantic relationships thrive.
Love is sweet. There’s nothing like being cared for, wanted and served by the woman or man that you love. But we will not be able to love well if we do not root our understanding of love in God. Whilst love can be expressed in various ways, the Bible repeatedly describes love as sacrificial. In fact, that is how we first encounter love. In Genesis 22, love is first mentioned within the context of Abraham sacrificing his only begotten son. In light of the New Testament, we now understand that this scenario was a foreshadowing of God sacrificing His only begotten Son for the world (Genesis 22:2, John 3:16). In a world that encourages self-love, the Bible calls us to love others even to the inconvenience of ourselves. If we want to love our partners well, we have to leave room for pain, disappointment and betrayal. There is no other way to mirror the love that Jesus displays than to give love without the guarantee of it being reciprocated. After all, isn’t this how love ought to be demonstrated within marriage? Isn’t this the high call that Paul appeals for men to illustrate within marriage (Ephesians 5:25)? If we want to have fulfilling relationships that go beyond the beautifully crafted posts on Instagram, we have to love this way. We have to be willing to love in such a way that leaves plenty of room for vulnerability. We can only learn to love this way when we rest in the One who loves us in this way. Do you want that forever love? Well, look to Jesus who will love you forever and strive to mirror that (Ephesians 5:1-2).