Who's the best lover you've ever had? The answer is likely different than you think.
I'm sure it's no secret to you: None of us love well. Because, frankly, it's just easier to be selfish. The Bible says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). But I didn't believe this was really true about me for years. I just wasn't that terrible, I thought.
But over the years of my adulthood, I've discovered that the words of Jeremiah 17:9 are more than true.
To love well is not to simply follow your heart, I learned, because my heart wanted to lash out or punish with silence far more often than it wanted to forgive in love. In fact, rejecting the feelings of my heart and obeying the Spirit of God instead proved more difficult than doing what felt right. I found the only way to love is to let Jesus love through me. When I come to Him admitting I am broken and sinful, He can give me His love, and by His grace I am changed.
This may seem like a silly question, but can you swim without getting in the water? Can you snow ski without first getting the gear, riding a chair lift to the top, and following the instructor down the mountain? Learning how to swim or snow ski doesn't just happen, nor does learning how to love. We must first know the One who is Love.
Thankfully, Jesus meets us amidst shallow waves or on the bunny slopes, helping us face our fears and growing our trust in His strength. Then, if we are brave enough, He leads us to swim in the deep seas of His love.
We celebrate love on Valentine's Day, but it is just sentimentalism without acknowledging the One who is love. Any ability to love that we possess is because we are made in His image. We love only because He first loved us, made us a little lower than the angels, and showed us how to love others. Even then, all human love is incomplete and imperfect. And you feel that, right?
The love of Jesus, though, is a complete and perfectly fulfilling love. It is everything that we are not and can never be. Our love grows cold and someday ends, but the love of God never stops.
We see this on display at the end of Jesus' earthly life. Soldiers mocked Him. Priests and elders insulted and taunted Him. When the searing pain in His body screamed for reprieve, still He did not give in to a single selfish feeling. His love overruled His misery.
Even on the cross He kept on loving. He would not quit, could not quit. Not ever. Because that would be contrary to His nature. Jesus demonstrated how to love not just by dying for us, but by continuing in complete surrender to the Father's will. Surrender is the only way to know and show real love.
God is eternal and so love is eternal, never ending, unfailing. Celebrate the gift of God's eternal love today: first that you have received love, and second that you have the privilege of loving others, starting with your family. And when loving gets hard, think on this one true Lover who is continually in pursuit of your heart.
May you love well because He is always loving you.
Copyright 2016 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
1. The definition of love we bring to marriage has everything to do with whether or not we are experiencing it. Read "How Would You Define Love?" and learn to define love in such a way that you can enjoy it for a lifetime.
2. Follow Barbara Rainey on her Ever His blog, and view her Ever Thine Home® holiday and home collection.
3. As her daughters began their married lives, Barbara wanted to share with them some of the lessons she learned throughout her own marriage as well as those gleaned from years of ministry to couples. In these heartfelt, insightful letters that eventually evolved into the book Letters to My Daughters, she answers the tough questions and addresses the realities of marriage. Through personal stories—including her own mistakes—and practical advice, Barbara provides the tools and direction to help you become a godly wife and determine your part in achieving a better marriage. Order a copy of Barbara’s book Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife and visit TheArtofBeingaWife.com for more information. And you can listen to Barbara talk to FamilyLife Today® listeners about walking through the storms of life.