As we celebrate this most romantic of holidays I think it's appropriate to take a good look at what love is and is not. I know that we've all grown enamored with the Hollywood version of love - that there's this one "perfect" person out there for all of us, and if we could just find them our life would work out great, and we would live "happily ever after."
The problem with that is that if we look for, and hold out for, that perfect person, they will never be found. No-one is perfect - and we certainly aren't. Each of us are flawed in our own way, but that is part of the charm and the challenge of love. Let's look at what love is, really, anyway.
The Biblical word for "love" as used in the marriage context is from the Greek "agapao" and speaks of, not merely affection or lustful attraction, but self-sacrifice. In the time when the New Testament was written, women in most cultures were viewed as property, and faithfulness was not a quality that was valued. So, when the Apostle Paul came out with the statement in Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." it was a radical challenge.
It was a commitment to remain faithful to God's standard of marriage - one man, one woman for one lifetime. God tells us, through Paul, to love our wives as Christ loved the church - and willingly laid down His life for her. This pattern stands in stark contrast to the one we see around us, where love is often seen as conditional as long as our list of expectations is met. No, here we see that love is a choice and an action word. I might not feel like it every day, but I am called - every day - to love my wife, the one I covenanted with for life.
This does not rely on feelings, feelings pass. This actually is beyond my ability, something I freely admit. It is for this reason that the Bible doesn't teach that the marriage relationship is to be first in our lives. When Jesus was asked about priorities in Matthew's Gospel, He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, God is to be first. None of us are whole without having the relationship with our Creator restored. It provides the basis for success in all of our other relationships - including marriage. That was the purpose of Jesus'ministry, life, death and resurrection - it was all about restoration. In His famous Parable of the Prodigal Son we see God portrayed as the loving father waiting to welcome His child home. That's a picture of God's love for each of us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).
It is the security of this relationship we can have with our Creator that provides the foundation for us to love our wives unconditionally. It's not about some abstract philosophical truth, but a genuine relationship that we can have with God. We can bring to Him our questions, our burdens, failures and our concerns and find the strength, peace, grace and endurance to continue. So, I gladly say that my wife is Number 2 in my life! And I am her Number 2. Neither of us would have it any other way. Happy Valentine's Day!
What Love Language Do You Speak?
Wanted: Best Friend
Why I Believe In Marriage