February 14, 2019
"Love ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:6a, 7b (CSB)
In the era of Facebook and Instagram, there's so much pressure when it comes to pulling out all the stops while popping the question.
Just do a quick search online for the most romantic proposals. Or the most creative proposals. Or even those where the bride is surprised by a flash mob, as hundreds of people sing in harmony while also performing elaborate choreography. Oh, and it's all conveniently captured from four different camera angles and spliced together in a film that racks up millions of views and goes viral!
Although I'm glad my husband and I got engaged without any pressure from social media, I don't knock a modern-day, pull-out-all-the-stops creative proposal. They are undoubtedly entertaining to watch. And they certainly show a guy's willingness to put time into something that will speak love to his lady. But all of this "high bar" setting can slowly start to set up a false notion of what romance is. So can elaborate weddings and over-the-top honeymoons.
Sometimes we spend a massive amount of time staging and planning our weddings and very little time gearing up for marriage, sincerely trying to discern what real romance and true love actually are.
True love isn't a man who will race through the rain down a crowded city street to passionately embrace his wife, beseeching her to return after a lovers' quarrel.
Real romance doesn't come with a hefty price tag or show its affections by emptying a bank account - or worse, by going into deep debt - in order to prove its sincerity.
Undying devotion isn't flashy, wanting others outside of your marriage to cheer and applaud your showy efforts.
Authentic love isn't proven by dramatic gestures, expensive rings or attention-getting tactics. Not at all.
So, what is it then? Today's key passage, 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, gives us some insight. It doesn't claim that love is showy, but steady. It describes true love - the kind which comes from God and is in turn shown to others - by asserting that love "... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
A peek at the Greek meaning of the four verbs used in this passage offers us a deeper understanding of true love.
Bear: to properly place under a protective covering
Believe: to be utterly persuaded to be true
Hope: to actively wait for God's fulfillment
Endure: to stand your ground, bearing up against hardship and ultimately persevering
In essence, true love sticks around for the not-so-romantic, messy and mundane parts of married life. It protects the relationship by continuing to believe in God's faithfulness, actively awaiting God's fulfillment of His promises and standing firm in order to persevere.
So maybe, true love looks more like this:
It's the steadfast presence of your lover, the willingness to stick it out when things get rocky. It demonstrates love when no one else is looking. True love is wholly committed, costing time and effort. It gives with no expectation of recognition or return.
True love seeks to lighten the other's load. It attempts to understand the other's feelings, to soothe the unsettled soul of its love.
Real romance takes out the trash without being reminded, changes the baby's diaper when one parent is plain tuckered out, or swings by the office just to drop off that favorite snack for an afternoon break.
Authentic love models Christ by laying down its rights - and seeks to do no wrong. It places the other's wishes above its own.
True love is not a public fist bump. It loves in the secret places of the heart and then shows it in quiet ways, in the microscopic, mundane minutes of life.
May we seek to model this Christ-like love in our marriages, a love that keeps showing up and showing Christ.
Heavenly Father, may I reflect the love contained in Your Word rather than what culture showcases. Help me hold on to hope as I keep believing and enduring. Help me love like You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things." (CSB)
Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (NIV)
If you could use some encouragement in your marriage, check out Karen Ehman's upcoming book, Keep Showing Up: How to Stay Crazy in Love When Your Love Drives You Crazy. You'll receive a special bonus when you pre-order from our Proverbs 31 bookstore.
Connect with Karen over on her blog today where she's celebrating Valentine's Day by giving away a free watercolor printable PDF of today's key verse, along with a digital version to use as a lock screen on your phone. It's a reminder to keep showing up in your marriage, showing Christ's love as you do.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Which of the four verbs found in today's passage - "bears, believes, hopes, endures" - do you most need to show in your marriage relationship right now?
Join the conversation! Share your thoughts in our comments section about how you can show true love to someone today.
© 2019 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.