Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8 ESV
If you’ve studied the bible at all, you know the kind of love that is from God is called agape love. This is the ‘you before me’ kind of love that is glorious and rare. It’s given freely and with no expectation of return. Agape love is unconditional love, chosen to be given despite the response of the other person. In other words, agape love is a willingness to love our spouses despite the circumstances, despite the argument, despite their sin against us. Agape love is a choice to love even if they don’t demonstrate love us in return. Many couples enter marriage believing romantic love is the key ingredient to survival. We like the way we feel when we’re with the other person. They make us feel beautiful or intelligent, they encourage us to chase our dreams, they support us when we’re struggling, they make us feel heard, they make us feel like we matter, so we fall in love. I am the best version of myself when I’m with her or Nobody makes me feel like he does. These very thoughts lead to life-long commitments. And while it is important to your relationship to feel all those emotions, they are simply not going to see you through to the end. You see, romantic love is based on emotion, but agape love is not based on emotion at all. In fact, it’s absent of emotion. It is a choice of the will to continue to love someone regardless of how you feel.
God loves us with an agape love. Despite the fact that we did not love Him, despite the fact that we turned our backs on Him and intentionally chose to sin against Him, He continued to come after us and love us. His pursuing and steadfast love for us is what eventually softened our heart and brought us to our knees.
God calls us to the same kind of love for our spouses. When He gives us this command, He’s not referring to those easy people in your life to love—you know, those people you enjoy being around because they always make you feel so great about yourself. We all have those people in our lives that are just easy to love, but it wouldn’t be necessary for God to remind us to love those people. No, this command is specifically for those difficult people, for those draining people, for the people we live with day in and day out who grate on our nerves. It’s to remind us how to love those challenging people in our lives. The ones who hurt us, the grumpy ones or the ones who just never seem to be happy, the ones who complain about everything, and the ones who seem to put themselves first all the time, the ones who intentionally lash out at us, and the ones who seem so divisive. These are the people God calls us to love with an agape love. We are to choose to love them as an act of the will, despite how we might be feeling in the moment.
God has a plan in His command for you to love your spouse with this kind of sacrificial love. When you love them with the kind of love that can only come from Him, they see Him in you. And when they experience Him in this way, their hearts are softened and prepared for change. The most beautiful part of His plan in calling us to love with an agape love is that in our choice to love them when it’s hard, we might have the opportunity to see their hearts soften at our expression of agape love. And that is God at work.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗