Morning Devotion (for the unmarried): Do they love you? What matters most in covenant is agape (God) love.
Our culture praises fun, romance, sex, lust, and quick hookups. There is hyper focus on fantasy and eros love (sexual attraction/romantic love).
There is little to no focus on agape love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love).
Agape love is the love Jesus demonstrates. He tells His followers the world would know them by this love.
Some may say, “Agape belongs just between you and God or in church and not in marriage or friendship.” I strongly, strongly disagree. Why? Trials may hit your friendship or marriage. Eros (romantic love) or philia (brotherly love) or storage (family love) may jump ship or not hold up in testing and extreme trials. Why? Because when love hurts, when that person disappoints you, when they no longer can meet your needs, when the sparkle has fizzled, the flesh says, “Let’s ditch this zero and look for another fix.”
I personally do not enjoy mistreatment, so there are some unrepentant people not a part of my circle. I still pray for them, would feed them if they were hungry, clothe them if naked, keep their confidences, and seek to do no harm.
Only agape says, “Even in the worst of times, I still love you. I am praying for you. Even if it costs me greatly I am looking out for you. My love for you is unwavering, unyielding, stead fast, and will not be moved. In sickness, and in health. In good times, and in bad times. When you make my heart flutter and when you don’t. I will remain faithful in love for you.” This does not mean love fails to set boundaries (see paragraph above). Yet boundaries are for protection, not punishment or an excuse to withhold love.
Agape love is covenant love. It will cost you. It is not based on feelings, it is a choice you make to show up and do right by someone even if they do not deserve it. It is the love that says, “Even if you have nothing to offer me or you loose it all. I am not going to abandon my covenant with you.”
Agape love is what God demonstrated to Adam and Adam and Eve were supposed to demonstrate to each other. Agape is what Jesus tells us to demonstrate to the world, even our enemies, not just who we like.
So in navigating through the choices for a mate or a covenant friend, think, do they love you? Do they demonstrate the unselfish, sacrificial, unconditional love of God for you and others? Are they a servant or looking to be served? Are they in any way looking out for you, your best interests? Or are they looking for someone to bless them, care for them, be there for them? A deeply selfish person will hurt you.
Lust vs. Love
Lust is selfish and can be mistaken for love. It is an intense feeling that wants to take from someone else for it’s own pleasure or personal gain. Lust will pursue to conquer. Lust will also abandon. Lust is never satisfied.
Marriage goes not cure lust anymore than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a spirit and heart condition; Jesus can deliver anyone from lust. The natural condition for mankind is love, not lust. Lust came when sin came. Before lust there was blessing given by God for physical intimacy out of agape love.
Love is looking for ways to give, add value, bless, empower, protect, and enhance. Love seeks to do things God’s way. Love is holy, pure, and eternal.
Okay, you may be saying, “Love sounds hard. I just want to have fun!”
Fun is great! I love to have fun. Yet just having fun does not make us covenant friends or marriage material. God and I have tons of fun; laughing parties, dancing, sharing dreams, life together. Yet we both know our love for the other is not dependent on having fun. There are times where He just had to hold me while I mourned. Times where I had to wait patiently on Him to finish what He started. Not always fun, yet we are in covenant. I love God even when walking with Him is challenging. He promises to never leave or forsake me. I know every day with me is not fun. Yet He stands in unwavering love.
What about that spark, physical attraction?
God is pro chemistry. Hormones were His idea. He was the Author of attraction, sex, and romance. Yep. God, not Hollywood. God’s version of romance leads to greater intimacy (knowing) in a safe environment. God seeks to protect hearts and bodies, not destroy them or use them.
God created physical intimacy with boundaries. Those who live their lives based solely on what pleases the flesh will often find they are led by lust not love. What if your spouse can no longer meet your physical needs? Are you leaving? Cheating? Withholding love? Angry? What if that person loses their health, looks, or possessions? Lust says, “Go where your needs are going to be met.” Lust is selfish. Love is unselfish and faithful.
In a world that says, “Do what feels good to you.” God offers something so much better, agape love.
Does that potential mate or close, covenant friend love you? Really love you? Do they love anyone besides themselves, their family, and friends? What is their character and heart?
If presented with the chance to be close friends or a spouse I am examining how the person loves. I have met many people in my lifetime who claimed to love me, I am their best friend or like family, and several men who said I was their choice for a wife, yet in the end they did not truly love me. Some loved the idea of me. Some loved the way I loved them or loved their families. Some loved or lusted after what was on the outside. Some evaluated how I could add value to their lives or business or church. Some just wanted to check their box, “Found me a wife or good friend.” Some were deeply selfish. And at the end of the day, I do not care how much money you have, or about titles or superficial things, how well do you love?
Sweet friends, God loves you and wants you loved in return. One sided love is not a relationship, it’s charity. Charity (ministry) is great. Love without strings attached. Yet in covenant you will need someone willing to pour back the love you pour out. God set up relationships for mutual love and blessing.
God bless you in your unmarried years and those who never wish to marry. Follow hard and fast after Jesus. God loves you and has incredible plans for your life, whether married or unmarried. He is your eternal covenant, stronger and better than any earthly covenant. He is the best Lover of your soul. You are so valuable to Him and SOooooooo deeply loved.