Skewed View or True Love? A Valentine's Day reflection on love

I remember years ago when I was single and living in San Francisco; I’d been a follower of Jesus again for less than a year, and my community group was discussing the topic of marriage and love in our weekly Tuesday meeting. One of my favorite members of the group was a young woman named Emily - she hailed from Australia and was married to Mark, a young man from Wisconsin she met in college. Besides the cool accent, Emily had an uncanny way of speaking truth in a way that was blunt but also filled with humility and honesty. That night she said, “Being married is like having a mirror reflecting back all of your sin; you can’t hide. And then you have kids!”

“Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:6a, 7b

How does this relate to love? Well, I think so many of us (men included) go into marriage thinking we have this “love” thing down; I mean everything feels so exciting and awesome - how could that ever change? Then comes work, kids, toilet seats left up at night, sleep interrupted by snoring and wet beds, poopy diapers, piles of laundry, missed calls, mixed messages… I think this is where my friend Emily’s comment about the mirror comes in; I think marriage can often reveal just how selfish our motives can be; love can easily become about fulfilling my needs and making me feel accepted, wanted, and desired.

What a contrast I Corinthians 13 presents on this whole topic of love! If you’re married, perhaps someone read parts or all of it at your ceremony (with lots of smiles in the audience and maybe a few tears as well). The’re good words - ones we should take to heart often as we stop to ponder, “Is my view of love skewed, or do I see love the way God sees it?”

Author Karen Ehman from Proverbs 31 tackles this in her devotional today titled “Skewed View or True Love?" She starts by reminding us what love isn’t - “Authentic love isn’t proven by dramatic gestures, expensive rings or attention-getting tactics. Not at all.”

So what is true love? For that answer we look to Jesus; Ehman says this, "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.”"

True love often shows up by being faithful in all the little things of life; I loved what Ehrman said when she wrote, “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.”

She then follows with this powerful statement: Authentic love models Christ by laying down its rights — and seeks to do no wrong. It places the other’s wishes above its own.

If you’re looking for true love, start with Jesus. Need more reminders? Turn off the TV, lay down the smartphone, and take a moment and dig into passages like I Corinthians 13 or Romans 12. As followers of Jesus may we all turn away from skewed love and show real love this Valentine’s Day.