Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Over my years of Christian ministry, I have conducted a number of weddings as a marriage celebrant. It’s a great honour to conduct these ceremonies, which are usually full of kind words, love and friendship.
Something significant happens when two people marry. They make promises to each other and vows are expressed. I always hope that they take the marriage vows seriously. Marriage is about a commitment of a man and woman to each other and God. And it’s about an expression of love. I read of some primary school, students who were asked what they thought love is, and why do people fall in love. Some of the responses were kind of interesting:
- An eight year old said, One of the people has freckles, so he finds somebody else who has freckles too.
- Another little boy aged seven said, If falling in love is anything like learning to spell, I don’ want to do it. It takes too long.
- And then nine-year-old Bart said, Falling in love is like an avalanche where you have to run for your life.
Love in Action
We can smile at these answers and wouldn’t it be nice if falling in love and staying in love was that simple!
The famous play The Fiddler on the Roof is a story about a Russian Jew named Tevye in the early 1900s. The times were changing in those days, especially in Russia, where the communists were in power. But change also touched the traditions of the Jewish people, as well. For instance, no longer would marriages be arranged by a matchmaker and the parents. Now children would marry for love, including Tevye’s daughters.
In the midst of all this turmoil, Tevye approaches his wife one day and says to her:
- Tevye: “He’s a good man, Golde. I like him. And what’s more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. So what can we do? It’s a new world. A new world. Love. Golde—Do you love me?”
- Golde: “Do I what?”
- Tevye: “Do you love me?”
- Golde: “Do I love you? With our daughters getting married! And this trouble in the town! You’re upset, you’re worn out. Go inside, go lie down! Maybe it’s indigestion”
- Tevye: “Golde, I’m asking you a question—do you love me?”
- Golde: “Do I love you? For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After 25 years, why talk about love right now?”
- Tevye: “Golde, the first time I met you was on our wedding day; I was scared.”
Tevye’s and Golde’s love was not something they had talked about much, if at all, during their marriage. But as Golde makes it clear, love is shown by what we do. Of course, she loves Tevye. She would say, Look at what I have done for him. My actions tell you how I feel. But of course love is more than actions, isn’t it?
The Qualities of Real Love
Two people make promises to love and cherish each other. But I suggest it needs more than that. It needs what the Bible calls agape love. This is a Greek word that talks about a healthy kind of love, coming from God that is more about giving than receiving. God is love, and his divine love can be ours. So it’s not just an emotional kind of thing that can change from day to day. If a husband and wife have that kind of love, they can weather any storm!
1 John 4:7 says: “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made perfect within us.”
The pop group Captain & Tenille sang “Love will keep us together”. True, up to a point. What kind of love? Is it about putting the other partner first, of being kind and loyal and forgiving?
The Bible says that love must be sincere. It’s the opposite of self-centredness, self-fulfilment, self-pleasure and self-glory. Let’s take the time to discover God and his special love that can be ours in Jesus Christ. Have a read of what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13—all that really is about love.