married couple

February: Is This Romance?

Around this time of year you see it everywhere: hearts, flowers, candy… red, pink and white. Santa Claus has retreated from the scene and Cupid is the man of the hour. Underlying the obvious commercialization of love by the retail industry, there is a not-so-subtle suggestion that this is what love is really all about – the giddy, heart-throbbing excitement of two people who can’t take their eyes (and sometimes their hands) off each other. It’s a sweet sensation of bliss, and everyone wants to feel it.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as “romantic” as the next guy (although, for some guys, that might not be saying much… but I digress). And there is certainly a place for such expressions of intimate emotion. But we must not be blinded by all the sparkle and fluff and miss the solid reality behind it. The fact is that true love can be summed up in one word: sacrifice.

Sacrifice is not a word that marketers use very often. It doesn’t sell like sex does. But in the real world, two people who truly give their lives to each other, sacrificing their own needs and desires for the sake of the other, are the very picture of romance. To be sure, we sometimes see a shadow of this in film or literature, but even there it tends to be a dramatic, intense and momentary action, rather than the persistent daily giving over of one’s “rights” in order to serve one’s spouse. The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 spells out the day-to-day requirements of sacrificial love.

If this makes romance sound dull or boring, or even painful, it needn’t be. Aside from the joy in giving to someone you love, true sacrifice is seldom one-way. As I give to my wife, she gives in return – perhaps out of gratitude, but also out of her pure love for me. We both enjoy the benefits, and our lives become increasingly grace-full and satisfying. This is a love that will last – “until death parts us.”

So go ahead – enjoy the flowers and the candy (or for guys, the engraved pocket knife?). But remember that the gold standard in expressing love is through sacrifice.

“One of the most important facets I’ve learned about love is unselfishness, which is characterized in the Bible as a willingness to sacrifice one’s own wishes for those of others. I’ve learned that true love will always adapt and adjust to the needs and desires of other people.” – Joyce Meyer

Contributed by: Larry Compter, Executive Director