Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – February 2022
By Pastor Lloyd Pulley
At nearly every wedding I officiate, I love to read parts from a poem by Marjorie Holmes, comparing the fleeting desire, anticipation, and flattery of romance to the consistent thoughtfulness and sacrifice of love.
Romance is fleeting. Love is long.
Romance is dancing in the moonlight, gazing deep into desired eyes across a candlelit table. Love is saying: "You’re tired, honey, I’ll get up this time" and stumbling through the darkness to comfort a crying child.
Romance is suspense, anticipation, a surprise. Love is dependability.
Romance is tingling excitement. Love is tenderness, constancy, being cherished.
Romance is eager striving to appear attractive to each other. Love is two people who find beauty in each other no matter how they look.
Romance is flattering attentions. Love is genuine thoughtfulness.
Romance is seeking perfection. Love is forgiving faults.
Romance is flying. Love is safe landing.
Romance is delicious. Love nourishes.
When the desire to be loved trumps the sacrifice of loving another, then all that is left is the pure selfish desire for one’s own best—in short, the opposite of love, which is unbridled lust. And lust is self-seeking in all of its intentions as it lives for the pleasure and gain of only itself, disregarding the good of any it may use to fulfil its needs.
The only safe place for the wonderful warming fires of romance is to contain them in the fireplace of commitment with thoughtfulness and self-denial out of concern for your beloved. Love is intentional in seeking its object’s highest good.
No description of true love can match the Bible’s in 1 Corinthians 13. The chapter states in verses 4-8: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…"
Paul the Apostle wrote this letter to Christian believers at Corinth who lived among a particularly selfish and sensual population which mirrors much of modern America today. They sadly confused love with its opposite—lust.
And what a contrast!
True love is a forgiving love, a self-sacrificing, cherishing love, which treasures the object of its affections. This kind of love lasts far beyond emotional desire. This kind of love endures where beauty and strength fade, when health and romance decline. This kind of love is steadfast, not going anywhere. It stands in stark contrast to the kind of "love" demonstrated today, not sacrificial towards others, but plainly and unashamedly, a desire to please oneself.
Many marriages have been tested to the limit during these times, with division over politics and the never-ending drumming of a twistedly-censored media. To mask or to not mask, to be vaccinated or not, and this mass hysteria has tested marital commitment, friendships, and loyalties among friends and co-workers. With the rate of marriage already rapidly declining in the United States and a divorce rate of 45%, we should take note how unsustainable society is without true love. If we are divided, how will we stand? It is love that unites us!
The uncanny and accurate predictions of a first-century carpenter, Jesus, on the times that would precede the end of history include hearing of "wars and rumors of wars… famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places." But His prediction becomes most personal in Matthew 24:12 where is says: "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." Lawlessness is the essence of selfishness. It snuffs out love. It says, "I’ll do what I want, and no love, commitment, or law, will make me behave otherwise."
C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Four Loves: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. ‘The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.’"
And the Bible says in John 15:13: "There is no greater love than that one would lay his life down for his friends." Yet not only friends, but Romans 5:8 states, "while we were still sinners Christ died for us." What a covenant love! Not based upon emotion, but based upon commitment, this love never ends! "Many waters cannot quench this love, nor sweep it away." (Song of Solomon 8:7)
If you dream of growing old in harmony with a spouse or having lifelong friends who will live eternally together in heaven, remember this—one’s own heart must first be transformed by the gospel of grace found in Jesus.