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What are your thoughts on “true love”?


What are your thoughts on “true love”?—Dreamer Girl, 15, NC

Shayna Answers:

Dear Dreamer Girl,

A lot of times movies and TV shows depict two people meeting, instantly falling in love, and knowing that what they are experiencing is “true love.”

Unfortunately, true love involves more than the instantaneous, automatic affection that actors show. True love is an experience that God orchestrates and that is centered around Him.

First John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”—He is the definition of love. And 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 describes in detail what true love is.

The best examples of true love are seen in how Jesus interacts with other members of the Godhead, the Father and the Holy Spirit. John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14 shows that the Word was really Jesus, because it says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

So since Jesus was God and God was Jesus (John 1:1), then it shows that members of the Godhead treat each other equally—the first characteristic of true love.

John 1:14 demonstrates the submission that is necessary in true love, as it says that Jesus willingly became flesh—like us. The rest of the book of John explains why Jesus did this: to die for us and to save us eternally. The second characteristic of true love is unselfishness (Philippians 2:3).

Finally, John 1:18 says that Jesus is “at the Father’s side” (NIV).*
True love encompasses a joyful intimacy that’s not necessarily about sexual closeness. In John 17:20-22, the intimacy Jesus described as He was praying to God suggests that in true love, both members are willing to share each others’ burdens through the good and the bad. In true love, there’s no opportunity for being selfish or bailing out when things get ugly. Intimacy in true love means being willing to sacrifice in order to help another person, even when it takes more out of you than you receive in return.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us, and for most of us that plan includes a spouse. Thankfully, unlike fantasy depictions of true love, there isn’t one single person that we’re destined to fall in love with. If there were, we would likely never find that person because of our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Just think about it: one wrong move, and the entire algorithm for destined spouses would be messed up forever!

Love is not some sort of magical change that happens to us overnight. Rather, true love is an action—usually one that requires a good amount of effort! It’s not that loving someone else is hard, it’s that God designed the marriage institution to stand in the face of immorality and sin, so the devil is constantly attacking the union of two people.

You’ll know that you are experiencing true love when you find that instead of having to struggle against compromising God’s laws, you are confidently acting in a way that honors God and respects your future spouse.

When you’re certain that you have put your heart in God’s hands and are committed to the well-being of someone else before yourself, you are not only reflecting God’s love, you are experiencing true love.

*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Soicety. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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