Everywhere you turn in our world, you are inundated with love. Every television show seems to revolve around some couple falling in love or being in love. Hallmark cards, Valentine gifts, even dating services all promote the ideal of love and romance.
Love and romance are real things that motivate people in many ways. Some give up jobs, others income, others family, all in order to be with the one they love. Love is a powerful, driving force in many if not most lives. Sadly, love is often corrupted by our culture. It is turned into mere lust, or into trivial passions that come and go.
The Bible speaks of romantic love. But, in telling us about love, the Word reminds that real love has qualities unlike the passing fancy of the world. Real love is powerful and life changing. Let's look at a man named Jacob and his love for a young woman named Rachel. Jacob had left his parents' home due to his deceitfulness toward his father and brother. He has journeyed a long way to find relatives in a distant land. He arrives at a well, helps a young woman water her flock, and discovers she is a member of his distant clan. He goes home with the young lady and meets her father, a man named Laban. "And Laban said to him, 'Surely you are my bone and my flesh.' And he stayed with him a month. Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?' Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.' And Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man; stay with me.' So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her" (Gen. 29:14-20). Jacob quickly fell head over heels in love with Rachel. He loved her so much, he worked seven years for her hand, and it seemed like only a few days to him. Seven years is a long time for anyone, but when you are in love, it is a simple thing to wait and to serve in order to fulfill your love. This story tells us about genuine love and its characteristics.
Love Is Seeking: -- The story begins with Jacob seeking his relatives in a distant country (Gen. 29:1). When he arrives he goes to the well, knowing his relatives are herders, they would bring the animals to water at the start and close of each day. Sure enough, he finds people at the well, and, in time, meets his distant relative, Rachel.
Jacob found this young woman, and experienced great love, only because he was looking for his people and a relationship with them. I don't know that he planned to fall in love like he did. But I do know that the first quality of love is that it seeks relationship with others.
This is certainly a characteristic of God's love for us. "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jno. 4:9-11). We didn't love God, that is, we weren't seeking Him. He loved us and came after us in the form of His only Son. God did this only because He loved us so much. Genuine love, like God's, is always characterized by a desire to be with others. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jno. 3:16).
Love Is Persistent: -- Jacob loved Rachel. So, he offered to work seven years to get her. It wasn't hard for him, he loved her that much. And, through all of that he never gave up. He kept working for no wages (except room and board) in order to be with the one he loved. He was stubborn and persistent, because he loved her that much.
And, he would be tested in his persistence. "Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.' And Laban gathered all the men of the place, and made a feast. Now it came about in the evening that he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?' But Laban said, 'It is not the practice in our place, to marry off the younger before the first-born. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.' And Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife" (Gen. 29:21-23, 25-28). Laban deceives his son- in-law, sending in the wrong daughter. What does love do in that case?
Well, Jacob just rolled up his sleeves and worked another seven years. He got a wife he didn't want. But, he finally got the love of his life that he did want. His love was so persistent that he would not give up even after being horribly deceived by his father-in-law.
God's love is like that as well. He won't give up. When the prodigal son returned home, the father was watching for him, kissed him and restored him to full sonship with clothes, rings and rights (Lk. 15:20-22). God won't give up on us. He won't give up on you. God loves you so much that if you will just turn toward Him, He will run to greet you and love you as a son.
Love Is Powerful: -- Jacob's love for Rachel was so intense, that seven years of labor seemed easy. Even after being deceived, another seven years seemed okay as well. She must have been some young lady, but, more so, he must have been deeply in love with her.
The fact is, when you love like this, all the costs, the labor, the sweat, the tears are worth it. Deep, genuine love makes the hardest tasks seem light and easy. Love like this doesn't worry about the price, it just does what is needed. That is why Jno. 3:16 is so wonderful. God loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son. And when we learn to love as He does, our lives will be energized as well.
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jno. 5:2,3). As we learn to love God as He loved us, an amazing thing takes place. We stop worrying about what He asks, and we just obey Him. Whatever He asks seems easy, when we love Him as He loved us. That is what John means when he says that the Lord's commands are not a burden. They are easy, when we love Him.
Love Is Refreshing: -- All this time and efforts seemed light and just a few days to Jacob. When he fell in love with Rachel, he felt young, vigorous to the point that seven years seemed easy. Love like this is refreshing. It renews the spirit it invigorates the body, it makes all aspects of life look better.
That is why God spends so much time and effort telling you He loves you. So that you can feel the joy of His salvation. The Lord wants you to face life with optimism and confidence. When you experience His love, and when you share His love, you will be amazed at how refreshed you feel and how good all of life looks to you. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom. 5:8-11). Paul tells us that God loved us when we were unlovable, sinners. He saved us, He keeps us saved by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus' blood. And now, we rejoice, or exult, because life is renewed and all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). God's love is like Jacob's love in that it is incredibly refreshing.
Can You Feel The Love?:-- I can
only imagine how Rachel felt, watching this man put out such effort in order
to marry her. How could she not feel special? How could she not respect and
admire Jacob, even if, for some reason, she didn't like him? Moreover, how could
she not expect that he would treat her right, given the price he was paying
to be with
This is how you should feel when you consider the love of God. God has loved you so much, He gave His Son. He loved you so much, He gave His Son for you, even when you didn't know or care about Him or about Jesus. He loved you so much He saw your sin, and is still waiting to welcome you back into His arms. And, when you come to the Lord, you need not worry about how He will treat you. "By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear" (1 Jno. 4:17,18a). In the Lord there is no need to dread or fear. God has done all He can to tell you He loves you. Now, you need to come home to Him. Repent, be baptized into the name of His Son, and feel the love of God today, and every day!
By David Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 40 Oct. 6, 2006.
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