A devotional on love

Whether you are single or married, in love or in heartbreak, celebrating “Valentine’s Day” or “Singles Awareness Day” on February 14th, we cannot miss the cultural experience of Valentine’s Day. 

Of course, this day does not appear in the pages of Scripture. But the experience of love and romance does. Throughout Scripture, the marital relationship is accurately identified as the most intimate of all human relationships. It is used as a picture and description of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church – his Bride. 

Marriage is lifted high in the pages of Scripture, because husbands and wives love each other as Christ loves the Church. But marriage is not lifted as high as love itself. Paul is clear in the New Testament that marriage is not a requirement or even the best life that we can live (see 1 Corinthians 7). But whether we are married or single, dating or divorced, as Christ-followers we are given a clear command to love people well. See John 15, 1 Corinthians 13, and dozens of other passages prioritizing our Christian commitment to love well. 

A devotional look at Song of Songs 2:7

Perhaps the most famous book in Scripture for the topic of love, romance, and marriage is the book of Song of Songs, sometimes known as the Song of Solomon. This book is a love letter between a bride and groom, and commentators throughout the centuries have understood this book to more fully and accurately be a picture of the love between Christ and his Bride, the Church.

Personally, I have gotten the most out of this book from the repeated refrain: 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
    by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires.

This refrain occurs three times throughout the book (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). It has comforted me during life’s different stages of romantic upheaval, and challenged me during seasons of spiritual dryness. This verse reminds me that true love – worthwhile love – cannot be forced, created, or even “awakened” by ourselves. Love occurs when it so desires, when God’s timing is right. 

This is true in romantic relationships. We cannot convince someone to love us well, to remain faithful to us, or to woo us and propose to us. And this is also true in our relationship with Christ. We cannot create our own faith or force a devotion to Jesus. We love because He first loved us. Love cannot be aroused or awakened “until it so desires.” 

Love throughout the different seasons of life

There are times in life when we are single. We long for a companion. We long to be romanced, desired and pursued. 
Yet Christ, our true Lover, is always pursuing us, sacrificing for us, and drawing us toward Himself. 

There are other times in life when we are enthralled in romantic relationship, distracted by its power and allure. 
Yet Christ, our worthy Love, is the only One worth building our life and identity upon, the only One who deserves our unending gaze and devotion.

There are seasons in life when love brings us pain – someone has hurt us, left us, and we are grieving, mourning, or angry.
Yet Christ, our eternal Lover, is the only One who will never leave us, and He is the One with the power to wipe away every tear and sadness at the end times.

There are yet other times in life when we have love that is sweet and deep and lasting. When we feel comfortable. Relationships in which we feel fully known and fully loved. 
Yet Christ, our Savior and Lord, is the One who truly knows us and has fully loved us.

Whatever season you are in during this Valentine’s Day, may it be a reminder to us to love well. To love God and to love our neighbor. 

If you are single, February 14th may be difficult and painful. If you are dating, it may be anxiety-provoking and create unnecessary pressure. If you are married, it may be an unusually expensive date night. (Have you ever looked at the price difference on a dozen roses between January 14th and February 14th?!) If you are a Christian, Valentine’s Day is one of 365 days a year when you have the opportunity to receive Christ’s love and let it overflow into loving other people. 

I hope you will love well this Valentine’s Day.

Written by Jessica Hayes
iHope Executive Director