Can Love Be Earned?

Silhouette of bride and groom with sunset behind

Roberto and Maria were a fine couple who really adored each other. They were frequently found taking walks around the lake near the center of town. They loved to hold hands and to talk about all kinds of subjects, but especially about each other. The whole community thought highly of them as having a model relationship. It wasn’t long before they announced their engagement, and less than a year later, they were married.

But after marriage, something did not seem totally right between them. They never fought with each other, in fact, they never even had a sharp disagreement. Neither one ever exploited the weaknesses or strengths of the other. They had no deep secrets or hidden past. They just never seemed to feel adequate for each other, especially in the case of Maria.

graphic of woman washing car

Maria would clean the house from top to bottom, scrub the outside walkways by hand, and wash and polish both of their vehicles. She kept the landscape immaculate and even repainted the house. She was constantly doing something just to make Roberto happy, because she was determined, as much as possible, to earn his love. Yet it seemed like the more she tried to do things to please him, the farther she felt from him.

Roberto appreciated all that Maria had been doing around their place, but he could also sense a widening gap in their relationship. He also did many things to try to please her, but she hardly noticed as she ran from one project to another, trying to please him. After a while, he was grieved over all that she was trying to do for him.

He had always loved her for herself, not for what she could do for him.

The situation finally reached the point where he knew he had to get Maria away from the house and have a serious talk with her. But, sadly, it never happened. Every time he tried to make an effort to speak to her, she would enter into a monologue, and then dash off to continue with yet another project for him before he could say what he wanted to. But it wasn’t that she didn’t want to hear him; she just never really took time for him to have an opportunity to speak.

mid cropped shot of man and woman with upset relationship

Their marriage eventually became stagnant and lifeless, in spite of all the work Maria had done for the one she loved, and that Roberto had done for her. It never led to a divorce, but there was no longer any real fellowship or meaningful communication between them. Yet, the whole time, Maria still continued to try to make Roberto love and want her, because she had always considered herself not good enough for him.

A scenario similar to this story happens all the time in the heart of true believers in the Lord concerning God and some of His children.

When we accept Jesus into our life, we have actually entered into a spiritual marriage covenant with Him.

In a proper marital relationship, neither person needs to work to earn the other’s love, because the acceptance and commitment has already been made. In fact, the love was already there before the engagement and, in many instances, even the relationship, had occurred. Conversely, nothing we can ever do will earn the love and favor of Jesus. He already loved us more than we could ever know long before we ever knew Him. His love is His gift to us, not a reward for our actions toward Him.

Maria and Roberto spent most of their time and energy trying to earn each other’s love, allowing no time to just enjoy each other’s companionship. This approach only left them feeling incomplete and saddened in heart instead. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 emphasis added). God has already shown His true desire for us through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son made over two thousand years ago.

photo of a cross on a hill with sun, clouds and red sky in background

Once we have become part of Jesus’ bride-to-be, we should realize that we need to refrain from trying to win Him over, and start living in the manner of one who is already promised to Him in marriage.

Jesus wants His bride to focus on Him, and what He did for her on the cross.

That is where He showed His true love for us. His interest is not so much in what we can do for Him. That is the product of our relationship with Him, not the goal. His desire is to have intimate fellowship with us. He wants us to spend time with Him, and to learn more about Him through His Word (the Bible) also. Then, the more we open our heart to Him in prayer, the more He will be able to speak to us in His own special, distinctive, loving way.

 

[Image credits: stocksnap/Lilly Cantabile/Gerd Altmann/Germán R]