We more commonly react out of anger, pride, hatred or some other emotion, than act out of common sense or good planning. We buy pets, clothes and even houses because of how they make us feel. We choose our friends and our enemies with our hearts, not with our brains. We shop around for the religion that ‘feels’ right for us.
The Bible teaches that true love is not an emotion, but a decision. For example, we’re called not just to love those who love us, but even those who hate us, which requires self sacrifice and governing our emotions.
So how can we know when we’re really in love – according to God’s standard?
Although love will make us ‘feel’ a certain way – usually tingly and excited – we must also stop and think. After the first feelings of our love fade, after a month or a year or even a decade, we must have something more solid to depend on, or else our marriage will disintegrate. A marriage based only on emotional love, without the foundations of God, sacrifice and common sense, won’t last.
When determining whether we’re truly in love, we must ask:
1. Firstly, is the other person a Christian? While of course it’s possible for a Christian to fall in love with a non-Christian, we should be very wary of doing so as God commands that we don’t marry a non-believer. If we do fall in love with a non-Christian, we must either commit to praying and seeking their salvation before we marry them, or else end the relationship.
2. If the other person is a Christian and there’s definite attraction between us, we must assess whether we’re willing to put them and their needs above everyone and everything else (after God). Love requires us to sacrifice our own needs and inclinations for theirs on a daily basis.
3. Next, we need to assess whether we’re committed to investing our time and energy into the relationship. If we’re not, then we’re probably not really in love.
4. Finally, we need to ask ourselves if the other person is someone who we genuinely want to marry. Does the thought of spending the rest of our lives with him or her excite us? If we don’t foresee that the relationship will end in marriage, then there’s little point in continuing in it.
How can we know when we’re truly in love? If we:
• Feel like we’re in love
• Are prepared to sacrifice our own needs for the other person
• Are prepared to invest into the relationship
• Genuinely want to marry the other person
… then it’s likely that we’re in love according to God’s standard.