Written by Guest Blogger Randy Davison
The love of a man and woman for each other is one of the most amazing forces on earth. Learning that truth escapes many of us for years; some give up along the way, and many find the amazing treasure long into the journey. The love of a husband and wife is the best journey I have ever taken, and it is a journey.
My wife Susan and I have been married for 30 years. The greatest of our discoveries is the meaning of love; not the cliché meaning of love, but the meaning of love as God designed us to enjoy. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. It is unfortunate that many of us live with a very dysfunctional definition of what exactly is the love John is speaking of in 1 Corinthians 13.
When we first met, we were overtaken with “love,” but it was the eros of physical attraction; important for sure, but not sufficiently sustaining for doing life together. We continue to be very taken with eros but its depth has produced a new experience for us in physical attraction not based on what we see on the outside as it once was, but rather what we now see on the inside.
As we got to know one another, we discovered another kind of love known as philos which describes the love of best friends, which we have become. Once again we realized that this type of love by itself is not sufficient to sustain a healthy marriage over time. There was more for us to discover to make our lives together totally meaningful.
In John 21, there is an encounter Peter has with Jesus in which he calls attention to the communication issues we so often have in understanding our spouse. In this passage, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me” to which Peter replies, “you know that I love you.” But they were not speaking the same language. Jesus’ question was do you love (agapas) me, but Peter replies you know I love (philos) you. The love Jesus spoke of here agapas is a sacrificial love; that one prefers to love, desires to love by doing what the other wants: a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection.”
When Susan asks me if I love her, she is speaking of agapas. I have made a choice to love her, to place her first, to do what she wants, to be sacrificial. This is the example of God to which he refers to in Ephesians when he says I should love her as Christ loved the Church in that He gave up his life for her. If I answer philos, we haven’t connected at the level God has designed for us.
As we have learned to live into the perfect love of God’s design we realize that it is the merger of these forms of love that make a strong marriage. It is a condition that can only be reached after understanding our identity in our Heavenly Father. There is no way I could have imagined the depth of love I have for her now, and it gets better every year. Don’t ever settle for less, for this is God’s plan.
If you’re in a relationship with a significant other and you’re trusting the Lord with your future towards marriage, seek Him first that you might see that person through His eyes. Honestly evaluate your ability to share each of these types of love so that you may enjoy the marriage relationship for which God has designed you.
If you’re single and desire to share your life with the person God has for you, keep searching and trusting Him. Understand and accept nothing less than someone who loves and can be loved in this way. This is what will make marriage fulfilling and fruitful.
And from my personal experience, these are the ingredients for an amazing life together.
Randy Davison describes his full-time job being husband to Susan Davison. He serves as the Communications Coordinator at Discovery Church.