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True Love Costs
Human relationships are complex. We want to be loved, but the more we search for intimacy, the more it seems to escape us. Why? There is a reason.

True love costs. The secular world understands this principle to some degree—people spend large amounts of money, time and energy in the quest for acceptance and a lasting connection with others. But this is not the true price tag that is required, nor will the result be as satisfying in the end as is often hoped.

Jesus makes it clear through His words and His own example that true love requires a commitment to personal sacrifice; a willingness to put everything on the line, even when a lasting reward is not guaranteed. He laid down His own life so that the entire world would have a chance at salvation, knowing that many would reject His offer of intimate friendship and eternal life.

Human relationships are complex. There are so many factors that make each of us remarkably unique. God has designed us with a natural desire to relate to one another, yet we each have life experiences that either help or hurt our ability to appreciate each other's differences and perspectives. We have a desire to love and to be loved, but the more we search for intimacy, the more it seems to escape us. Many go to great lengths to find "true love", and end up disappointed.

The truth is that love in its purest form can only be experienced in a loving relationship with the Source of love Himself, our heavenly Father. Every one of us was made with a place in our hearts that can only be touched and comforted by Him. No other person, place or thing can fully satisfy us in His place. More than that, our sense of value and true meaning in life can only come from a real relationship with Him, because His enduring presence is the only guarantee we have on this journey.

Yet the way in which we seek God also determines how we can experience this place of true fulfillment that we all long after. If we approach Him on our own terms, the void will remain, no matter how much we pray or participate in "religious" activities. We will also hinder our own ability to experience all the blessings He desires to bring into our lives, especially in our relationships with others.

We must pursue a relationship with God on His terms—by placing complete trust and faith in His Son Jesus. There must be a willingness to lay our lives down for Him, a desire to go the full distance in doing His will. He not only wants to be our Saviour, but our Shepherd and Friend.

It is only in dedicating our whole selves to Jesus, and growing in our understanding of what He has done for us on the cross, that we can know what it means to lay down our lives for another human being. He challenges us with His words: "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 11:27, NIV). Only He can teach us how to deny ourselves for the benefit of God's higher purposes, rather than focusing solely on our own gratification or fulfillment.

As we grow in appreciation of His grace and mercy over our lives, we are better able to be more forgiving of others' failings toward us. The more honest we can be with Him about our own weaknesses and mistakes, the more honest and flexible we can be in our relationships with others—especially with a spouse.

A godly marriage is the most intimate yet challenging of human relationships. It calls for a willingness to put aside one's preferences and desires for the sake of pleasing the person with whom you have become "one flesh." It means being willing to make choices and sacrifices that consistently encourage the relationship and please God. The overwhelming expectation in our society is that for a marriage to work, it must be a "50/50" effort by both partners with tangible benefits. But God's desire is that each partner, with His help, is willing to give their all—even during difficult periods when the other person does not seem to be equally committed.

God's loving influence can make all the difference in our hearts and relationships, especially during difficult times. Those who are married but feel disillusioned can gain new hope and a fresh perspective. Marriage hopefuls can gain a realistic understanding of the challenge that this divine calling presents and how they can begin preparing their hearts for a blessed union.

Those who have experienced the pain of a spouse's death can learn to embrace God's comfort and healing. We can all learn how to be more realistic in our expectations of one another. True love does cost. We all desire it, but must be willing to pay the price to receive it. Are you?

Originally published in Testimony, February 2006.




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