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“I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!” (Buddy the elf). But how can you know if it’s love or some kind of counterfeit emotion?
Here’s a helpful check list to distinguish love from infatuation.
- Test of Time – Love benefits and grows through time; infatuation ebbs and diminishes with time.
- Test of Knowledge – Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may grow out of an acquaintance with only one of these characteristics known about the other person.
- Test of Focus – Genuine love is other-person centered. Infatuation is self-centered.
- Test of Singularity – Genuine love is focused on only one person. An infatuated individual may be “in love” with two or more persons simultaneously.
- Test of Security – Genuine love requires and fosters a sense of security and feelings of trust. An infatuated individual seems to have a blind sense of security.
- Test of Work – An individual in love works for the other person for his or her mutual benefit. By contrast, an infatuated person loses his or her ambition, appetite, and interests in everyday affairs.
- Test of Problem Solving – A couple in love faces problems frankly and tries to solve them. Infatuated people tend to disregard or try to ignore problems.
- Test of Distance – Love knows the importance of distance. Infatuation imagines love to be intense closeness, 24/7, all the time.
- Test of Physical Attraction – Physical attraction is a relatively small part of love, but it is a central focus of infatuation. (Now don’t read “small part” as “not a part” in what I just stated. If your heart doesn’t skip a beat now and then and you don’t feel real attraction for your mate or the person you plan to marry, I’d call that a problem. In contrast, when couples who are in genuine love have any physical contact, it tends to have special meaning as well as pleasure. Couples often communicate volumes through looks. These tend to express what they feel toward each other.)
- Test of Affection – In love affection is expressed later in the relationship, involving the external expression of the physical attraction we just described. In infatuation affection is expressed earlier, sometimes at the beginning.
- Test of Stability - Love tends to endure. Infatuation may change suddenly and unpredictably.
- Test of Delayed Gratification – A couple in genuine love in not indifferent to the timing of their wedding, but they do not feel an irresistible drive toward it. An infatuated couple tends to feel an urge to get married – instantly. Postponement for the infatuated is intolerable.
(from – Chip Ingram, Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships)
See also - How can we know what love is?
I’ve performed a lot of weddings. Each time I tell the photographers and videographers that I trust them to exercise discretion as they capture the occasion. I’ve never had a situation like this one. This pastor isn’t playing!
What do you think?
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For….what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (II Corinthians 6:14-15)
To be “yoked together” pictures two oxen sharing the same yoke while plowing a field. An unequal yoke is described in Scripture as the yoking of dissimilar animals (Deuteronomy 22:10).
The command against an unequal yoke prohibits believers from entering into cooperative relationships with unbelievers that would bind them to compromise their commitment to the Lord. One reason might be found in Jesus’ warning that we cannot serve two different masters (Matt. 6:24).
Marriage and the unequal yoke
The unequal yoke is most often applied to the marriage decision. A marriage relationship requires more unity than most realize. It’s a yoking of life at many important points and places. If those who are yoked in marriage have too many differences, they will be pulling in different directions. Their unity will be threatened.
I keep a miniature wooden yoke in my office to use as a visual for explaining the importance of an equally yoked marriage. It’s a fitting description because life together in a marriage involves many decisions that could easily lead to disagreements (especially when raising children together).
Marriage will significantly test the oneness and unity of two people. The yoke illustration implies that believer and unbeliever will be pulling in opposite directions or working at cross purposes with each other.
But this text assumes an ability to identify the differences between believers and unbelievers. So the first question about marriage for those who seek God’s will is how to identifying a true believer. See: Answering the first question….
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life'” (Revelation 21:3-7).
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).
The best definition for love is found in the New Testament. If you hope to practice the love described below, be prepared for some deep transformations of your life and relationships — from the inside out.
This love stands out as anti-rivalry. It opposes resentful comparisons and prideful competition. It does not resort to envy, one-up-man-ship, gossip or vindictiveness. This is a love that protects and honors the one loved.
- is patient
- is kind
- does not envy
- does not boast
- is not proud
- is not rude
- is not self seeking (demanding its own way)
- is not easily angered (irritable)
- it keeps no record of wrongs
- is never glad about evil
- rejoices in truth
- never gives up (always protects)
- never loses faith (always trusts)
- is always hopeful (positive)
- endures all circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
“It is often pointed out that in this paragraph Paul seems best to capture the life and ministry of Jesus. So much so that one could substitute His name for the noun “love” and thereby describe love in a more personal way. After doing so, however, one does not want to miss Paul’s point, which ultimately is description for the purpose of exhortation. Perhaps that point could best be captured by putting one’s own name in place of the noun “love,” and not neglecting thereafter to find a proper place for repentance and forgiveness” (Gordon Fee, N.I.C.N.T.; I Corinthians, p.640).
Love’s final four companions
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. This is love’s grand finale in a staccato of four verbs — each one all-encompassing ! (”All things”; adverbial: “In everything/always”).
“There is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). Love embraces faith and hope. It is tenacious and faithful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails — no wonder the greatest is love.
Think about it:
“Paul does not mean that love always believes the best about everything and everyone, but that love never ceases to have faith; it never loses hope. This is why it can endure. The life that is so touched by the never-ceasing love of God in Christ (cf. Romans 8:39) is in turn enabled by the Spirit to love others in the same way. It trusts God on behalf of the one loved, hopes to the end that God will show mercy in that person’s behalf” (Gordon Fee, I Corinthians, N.I.C.N.T., p. 640).
Love is what the world needs and what each person can experience through God’s love in Christ (see: Rom. 5:8; 8:38-39; Titus 3:3-6).
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (I John 4:9-11)
When our beautiful daughter (Steph Griffen) got married she told me in her typical cute way that she didn’t want her wedding to be a “sob-fest” (her words). She knew how easily her dad could let the tears roll.
Well, when I walked into the bridal room to see how she was doing, she looked at me in her beautiful wedding dress and tears filled her eyes. I immediately said, “We agreed not to do this now!” We then laughed together.
I actually officiated the formal part of her wedding and pronounced them husband and wife without shedding a tear.
But I admit that I lost it completely at the father-daughter dance. You see, they did something a little cruel to me before the wedding. She and her mom sent me three songs to choose from for the father-daugher dance. I listened to each of them in my office with the door shut and a Do Not Disturb sign up. I cried in my office like a baby through all of the songs! So I thought I got it “out of my system.” But something about taking her into my arms for that dance made the tears flowed! I can’t even write about it now without tears. :)
The video below is a precious memory from another wedding. The girl’s father had passed away before her wedding so her brother arranged something special for her. It appears that her grandfather is the first person to dance with her.
I had to put the sign back up on my office door for this one. You might need a few tissues.
When I perform a wedding (over 150), I always look at the groom when the bride enters the door. What a joy to see their joy! (see some examples here).
When I teach a class for singles each fall semester (for 20 years now), I always ask why it is that 200,000 marriages in America end before reaching their 3rd Anniversary. How does a couple go from the joy of celebration to the hostility of divorce in this short time?
We invest a good bit of time answering this question and it proves enlightening for the singles and hopefully serves to protect them from such tragedy. I remind singles that it’s one thing to “be” in love with someone; it’s another to love someone for life.
The difference between being in love and behaving in love must be understood (see resources below for explaining this distinction).
Short audio clips:
Resources for helping singles: