I ran across a story about a young man who had gone to a photo shop to have a picture of his girlfriend duplicated. The picture was an 8x10 and was framed. So, the owner had to remove the picture from the frame in order to produce another. When he did he saw there was a message written on the back.
The message read: “My dearest Jim! I love you more than words could ever say! I am the luckiest girl in the world for having you in my life! I love you even more with each passing day! My love for you will never die! I am eternally yours! Forever, Susan.” The owner smiled and felt warmth in his heart as he read through these affectionate words. Then he noticed at the bottom of the photograph there was a “P.S.” that said, “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.” Kind of changes the perspective, don’t you think?
Genuine love is not left open-ended as the message on the picture would suggest. Oh it would be if it were simply based on emotion. Over time our emotions tend to ebb and flow. But in good, healthy relationships we understand that love is still there even on days when we do not feel it as strongly. But the question arises, “How do we make it through these valleys?” The answer is summed up in the word, “commitment.”
How does that play out in everyday life? One of the best examples I could give was published in Good Housekeeping magazine several years ago. The magazine sponsored a “Happy Marriage” contest which was won by this entry from Dillon and Patti Bayes: “We gave… when we wanted to receive. We served… when we wanted to feast. We listened… when we wanted to talk. We submitted… when we wanted to reign. We forgave… when we wanted to remember. We stayed… when we wanted to leave.”
The Biblical foundation for those thoughts is recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. Note these words in particular: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
So, genuine love is not open-ended and it does not depend solely on emotion. Real love is committed- - like the love that Jesus has for us (cf. John 13:1b).