Can Love be Earned?

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. ~Genesis 29:20 Recently, ABC came out with a new show called “The Proposal”. Being the curious person I am, I watched a couple episodes. For those of you who have never seen it, the basis of the show is: One man or woman is featured on the show. In less than an hour, the man or woman must choose one contestant to propose to. The contestants must “win the heart” of the featured man/woman, doing everything from modeling in swimwear, to professing their love. Here’s the kicker: the featured man/woman is hidden from the contestants for most of the show! As for as crazy dating shows go, not too bad of a plot. As I watched, I was shocked. Every one of the featured people were Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against Christians being on TV shows. What did make me uneasy, is that these people were trying to earn the love of a complete stranger! Can love be earned? We now live in an era where men and women are going on tv shows to try and earn the love of a stranger. But can love be earned? How many people stay together and get married off the show? The statistics are not great. Imagine for a second that your relationship or even marriage started by having to prove your worth and earning love, as if you could earn it? It would probably not be that strong, hence, the high rate of break-ups. In the Bible, many times the topic of earning love is addressed. We know that nothing we can do can earn the love of God. He freely gives it.  God uses Rachel and Jacob to exemplify this kind of love. For a little bit of history on this story, Jacob was the son of Rebekah, and the twin brother of Esau. Jacob had just deceived his dying father into giving him the inheritance instead of his older brother, Esau. Rebekah then sent Jacob to a relatives to save him from the anger of Esau. When Jacob arrives, he is captivated by Rachel. Jacob went to Rachel’s father and agreed to work 7 years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage. Jacob did not struggle, however, as the years passed quickly because he loved her so much. Finally, on their wedding night, the veil was lifted, and revealed Jacob married Leah, the eldest sister, not Rachel. Even after seven years of trying to earn Rachel, Jacob did not get her. Love cannot be earned, but only given. The father then promises Jacob can marry Rachel, but must work 7 more years. “…and he loved her” Genesis 29:30 So what does this mean for the modern woman? The world is constantly trying to prove that yes, you too can “find” love as if it was hidden, and somehow earn it. Isn’t it great that we know a God that gives this freely? Imagine you had to display your life like a highlight reel and prove why you are worthy and deserving of love. What if you had to work 7 years of manual labor, thinking that was how you gained the love of another person. Imagine what you would have to do for the love of Jesus using this theory? What is “Love”? If love isn’t something that can be earned, than what is it? We as Christians know what love is because we have the best example of love: God. He loves us with such an all consuming, uncompresentive love. The Greek word for this type of love is “Agape” meaning “it embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance”. It is through this love that we love one another.  How does this apply to Millenials? In a world where it is being proclaimed that love is to be earned, we live giving thanks knowing we don’t have to earn His love. This love cannot be earned by proving our worth, but is freely given just as God has given it to us. God loved is so passionately, he sent his son for us. Not because we deserved it, but just because he loved us so much. How might understanding Agape love help you in your walk with Christ and others? Was there a situation you have been in that pressured you to think you needed to earn love? How can you apply Agape love in your life?

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