Today’s Scripture: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” Those joyous words were penned by a woman who suffered from debilitating illness. Because of her lung disease, Elizabeth Barret spent most of her life in a darkened room where she would sit alone and write poetry. Another famous poet, Robert Browning, grew to admire her work, and the two began to correspond. These two poets fell in love and were later married in 1846. Soon after their marriage, Elizabeth’s health began to improve. One night, as Robert sat by the fire, she slipped some papers into his pocket. These papers were a series of 43 sonnets she had written about her growing love for him, and how it had changed her life. In her eighth sonnet, she begins with these words: “the face of all the world is changed. I think since I first heard the footsteps of your soul.”

Not only does this story beautifully picture the way that we should view marriage, but it also illustrates how we should feel about the Lord. Marriage is the epitome of a relationship and is a reflection of the fellowship God desires to have with us. Relationships are so important to God; He immediately recognized that Adam needed a mate and provided a companion for him. In this relationship created by God, the man was designed to desire respect and praise for his efforts as protector and provider, while the woman was created to desire his love. Together, the two complete each other. C.S. Lewis once said, “…Love is a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habits reinforced by the grace which both partners ask and receive from God. On this love, the engine of marriage is run. Being in love was the explosion that started it all.”

God demonstrated His love in an amazing way when He died for us at Calvary. He didn’t say, “When you clean up your act, I will love you.” He sacrificed before we even knew we had a need. He gave Himself before we ever loved Him. Are you willing to follow His example and commit to unconditional, sacrificial love in your marriage? When your loved one is struggling spiritually, hurting emotionally, or suffering physically, are you going to say, “I’m going to help you in any way that I can. I will do everything within my power to lift you up and help you stand again.”? Purpose today that, with God’s strength, you are going to unconditionally love your spouse: not only with your love but also with God’s sacrificial love.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.