In 2013, John and Ann Betar became the oldest known American married couple as they celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary. Their advice on staying happily married includes the following: “Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive each other. Live accordingly,” John advises. And Ann adds, “It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing.”
The longing in any marriage is in knowing that the affection of your spouse is directed solely toward you. The Song of Songs captures this active commitment with two lovers delighting in and yearning for each other (Song of Songs 1:15-16, Song of Songs 3:1-3). They love and are loved in return (Song of Songs 2:16, Song of Songs 7:10) and are satisfied and content in each other’s company (Song of Songs 2:16, Song of Songs 4:9-11, Song of Songs 7:10). Surely this can be one of life’s greatest joys.
The earthly love between husband and wife, however, is an echo of the passionate love and fervent pursuit of Jesus for those who believe in Him—His bride. The powerful and deceptive lure of sin forced a chasm between God and man, turning our affections away from our first love and focusing our attention on the temporary things of this world—resulting in emptiness, death, and destruction (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).
But herein lies the greatest love story: “This is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
While it’s beautiful to see the love a man and woman can share for decades, it pales compared to the amazing love God extends to us for eternity. That’s the greatest love story!
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Judges 7:1-25
Read Romans 5:1-2 and consider how the broken relationship between God and us has been restored through Jesus.
What marks a truly loving and beautiful marriage? How is God’s love for us even more beautiful?