Many men approach intimacy with the objects of their affection as they would a vending machine. They pay the quarter, press E6 to get the candy bar, and then, “My, that was delicious.” This is not how a lover loves.
A lover isn’t motivated primarily by self-satisfaction but by relationship. Lovers are involved in the process of loving. Lovers woo and entreat. A lover is focused on the one they love.
Love is about interaction and relationship. Love is for enjoying the one you love. There’s never enough time for a lover, because love never stops. There isn’t a start and end time, because there isn’t a goal line for the lover. A lover isn’t looking for satisfaction, because a lover satisfies. A lover’s satisfaction is in the gift of satisfying.
Sure a lover receives pleasure, but a lover’s aim isn’t to that end. The loving is the aim. Another analogy would be eating out of the refrigerated case at a convenience store versus fine dining. Sure, both fill my gut, but fine dining is a prolonged experience of enjoyment, while eating at a convenience store is simply satisfying my appetite. The results are quite different. One is empty calories propping me up until another feeding. The other is an experience of life.
Being the lover celebrates my highest nature, where using another to satisfy myself is bestial. Seeking to gratify my urges lowers me, even as it trashes the victim of my gratification. I make common what is intended to represent something holy.
The purpose of loving is to represent my Beloved. The design of being a lover on this earth is to be a representation of our Heavenly Example. And in all reality, it’s only done as Jesus Himself loves through me. You see, even if I set out to be a lover, if self is the source, self will be the motivation. Apart from Christ’s Life, it’s impossible to love without being involved in love for self. There is only One Lover, and that is God.
We become a lover by being loved by the Lover. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). I can only be a lover by receiving my Beloved, and then letting my Beloved be the Lover through me. God has enough love to love the whole world, but being His beloved is quite a different thing. God’s love is holiness itself, and to be His beloved is different than the love He has for all of creation. This is the love that is less common and more holy.
There’s Valentino, Casanova, Romeo, etc…all notable lovers for sure. But as I said, if self is the source, self will be the motivation. Even the highest human expression and demonstration of love is still at its core—for self.
The reason Christ’s love was so amazing is that it was for the Father. This seems strange to reference when speaking of romantic love, but when a man loves with the love of God rather than the love of self, there is a connection with the Divine order of love, which considers the whole of the one being loved, down to their very DNA.
When I am loved as God’s beloved, then and only then can I be a true lover. I can only love because He has first loved me. His love is life-changing in and through me. When He has first place as my Beloved, then He also has first rights to love through me. A divine lover is not relegated to simple marital or romantic love, but as a source of God’s intimate love towards those He’s called you to be in relationship with as well. A divine lover is a beacon of Divine Love and Life. This is so much more than physical love – it makes us a literal fountain of His Life.
Yes, we love Him because He first loved us. If a man says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if he does not love the brother before his eyes how can he love the one beyond his sight? And in any case it is His explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother too.
1 John 4:19-21 (Phillips)