True Love: How Do You Know When You Find It?

by Jack Wellman on January 15, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

How do you know it is true love when you find it?  How can you be sure it is true love or just infatuation?  What are the differences between lust and love?

True Love

It is not a “falling in love” as much as it is a growing in love.

The World’s Definition of Love

Most people use the word love loosely.  They love their team…they love to win…the love the spring, but this is not really the essence of love.  The dictionaries definition of love is a tender affection for someone or something; a romantic or sexual feeling for someone; to like something or someone very much.  None of these definitions will help someone who is looking for true love that would lead to marriage.  Love is not just a noun, it is a verb; it’s what you do that is truly love.  For example, Christ loves the church. Did He just have affection or feelings for them?  No!  He loved the church so much that He took action.  He died for those who would come to Him in trusting faith.  For any that come to Him and place their trust in Him, His blood was spilled so that they could have an eternal relationship with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus’ love was so powerful that He willingly gave His life for those who belong to Him.

Lust on the other hand is something that is more like coveting or gratifying the flesh. There is no good thing that has ever come out of lust between an unmarried couple.  Premarital sex is forbidden by God and any sexual contact between a man and a woman can quickly lead to sexual immorality.  Jesus said that even lusting after a man or woman in their heart is the same thing as committing adultery (Matt 5:28).  A couple that lives together for the sake of “getting to know them better“ faces higher risks of adultery and the rates of divorce are much higher than those who do not.  Living together is sin according to the Bible.  There are no reasons good enough to cohabitate with another person for the sake of knowing if they would make a good husband or wife.

How do you Know When You Find True Love?

If you are someone who is looking for true love, there are many things to take into consideration.  If you are a believer, the Bible says that we must not be unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14).  This means that Christians are commanded to not marry someone who is not a believer.  You can not have a mixed marriage.  An believer can not be married to an unbeliever any more than you can mix oil with water.  The two might fit into a jar, but they will not mix and will always tend to separate because of their spiritual nature.  In the case of non-believers and Christians, they  may agree on some things but will disagree on many of the most important issues.

When you find your soul mate or “the one”, you may not recognize them right away.  They will not always be able to finish your sentences or know what you are thinking.  They likely will know how you feel about having children, what you believe about disciplining children, whether you want to live in the city or the country, or whether you like football or ballet.  It is not a “falling in love” as much as it is a growing in love.  It is not impossible but it is truly a rare thing for someone to love a person at first sight.  It is hard to look into the heart and know what they are like.  The only way you can really know what type of person they are is to spend time with them.  This means spending times that are good and times that are bad; times of good health and times of sickness; times of enduring patience and times of outbursts of anger.  One counselor told me that if you want to know how a man or woman will treat you after you are married, look how they treat their parents.

As a father of a daughter, I treat her with unconditional love, I am polite to her, I open doors for her, I love her despite her faults or behaviors and I buy her things that I know that she will like.  I try to never hurt her but I am not perfect of course.  I have made many mistakes and will make more in the future but I am eager to utter perhaps the five most important words anyone can say to their children or their spouse: “I’m sorry” and “I love you.” I want to set the bar at a level where she will not be satisfied with any man treating her in a lesser way than the way that her father did.  In my doing this, I am showing her reasonable expectations that a man should be showing her, in being considerate of her feelings, and in being quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  I want her future husband to be able to apologize and to admit mistakes.  That is a human love that I pray and desire for my only daughter.

The Bible’s View of True Love

Nearly everyone at one time or another has sought love.  A desire to love and to be loved.  Humans are born with the need for love and several studies suggest that even babies that are denied love will die without it.  A spouse who loses their long-loved mate will often die within years of the death of their husband or wife.  A biblical definition of love is valued above that of a human definition because the Word of God is true and never varies with the culture and times.  God’s love remains unchanging over eternity and is not conditioned upon a person’s conduct or behavior.

When I was dating my wife before marriage, we became best friends.  I think this is vital.  Friends confide in each other, they share things with each other that they do not share with others; they know that they can trust this person even when they discover the worst things about them.  Your best friend is someone you can share your joys, your sorrows, your victories, and your defeats with.  In my opinion and from my own personal experience, unless a couple becomes best friends first, they can not become a successful husband and wife.  A friend knows your weaknesses, they know your strengths, they know your faults…yet, they still love you.  You can marry someone you are not best friends with or with someone you don’t know well, but you can not expect the marriage to be the best. Surely even godly marriages have problems and in fact every marriage on the face of the earth go through difficulties, but marrying someone you do not know well is asking for trouble. Jesus knows our hearts, He knows us better than we know ourselves, He knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and He is prepared to marry us – collectively – the church, which is called His bride.

Christ’s Love for the Church

Christ loved the church (His Bride) so much that He died for her.  He is engaged to the church and she is called the Bride of Christ.  He gave His life for His bride. There has been no greater love that has ever existed than Jesus has for His church – and some day soon He will marry her at the marriage supper feast, when Christ marries His bride.  The Bride is to prepare herself today and make herself ready.  Jesus said that He is coming again and will forever be with His church and will never divorce her like God was forced to do with Old Testament Israel because of their infidelity.

God commands the wife to love her husband but even more important is for her to respect her husband.  A wife is to be loved by her husband with a life-sacrificing love that is an image of how Christ loves the church.  By no means will it be that type of perfected love, but that is what she needs most.  He needs respect the most.  To her, being loved is of the utmost importance…for him, she shows him love by respecting him (Eph 5).  These are the ways that men and women are wired by God.  God has made them male and female in such a particular way. Even though they have differences, the opposite tendencies make them complete and as one.  Marriage is a miracle in some sense because men and women are so radically different.  This may be what attracts one to the other.  Each have particular abilities and strengths that make a wholeness in a marital unit that a single man or woman alone can never have.

Time Will Tell

The advice that I have heard frequently is that to really know a man or woman well enough to marry they should have a period of engagement:  No longer than 12 months but no shorter than 3 is what most Christian marriage counselors suggest.  Prayer is the most critical step.  It should be obvious that pre-marital counseling is also crucial. You will have a feeling of peace over an extended period of time about someone you are planning to marry or are thinking about marrying. You will have known them long enough to see them at their worst and to see them at their best.  You will have seen how they react to certain situations and to see what type of spouse they would be in a marriage.  You may have seen them around children and can gather what type of parent they would be and perhaps how they would react under pressure.

I can not emphasize enough the fact that you need to talk to a godly marriage counselor or pastor, go through some personal inventory questions over personality issues, establish whether you desire to have children or would rather not and what type of security there is in each others present situations in life.  One article alone is not enough to guide you through such an important and lifelong decision.  After you have went through all the things that I just mentioned, you will begin to have an inner peace, an eager expectation to be with them as much as possible and a feeling of being completely miserable when you are not together.  No one should ever marry someone to complete their life or think that this will solve their problems.  Also, never marry someone who has a substance or alcohol abuse problem and think that they can cure them of it.

I believe you will know the right one by the way he or she treats his or her mother and father, how he or she acts around children, what his or her mannerisms are like in public, what movies he or she likes and doesn’t like. These will show you a lot about them.  Even more important, does he or she pray with you if you go out to dinner in public, does he or she read the Bible frequently, does he or she know the Bible, what is his or her language like, does he or she attend church?  Maybe some or all of these will help you find your true love.

The first marriage ceremony was performed by God.  In my opinion, my wife was sent by God’s sovereignty.  She is like a precious gift from God to me.  Marriage is an institution designed and created by God.  It is not good for man or woman to be alone but be cautious because God hates divorce (Mal 2:16).  I believe it is God who joins the husband and wife together…and when God has joined them together, the two become one flesh (Gen. 2:24, Mark 10:8) .  There is no more special relationship in the human race than that of husband and wife.  This takes time, effort, prayer, counseling and education, but when you find it there is nothing greater on this earth than finding true love and doing so in the way God intended for you to do it.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like reading this one also:

1 Corinthians 13: Bible Summary and Study on Love

Resources:

New International Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 214 comments… read them below or add one }

John October 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Hi pastor. I’ve been truly troubled by what’s happened lately. I’ve been with my girlfriend for about 3.5 years. It started like how any BGR – really really sweet honey moon phase. (Im crying and missing it now) And we loved each other.

We are both christians and attend the same church/service. I guess God wasn’t happy with our relationship when lust came about, so much so that we almost broke up. We always try to work things out after break up talk but nothing really worked until recently when I tried to just let go and let God take control. I started attending services alone and seek God’s words.

Things got FELT better and we started to get along pretty well, like how we used to until recently, I found out that she’s been cheating on me. with another girl.
I don’t know if i could consider it as cheating but she is in this whole want to be with the girl but can’t cause she’s in a relationship with me and she’s christian.

She is confused if her feelings towards this girl is love/lust. I would think that is lust because i’ve always known that she has an attraction towards girls. I was heart broken when i read her private blog by accident. She would talk about how much she misses her. Every detail, just like a high school coming of age movie. What really killed me was when i read about them hanging out behind my back, got drunk, went to the same toilet cubicle and did things. All that was written was “swollen lips. What happens in the cubicle stays in the cubicle.”

We get along well and I can’t emphasise enough just how much i love her. What i read really broke my heart and I’m planning to speak to her about this. I don’t want us to part and i don’t feel like God wants us to part. (I’ve prayed a lot)
Another reason why i think i shouldn’t leave her is because i don’t think leaving her would do her any good.
1) she’s going to have less faith in relationships/love.
2) she’s going to do more shameful things with the girl.
I feel like i should set this example of God’s love. I feel like God put me with her to guide her and show her what true love feels like and of course, it is unconditional and great. I feel like i should forgive her and continue to love her. However, i am not God and this one sided love affair can’t happen if she doesn’t cut her off.

I believe she still has feelings for me but i wouldnt know until we talk. I don’t know what i am here for, perhaps i need people to pray for me. Perhaps i am seeking wisdom for this coming weekend where i’ll finally bring this up after service. I’m helpless.

p/s i think its all my fault for allowing this to happen because if we didn’t engage in sexual activities her perception of love/relationship wouldn’t be as screwed as it is now.

Reply

Jack Wellman October 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I think you shouldn’t blame yourself for her sin because we are all caught up by our own lusts, as James wrote in his book in the Bible. Are you having sex with her now? Have you had sex with her before? I might offend you but your reasons for not leaving her are not godly as you said: “she’s going to have less faith in relationships/love.
and she’s going to do more shameful things with the girl.” She doesn’t sound trustworthy for now. If you are having sexual immorality issues with her, please, please stop now. Talk to your pastor about this right away. You are not helpless. Follow what your conscience says, not what you think will keep her from stumbling because that’s not a good reason my friend.

Reply

Carolyn December 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Hello Jack,

I am a little embarrassed even writing this email as I ‘know’ better, but I am hopeful for some encouragement. Some background on me: virgin, 49, black woman. I have been a Christian since I was 9 years old. As I grew up and matured in the faith, I received a call to ministry. I am in the second year of a four year seminary program to pursue a theological education as I believe this is part of God’s plan for my life. I am also called to minister to woman to recapture the beauty of God’s standards for women in a world where feminism ideologies have misguided us. I have counseled countless women to find God’s will for their lives, to live holy and to pray for a godly mate.

I personally do these things as well. And I thought I would be married with children by now. But, I am not and during this time I developed cancer and lost the ability to have children. However, God in his graciousness has given me peace on the children matter.

So what is my issue? I sometimes feel like God has forgotten me (although I know He has never left me), but my heart just feels like it is breaking into pieces. I’m getting older and I want to be married to the man God has for me. Why would God give me this desire to experience human marital love and yet not fulfil it? I do not want to be a desperate silly woman, but I am fighting desperation everyday as I see wedding after wedding invitations of my 25 to 30 year old classmates.

Please offer some encouragement in ways other than ‘single and satisfied’ commentaries that are normally said to women.

Thank you

Reply

Jack Wellman December 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

No need to be embarrassed my dear sister in Christ. It appears that God has placed you in such a position to minister to these women in a powerful way. God has equipped you with your seminary training, as a counselor to women already and now the enemy wants to discourage you and take away your witness and your laboring in love for Him. Don’t let the enemy win. While I believe all churches should prize marriage and family, I also believe we have to be careful about the unintentional messages potentially conveyed about marriage and family. Both are gifts for this life alone. The one relationship that survives eternally is the one we have as the Bride of Christ to our beloved Savior. The relationships that we all have as brothers and sisters in Christ are the ones that will not end—and these need to be cultivated as much as family life is cultivated. Additionally, single adults need to be reminded that God has not withheld his very best from them if they remain unmarried.

1st Cor 7:33-35 says ” An unmarried man (or woman) is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man (or woman) is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Ladies do have a special place of ministry in the New Testament. Paul, in speaking to the Philippians, referred to those “women which labored with me in the gospel” (Philippians 4:3). These women labored. They labored with Paul. And, they labored in the gospel. That is, they worked to get the gospel out to the lost. They probably reach certain groups better than men; namely, women and children. As last I recall, women make up about half of all people in the world—actually more, because they live longer. When you add male children to those who can be reached by ladies, they can directly minister to about 60% or 70% of any population. And in a more personal and intimate way than a man can. This means that they can teach them, win them to the Lord, disciple them and counsel them.

Ladies can reach out to all in helping ministries just as Martha did in Luke 10:40 as Lydia did when she offered her house as a place of worship (Acts 16:14-15). We all have limitations. They are not barriers to service given by a vindictive God. They are rather funnels to direct us to more profitable service for Him.

Does this help you Grace? God has placed in the Body each member as it pleased Him and its all for His glory. Now go out there and make disciples of others….for God has equipped you and placed you as best for His divine plan and within His sovereign will.

Reply

missy December 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm

hi there is it possible to ask a few questions on here that i have with relationships and love as a new christian, if not where do i do so? thanks

Reply

Jack Wellman December 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

By all means Missy, please feel free to ask questions here. I will try to respond as time allows. Thank you.

Reply

Swati Singh January 2, 2015 at 9:30 am

Respected sir
I m so thankful for all the help from you . Its God’s grace that i am completely free from all bonds that i told you about. This year i m going to make God the source of all my love-needs as he loves me more than anyone else.He is also the complete source of all my strength for my studies. Instead of expecting love from friends and relations i want to love others in Jesus unconditionally.I will meditate on all the verses you suggested.Thank you for being such a blessing sir!!!! :) May God use you more. Wishing you and your dear family a very fruitful New year!

Reply

Jack Wellman January 2, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Hello Swati…I remember you name sir. May God richly bless you for this very great encouraging comment. I pray this gives others hope and thank you so much for your kind blessing my brother in Christ.

Reply

osato January 9, 2015 at 12:43 am

hello sir,
i have a question that has been bugging me for a while now. i have had some very responsible christian brothers come up to me to ask for us to be in serious relationships but i have not been able to get in to one because frankly i dont seem to have “feelings” for any of them.. i dont know why but i dont feel the same way they do. i have considered just going into a relationship with one of them but i am afraid that i would only be miserable and in turn make them miserable. So my question is, are feelings important in a christian relationship? or should you just pick someone and hope to love them as christ wants you to over time? and is there something wrong with me by any chance?

Reply

Jack Wellman January 9, 2015 at 9:17 am

Hello my friend and thank you for your comment and question. In the first place, please don’t ever get into a relationship unless you have feelings with someone. If you have no feelings for them, that is a sign that you are not going to be happy going forward in this relationship. Yes, beauty is more inside but we have to have some kind of attraction and feelings must be present. In the cases of those who had a relationship, I remember when Jacob saw Rachel, he loved her when he first saw her. Feelings are important. There is nothing wrong with you. Not having any feelings yet for someone is a sign that you haven’t met the right person yet that God may have planned for you. There should be no hurry.

Reply

osato January 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

thank you so much for your reply. i really appreciate it. Thank you

Reply

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