If love was a sentiment that depended on someone else’s actions and reactions, or an emotion over which you had no control, Jesus wouldn’t have said, ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ That means love is a choice you make. It’s initiated by your will.
Jesus also said, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’ (Luke 6:27–28 NKJV) And what He commands you to do, He will give you the grace to carry out.
For thousands of years (and to this day in some Eastern cultures), parents arranged their children’s marriages. Many brides and bridegrooms never saw each other until their wedding day. A certain young lady from India was to be married to a man she didn’t know. One day she received a letter from her fiancé, designed to acquaint her with him prior to the wedding. But the bride-to-be returned the letter unopened, saying she believed love should be developed after marriage, not before. ‘When we’re born,’ she wrote, ‘we don’t get to choose our mother, father, brothers and sisters, yet we learn to live with them and to love them. So it is with a husband or wife.’ In societies that endorse this philosophy, divorce is almost non-existent.
Now, we’re not advocating arranged marriages, but the notion of ‘romantic love’ that’s so prevalent today has little to do with a successful marriage. When you endeavour to love someone unconditionally the way Christ loves you, you experience joy and fulfilment.