What is biblical love? It starts with commitment

willis 1By JASON REYNOLDS

TCN

Love is the foundation of every relationship you will have. Love is the mission of every Christian. Yet love is often misunderstood. One pastor is on a mission to help people gain biblical insight into love

Dave Willis is the author of “The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships” by Nelson Books. The pastor lives in Evans, Georgia, with his wife Ashley and their four sons. He and Ashley are the founders of StrongerMarriages.org, a Facebook site with more than 869,000 likes that seeks to strengthen marriages.

The launching of that site five years ago led to the new book, Willis said.

“The Facebook page has helped us put our thumbs on the pulse of what happens with modern marriages,” he said. “There is so much brokenness in marriages and relationships. As a culture, we have lost what it looks like. The journey is not to create something new but to point us back to what God had in mind when He created love.”

Willis said he looked for timeless principles of love in the Bible. He found seven consistent themes or rules or laws. “They’re all pretty basic. But it’s the basic we often lose sight of the most.”

I asked Willis which law is the most important. He said they are all equal, but the most foundational, the starting point, is commitment.

willis 2“Anymore, that’s almost a countercultural ideal,” he said. “I don’t even like having the same cell phone for six months, but when we take that consumer mentality into our relationships we treat people like a commodity we can trade in. When we look at someone and say “I love you,” we’re not expressing feelings but the way love is intended because it is a commitment, you mean ‘I will be there for you.’ Until we get the law of commitment then none of the others will make sense.”

When people lose sight of love as a commitment, divorce becomes an illusion, a solution people believe will fix all their problems.

“The idea of it we have is that every marriage problem can be fixed with divorce, but we take our relationship baggage and repeat the cycle,” Willis said. “I have to be committed to loving my spouse on the days I struggle to like my spouse. If it’s based on feelings then there is no foundation. Feelings are fickle and change like the weather.”

The generation “coming up today” is a hookup culture, Willis said. They use dating apps to connect in a very superficial level “really just for sex, and there’s not thought of commitment and no thought of what this is doing to erode the future of any marriage they may have.”

Social media helps lead people into having superficial relationships and people forget how to be truly vulnerable, he said. People become afraid that others will reject them if their flaws are visible. But love is something God gives to everyone regardless of where they are. “We don’t have to earn it, we can just come to Him just as we are.”

Willis said his book’s principles apply to all relationships, be they friendships, relatives or coworkers. Every other part of your life will improve when you understand true love. He said that as a pastor he has been with people on their deathbed who realized their faith, family and friends were all that mattered.

“Our world tempts us to chase after things that don’t matter as much. We have great careers and make lots of money and have a lot of plaques on the walls, but if our relationships are all superficial we have failed.”

The Millennial generation is unlike any other in taking action to help others in need and has such a deep concern for others, Willis said.

“They truly do care about other people, but that care is directed toward people they have never met in person. It shows the concern and gives me hope they know people matter. If they can take that desire to serve and do good for people and apply using these timeless principles … then I think so much good can come from that. That’s one bright spot. It’s a good thing but not a substitute for being in true relationships.”

Willis said he hopes his book makes a practical impact in people’s lives and points people back to God’s word.

In addition to StrongerMarriages.org, more information is available at DaveWillis.org and StrongerMarriages.com. The book is available at major booksellers, ThomasNelson.com and Amazon.

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