Decades ago, the Beatles sang, “I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love.” Ironically, they were the most popular band at the time, and one of the lyricists went on to become the highest-paid and wealthiest entertainer in England. Paul McCartney’s amorous escapades and marital difficulties certainly justified the wisdom of his words.
Love has many meanings, both biblically and culturally. But any way you look at it, love is an intangible, a feeling, an expression of emotion and will that cannot be purchased. It is something that is freely given by choice of the giver which, when genuine, is not easily revoked.
The wisest man who ever lived, ancient Israel’s King Solomon, wrote the greatest romantic story ever written. Enjoy these key verses from Song of Solomon: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised” (8:6, 7, NKJV). Sounds like love is pretty powerful and not up for sale.
Services can be bought, but love cannot. However, service can be a good indication that love is present in a relationship. A person can hire someone to clean the house, cook the food, mind the children, mend the clothing, and even provide physical pleasure. But that doesn’t mean these services are provided out of anything more than obligation to fulfill a contract. When the money stops, the benefits stop. There is, however, that intimate connection of love that can never be purchased or bargained for.
True love provides service when there is no compensation. We see this demonstrated by the spouse who cares for a disabled partner, or the parent who unselfishly nurtures a child in a vegetative state. The adult who experiences role reversal by supporting an elderly parent exhibits true love. Genuine love bonds people together in an ownership relation that is not easily broken by floods or fickle emotions. The word “ownership” may offend the modern mind, but that’s exactly what it is. When a person gives his or her heart to another, the beloved one owns that heart and is responsible to care for it. It is like a seal, which was the ancient symbol of ownership. The heart is freely given; indeed, any attempt to buy affection is utterly repulsive. Gifts are wonderful expressions of love, but they cannot purchase a heart.
The same is true in the spiritual world. God is after sincere hearts. He does not require service that is heartless and ritualistic. His love is freely given to all, and was demonstrated by the gift of His Son on Calvary’s cross, to pay for the sins of all men. A gift cannot be paid for by the recipient; that is a grave insult. Any attempts to serve God without a heart of love, without accepting the gift of love He offers everyone, won’t buy His love.
God’s love cannot be rented on Sunday mornings or Friday or Saturday nights or religious holidays. He doesn’t sit in the heavenly Temp Agency, waiting for us to call Him when we need Him. He can’t be bribed with tradition or sacrifice. We can’t just pay attention to Him when we feel like it, out of hope that He will compensate us at some point. That is no more love than hiring a maid or cook or carpenter or nurse or prostitute to meet our needs. That is a mere business transaction. Only in this case, God does not reward attempts to finagle anything out of Him. He has made His intentions clear: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).
Unrequited love is one of the most difficult situations to deal with. It’s hard enough to handle when a person is somehow disabled and unable to participate, but it’s especially hard when the recipient of our love is purposely unresponsive. God, of course, expects a response to His love, which is our love demonstrated by obedience, first to the gospel invitation, then to His commands. “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 1:8). “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13).
God doesn’t ask us to just believe that He exists: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19, NKJV). He expects us to love Him: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Money can’t buy me love. Nothing can buy anyone love, least of all God’s love. He offers it freely, expecting nothing in return except our heart. Sounds like a good deal to me!
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