Falling In and Out of Love
Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms . . . He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside?” Genesis 24:29-31
When we first fall into romantic love, there’s a dopamine flood in our brain, which provides an intensely pleasurable feeling. We refer to this as love, but the reality is that we simply love how the other person makes us feel. The problem is that, just like with a drug, we develop a tolerance to the relationship and the high eventually wears off. If this infatuation isn’t replaced by something – authentic love or an emotional dependence on that person – then we fall out of love. Young love is simply an intense desire for how that person makes us feel. Authentic love, however, is an intense desire the good of the other.
Though it doesn’t involve romantic love, there’s something similar going on in my interactions with everyone around me. In my relationships, it’s only natural to be selfishly motivated, treating people differently depending on how they make me feel. For instance, if I meet a wealthy, attractive, successful individual in clinic, I’m prone to treat him differently than I would a down-and-out addict who needs a bath. Why? Because how that person makes me feel, determines how I act towards them. Like I said, this is only natural, but natural isn’t always right. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). True love isn’t motivated by what I get out of it. Rather, I must love others as Christ loved me, seeking their good, not out of self-interest, but because God loves them.
Today’s passage illustrates the wrong kind of love. In the story, Abraham sent his servant to seek a wife for his son Isaac. God orchestrated a meeting between the servant and Rebekah, who took the servant home to meet her brother Laban. When Laban saw the wealth of the servant – camels and gold – he fell in love with what this man could do for him. Laban acted lovingly, but his motivation was only self-interest.
As Christians, we’re commanded to love others as Christ loved us. His love wasn’t based on what we could do for him. God simply loved us – even when we desperately needed a bath. As he has loved us, we must love those around us, not because of what they can do for us, but because God loves them. We don’t naturally fall into authentic love for everyone around us. Daily though, if we desire to follow Christ, we must choose to act lovingly towards neighbors – even when they need a bath.