I leaned over to my classmate and whispered, "I wouldn't want to be married to anybody who goes around telling everybody how hard it is to love me."


He said, "I agree with you. Why don't you ask him about it?" Like a fool, I did.


I stood up and said, "Excuse me, sir . . . I am not quite comfortable with your categorization of love as 'hard work'."


The professor stared at me, evidently not taking too kindly to my challenge, and demanded, "Zacharias, are you married?"


When I responded, "No, sir," he said, "Then why don't you just be quiet and sit down? You don't have a clue what you are talking about." I sat down.


One year later I was married. After being married all these years, I can unblushingly say, he was right. Love is hard work. I would carry it one step further. It is the hardest work I know of, work from which you are never entitled to take a vacation. You take on burdens and cares. You inherit problems. You have to feel beyond yourself. You have to think of things other than yourself. You are now multiplied in your responsibilities and are trusted with greater commitments.


Chivalry in love has nothing to do with appearance. It has everything to do with the tenderness of a heart determined to serve. That is the first hard lesson to learn. You do not act under the impetus of charm but out of a commitment to make someone's life the joy you want it to be. In the early days of marriage, joy precedes the act. Tragically, as the years go by joy can be severed from the act until finally, the act itself is no more. This ought not to be. Over time it is the companionship that brings joy and service is the natural outworking of the joy of commitment. Failure to act kills it.


But this kind of care does not come easily. Only if it is taken seriously does it become a sheer delight of the heart. I will also add that this kind of care is not seen much in the times in which we live. The reason we have a crisis in our gender relationships is not that we are culturally indoctrinated but that we would rather be served than serve. We would rather be the head than the feet.

The Christian faith stands unique in pointing out that the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. The Son of Man came to serve. This means that the service He gave to humanity was given even when we least merited that sacrifice. There is a joy in service that transcends emotional temporariness.

Excerpt from I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah by Ravi Zacharias. ©W Publishing Group, 2004, Used with Permission

Click here to read a Q&A with Ravi Zacharias.