What Does the Bible Say about First Loves?
- Betsy St. Amant Haddox iBelieve Contributing Writer
- 2022 6 May
The phrase evokes powerful feelings. For many, the term conjures images of a first crush as a teenager, or impressions of “love at first sight.” But first love is a much more intimate concept than simply raging hormones and pictures of pulsing cartoon hearts. It’s God, Himself.
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. This means that any worldly love falls short of the true definition. Think about the most dynamic couples, real or fictional, that are known throughout history—Romeo and Juliet, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Johnny Cash and June Carter, to name a few. Now think about current celebrity match-ups in the media that make you swoon. As romantic as any of those might seem right now, those examples aren’t true love. Without God involved in the process, without that cord of three strands that isn’t easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12), no human relationship can ever be real love. It will always miss the mark.
1 Corinthians 13, known as the “love chapter,” states that “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I believe it’s important to note the greatest of these character traits only comes from God! He is the source of love—not romance novels, not sonnets and poetry, and certainly not Hollywood.
Here are three things the Bible reveals to us about first loves.
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1. God Loved Us First
Everything springs from this. Such a beautiful message of hope is found in 1 John 4:19. “We love, because He first loved us.” We don’t love because somehow we manage to dig deep down and conjure up our best effort—no, we love because God put it in us, via the Holy Spirit, to do so. Any desires toward love, holiness, purity, etc. toward others or toward the Lord only come from God. We are incapable of love on our own—yet we love because God first loved us. What a relief! Don’t you feel the burden rolling off your shoulders? Love is a gift from God, who is love Himself—Who became love in the flesh through Jesus Christ, who came to “deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)
Let the depth of this truth saturate your weary soul… let it seep in, let it comfort you with all the coziness of your favorite quilt. You are held. You are loved. And it has nothing to do with you or what you bring to the table, and everything to do with the God who created you, knew you from before the foundations of time (Jeremiah 1:5), and planned your days before you were even in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:16).
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2. We Often Leave Our First Love (Christ)
As comforting as it is to sit and bask in the reality of God’s love for us, we must also recognize the sobering concept of leaving our first love.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4)
Even as believers, we are not immune to apathy. Sometimes, we lose our fervor and passion for the things of the Lord. When we’re catering to our sin rather than confessing it, we block communication with the Holy Spirit. Conviction becomes fewer and farther between. We grow farther away from Christ. We stop praying, stop reading the Word, and start listening to the lies that we can never love or worse—be loved—again.
Rather than heeding the dark deceptions from the enemy, we should recognize our behavior, turn, and repent. Do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Admit it. God already knows. Avoiding prayer will only keep you feeling more and more disconnected, leaving ample room for the enemy to continue to tempt you.
There have been times in my Christian walk where it felt like my prayers hit the ceiling and it made me prone to not pray at all. In those times, the only prayer we need is “Lord, give me the want to want to.” Rather than hide in shame when we’re “prone to wander” and aren’t feeling a desire toward the things of God, we must shine truth on those dark thoughts, bring them into the light, and simply ask for those desires again. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of filling us back up.
In my experience, believers tend to occasionally disregard various disciplines of the faith because “that’s not what saves them.” I agree—it’s not. But I also realize that when we go through the motions of daily Bible reading, daily prayer, and consistent fellowship with the church, we’re more prone to stay in communion with the Holy Spirit and on the right path in our Christian walk. Sometimes, sitting down with the Word of God despite “not wanting to” will be exactly what’s needed to bring forth the desire. Actions often breed feelings, and this is one of the greatest offenses we have against spiritual warfare. The Word of God is our sword! Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart…” (Hebrews 4:12)
Even when you don’t feel like it—maybe especially when you don’t feel like it—pick up your sword anyway and start swinging. Protect and fight for your first love.
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3. We’re to Stay with Our Second “First Love”
“Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18)
Christ is and should always be our first love. But on earth, we’re granted the blessing of marriage (that won’t be recognized in heaven) that reflects the union of Christ and His bride—the church. It’s a holy covenant before the Lord, because it reflects His relationship with His beloved. To participate in that reflection is a gift and an honor. It’s not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, in our current culture, marriage today is often considered an extreme version of dating, where decisions of divorce are made as flippantly as high schoolers speed-dating.
Mark 10:9 says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” This verse does not mean that all divorce is forbidden. There are unfortunately circumstances of abandonment where spouses didn’t have a choice (Malachi 2:16), or marriages of physical abuse and unrepentant adultery (Matthew 5:31-32), that the Bible allows for the dissolving of a marriage. It’s painful and messy, regardless of the circumstances, and every story is unique to the person who carries it.
But far too often, marriages dissolve solely for the lack of commitment and desire to keep them going—lack of reverence for the covenant they represent.
"For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2)
"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." (Revelation 19:7-8)
While our ultimate first love is the Lord, our first love on earth—or what I’ve termed our “second first love” is our spouse. They deserve to be treated as such. They’re worthy to be protected, cherished, guarded, and loved for as long as both spouses shall live.
It's important to remember that it’s impossible to follow through with our role in a godly marriage if the first truth about love isn’t recognized—that God is love, and that He first loved us.
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