Step Into the River of Love

Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts. Love is in the air and loudly promoted in the stores. Everywhere I look I see hearts, little cupid people, tons of chocolate boxes and some really enticing merchandise . . . all because of love! But is true love what we’re seeing promoted this month?

I don’t think you’ll find an assortment of Valentine cards with this message on it: “True Love happens when you put yourself last” or “True Love comes through dying!” You might find a few that talk about “I’m dying to have you” or “Gotta have your love or I’ll die!”

True love is a different brand than what we see on store shelves today.

True love flows in a reciprocal stream. It’s a complementary dance of receiving and giving in kind. It’s what Jesus was referring to when He startled the religious leaders with the simple call to love God and love others (Matthew 22:34–40). And this is the call Jesus extends to us as His disciples.

Don’t miss this—the cost of this discipleship Jesus calls us to (living out love), is . . . death!  

[box]And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23–24).[/box]

Love is painful. Love is vulnerable. Love plunges into relationship knowing it will encounter pain and rejection. Love is what compelled God to create, even while knowing man would rebel, knowing separation would occur, knowing the fall would require redemption in order for reconciliation to take place.

True love requires personal sacrifice and sometimes, even death. 

Love can mean rescuing someone in mortal danger by taking heroic measures which may cost your life, but a literal death is not what I’m talking about. That type of literally laying down our lives in physical death to rescue another is rarely required. But in order to cultivate true love a true death is required—the death to self. And the kind of self-death I’m describing is not a onetime occurrence. It will need to be repeated daily, even moment by moment.

This figurative death allows us to live the crucified life described by the apostle Paul:

[box]I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).[/box]

The crucified life enables you to bear the fruit of love which only comes through the humility of dying.  

Letting go, laying down your life, in order to pick up the cross to die, allows Christ to live and love through you. It allows you to experience intimate unity with Him as well as with your mate.

Putting to death self-centered agendas, selfish pursuits, self-motivated plans, self-pity and self-absorption, will require laying it all down. It may be a painful release, but from that death, the river of love will flow. From that death bursts precious fruit:

[box]Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).[/box]

Because of the love we’ve been shown by Christ, we have the ability to love others. His love becomes an overflowing stream; a steady river working its way from the Source throughout creation. Love flows from the Savior, to you, then through you to your mate, your children, family and friends, flowing from them back to you, and from you back to the Savior.

True love delights in the widening of its banks to quench an ever-growing number of thirsty souls!

Ready to step into the river of love? Let’s take the plunge—death to self, but life in Christ, and overflowing love for Him and others!

Excerpt from Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior © 2012• Kimberly Wagner • Moody Publishers


  • Vivian Etherington

    I could write this comment on either one of your last two posts….I love yesterday’s and today’s posts and am so grateful for the perspective on love you give here. Once again, goes right along with how God spoke to and dealt with my heart last night. Our teacher in Bible study last night connected Paul’s prayer in Col 2:2 ” that their hearts may be…knit together in love” with Christ’s prayer for us in John 17:21 ” that they may be one…” She also took us to Phil.2, bringing out humility and dying to self! Again I was convicted (prayed for that) to the point of tears! I love it when God convicts so unmistakably and specifically! I was convicted of my selfishness in my marriage, which displays itself more in underlying thoughts and attitudes, in withdrawing into my own world, not necessarily in things like arguing or outward things like that. I know that if I am not intentional and thoughtful, my default is to do what benefits me and what I want to do rather than “count him more significant than myself”. Thank you for these posts this week and for keeping God’s definition of love before us! I love you and am so grateful God chose for our paths to cross!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    I love this testimony, Viv! You stated specific things God has convicted you of, through Scripture and Bible study, and are giving God all the glory as you exalt Him and His Word in relaying what He is doing in your life. I love it 🙂

    Rejoicing with you for His great mercy and grace applied to our lives!

    Praying for you and Mark to enjoy a precious evening together. Love to you and all your family!