Love Defined: A Honeymoon Revival

It had only been two weeks since my wedding day. I was a fresh new bride, excited about the future with my new husband. We were in love and “in the clouds,” as our families would say. As fabulous as everything seemed to be going, I found myself awake one night on our honeymoon, unable to sleep. I glanced over at my husband to find him fast asleep. As much as I loved the handsome man sleeping next to me, I wrestled in my heart with unmet expectations.

You see, prior to marriage, I had imagined specific things about what my honeymoon and marriage would be like. I pictured perfect scenes with a husband who would naturally anticipate my every need. I dreamed up the perfect first month and assumed everything would go according to my plan.

My dream world was absolutely perfect! But it was just that—a dream world. My secret imaginations didn’t include the fact that I was a sinner marrying a sinner. My dreams forgot to include what real, sacrificial love looks like. My fantasies just assumed I would be the perfect wife and that he would be the perfect husband.

As I lay there in the middle of the night, I began to realize how unrealistic and self-centered many of my expectations had been. The Holy Spirit softly convicted me of how selfish my perspective of love was. Rather than focusing on how I could love and serve my new husband, I had been micro-analyzing all the ways in which He could serve me better.

Did I mention I had only been married for two weeks? Yeah, say “hello” to my sinful heart.

As I read through 1 John 4, I was reminded of what true love looks like. Unlike my selfish version of love, God’s version isn’t based on emotions but on actions. God’s version of love isn’t about getting but about giving. I saw that Christ-centered love is about sacrificing your wants and desires for the good of others.

Here are some of the verses that hit me between the eyes that night:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9–10).

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).

These verses pierced my heart. With tears silently streaming down my face, I knew I hadn’t been loving Zack (my husband) with this sort of love. I confessed my selfishness to God and asked Him for strength to become a wife who sacrificially loves her husband as Christ does.

This middle-of-the-night heart revival did wonders for the rest of my honeymoon and marriage!

If you’re single right now (or newly married), you may be stuck in the same fantasy world that I was. When you imagine a future romance and marriage, what does it look like? Is it a perfect fairy tale? What type of love do you envision?

Most of us pray and hope for a vibrant marriage with lasting love, but so few of us understand what true, Christ-centered love actually looks like. Lasting love isn’t sustained on infatuation and good looks. It’s sustained on loving Christ first, then sacrificially loving those around you.

The most commonly used word for love in the Bible is the Greek word agape. It’s used over 259 times and literally means “self-sacrifice.” In our new book, Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for True Love and Lasting Relationships, I put it this way:

God-defined love is built not on a foundation of self but rather on a foundation of self-sacrifice. Whether a woman is single or married, her greatest needs will only be met when she’s faithfully walking in a relationship with Christ.

If you desire to have a beautiful marriage one day with lasting love, start practicing agape love right now. Ask Christ to help you deny yourself and sacrificially love the people in your life. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, friends, boyfriend, or husband, choose to serve them. As Christ demonstrated His love for us through His actions, may we demonstrate that same love to those around us.

This kind of love is what lasting marriages are built on.

If you want to learn more about God’s beautiful design for love, romance, and marriage, I encourage you to check out our new book, Love Defined. Log on to the giveaway widget below before leaving us a comment for your chance to win a free copy!

I’d love to hear from you.

  • Why do you think agape love is more challenging to live out?
  • In what ways can you put agape love into practice today?

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About Author

Kristen Clark

Kristen Clark and her sister ( blogger, Bethany Baird) are the founders of GirlDefined Ministries. Together they authored the book Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • A pattern I’ve notice when girls talk about their expectations being to high is that they tended to imagine what their husbands would do for them. But how often do girls dream about what they can do FOR their husbands? Going for specifics? Obviously you can’t have unrealistic expectations either way, but it would probably balance things out better if a girl were imagining ways to love her husband, not just thinking about her own needs. Plus, there are love languages and real needs vs. perceived needs to be more food for thought.

  • Lillian

    I think that agape love is hard to live out because our deep-set selfishness and how when given two option we normally choose the option that will benefit us the most. However, we need to realize that is a sin and start choosing to love differently. As a single girl, I can learn to show this sort of love to my family members by putting them before myself.

  • Lois

    I think it is harder to live agape love out because it goes against our selfish nature. 🙂

  • Emma Stapleton

    I think that it’s harder to show agape love because we have to be the ones to sacrifice, and it’s the opposite type of love than what we imagine in fairytales. I can practice that love all the time. Whether it’s siblings, parents, or friends.

  • Lottie

    This is so helpful. Thank you x

  • Keren

    Agape love is difficult because it goes against my inclination to be self-centered.. My sinful heart always wants to do things that draws attention to myself, so its not easy to be sacrificial.

  • Emma Mueller

    Thanks for all your hard work and encouragement, Kristen and Bethany! Agape love can be so hard. Even when we think we are serving the needs of others, if we look more closely, we will often see we are still looking to keep ourselves comfortable and benefit ourselves.

  • Anna

    Great post!
    For the first question, I agree with Emma Stapleton and Lois. Human nature is rather selfish, and we would rather receive love than sacrifice to show love to others. I read Matthew 5:46 recently which says; “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans do the same?” Showing the love of Christ is not loving only when you get love back, its loving all the time.
    I can practice agape love on my family today, esp. on my lil brother. 😛

  • Tera V.

    Agape is difficult because it simply takes effort and practice. It’s soooo much easier to be selfish than to put others first. Especially when others don’t put you first sometimes.

  • Makenna

    Thank you for this excellent post, Kristen! You are so encouraging. 🙂

  • J

    Too many of us are trying to do what is impossible in our will power and pretty much dismiss the Spirit of God doing this work in us. We are incapable of doing what is right, just and pure. Marriage, and all things for that matter, requires submission to the Holy Spirit to walk as God intends. Jeremiah 17 reminds us that the heart is deceitful. Unless, God guides me, I know I’m incapable of loving as I ought to, even if I think I am doing it. I believe that the more I walk in obedience the more I will joyfully love the way He wants me to love. When it’s hard, I pray and I remind myself through scripture what He says. When I fail, I repent and I keeping trusting. I’ll never accompolish “love.” I just trust the Holy Spirit will help me in becoming better each day until my perfect love returns for me some day.

  • Erika

    Thank you Kristen! This love is so hard to do but through Christ we can do all things!
    God bless!

  • Jocelyn

    Agape love may be against our sinful nature and our flesh, but if we pause and think about how Christ has loved us through the ugliness of our sin, how he chased us down into the places we are too ashamed to tell others we ventured; we may find it less difficult to show that same love to others. Just some encouragement when you find it difficult to show agape love.
    I pray for God to show me how, provide me with opportunities to show that love to others each day; beginning with my husband and spreading to our family, my co-workers, strangers, anyone I can bless with an unexpected gesture. Sometimes even a smile is all it takes to make some else’s day…and sometimes smiling is the most self-sacrificing thing we can do. We can admit it, there are days like that!
    Thank you for your post and all your ministry does, ladies. We are praying for y’all as you reach young women at such a vulnerable time in their lives! God is good!

  • Kelsey Thoman

    This is a beautiful story! Never underestimate personal revival.

  • Katie

    Great post! Full of truth!

  • Rachel Lee

    The reason why agape love is challenging is because it involves dying to one self. Some ways I can put agape love into practice is to do the very things I dread doing such as washing dishes for my mom, spreading the gospel, praying for specific people, and saying something encouraging to someone.

  • Crystal

    Thank you for sharing!!
    Agape love is most difficult to live out, I believe, because it goes against the world view of receiving instead of giving. Our sinful nature is all about wanting, thinking about what we can benefit from love. Nonetheless, the Lord calls us to a sacrificial love, a love that is set apart, just as Christ loved us.

    God has given us many callings, such as a sister, friend, daughter, girlfriend, cousin, etc. In these God calls us to show agape love that He will be glorified! I pray that the Lord will grow in us a desire to love sacrificially and opportunities to share love to the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives.

  • Lydia Sparlin

    Thank you so much! Being single, I have been excited for the prospect of being married one day. This is has changed my perspective. I am reminded that God is to be the center of my marriage and my love. True self sacrificing love is very hard to do. It means we have to shift our focus. I want to shift my focus to the Lord

  • I’m single, in my early 20s, and have never been in a relationship before. I wish I was in one, since so many of my friends are in one, or have already gotten married…so I’m feeling a bit left out lol. But reading these posts the past couple days has really got me re thinking my views and thoughts on love, so thanks for the post, it was really good and helpful to me!

    • Esther Sentosa

      Yeah I feel you. Waiting and being patient is hard. Sometimes adjusting our hearts is really important.

  • Bright_Wanderer

    I think part of the reasons why we are having these fantasies is also because of the media’s influence. We were fed of love concepts that are worldly and selfish. So we must really dig in to God’s Word and stay focus on that truth.

  • Esther Sentosa

    Thanks for the reminder Kristen. It’s great to hear my view of love isn’t a bizzare one.

  • Angela Pereyra

    So good!! I think that self sacrificial love is so hard because we are so focused on ourselves and on what we want that we are not able to see past ourselves!

    Loved this post. I needed to hear this.

  • Sarah

    Here I am not sleeping in the middle of the night, reading an article that I needed to hear! Thank you for sharing! God’s Word spoke to my heart regarding my own selfishness in my relationship with my boyfriend.

  • Maya

    I love the quote you shared from your new book. Our deepest desires can only be fulfilled only when we are faithfully walking in a relationship with Christ. No human can ever fulfill someone else’s deepest desires. Thank you for the point that when we marry, we are a sinner marrying a sinner. I’ve heard before that marriage is a ministry. This is where agape love comes in. If we serve one another starting now (family members, friends) especially at those times when it is difficult to do so, we will be more than ready to love like Christ does in our marriages. Even more so, by God’s grace, the love of Christ will be seen in us. What an amazing thought!

  • Jewels

    I would think that agape love is more challenging to live out because it is extremely self-sacrificial. Like laying down your life for someone.
    Thank you for this.

  • Leanna

    Agape love is hard to live out because that kind of love is not a self -serving love. It’s a Christ-like love. It’s about others and their needs. That’s hard because we our sinful nature doesn’t like that. It’s easier to please yourself than it is other people.

  • rebeccavanmiddelkoop

    Agape love is challenging because is is opposite to our nature. By nature, we’re inclined to hate others and God. Its only through the Spirit that we can carry out agape love.

  • A

    It’s challenging because it is a sacrificial love instead of a selfish and worldly love. Agape love is willing to lay down your own interests for others. It’s a totally different way of thinking, and really comes in a more pure sense by God’s working in us.

  • Ruthie

    I feel like loving in an agape way is tough because the only love we see in movies and books and life is more like a selfish love, instead of a selfless love, and that’s what we go off of. Once we start using Christ as our example, that love turns into the love that Christ has and used when he was on the cross.

  • Holly

    Agape love is challenging to live out because it is so sacrificial and unconditional. We like to have our lists of expectations met and let our selfishness rule. Praying that God would teach me to love more like Him!

  • Julia Held

    Agape love is difficult because it goes against the consumer culture that we’ve been ingrained with. When we think of all Christ has done for us with gratitude it is easier to love others with agape love/

  • Joanna

    Thanks for the reminder Kristen! I’ll try to work on loving others sacrifically!

  • starzine

    Many different verses can help you out in any type of struggle that you are going through in different aspects of your life.