And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’
Strangely, the first time the word love appears in the Bible, it is in connection with a lie. Abraham told Sarah to tell everyone that she was his sister because he feared being killed by someone wanting to take his wife from him.
We shouldn’t read too much into this being the first mention of love in the Bible but it is fitting because so often this is what love is reduced to in our lives. This is partly stereotype but the lie that teenagers tell each other to talk them into having sex is “if you love me, you’ll do this.”
Too often love is reduced to having to prove it by doing something for the other person. In fact, true love is just the opposite. If a person truly loves another, they wouldn’t ask them to do something that they feel uncomfortable with or that violates their conscience.
The irony in this passage is that Abraham wants Sarah to show her love for him by lying. If he was truly showing his love for her, he would never ask her to do such a thing or put her in a situation that she feels that she must.
It doesn’t end well for Abraham as he is caught in the lie. So it will often end ugly when we lie about love. True love is more than getting something in return from someone else.