“It came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (Genesis 29:10).

Is love at first sight for real? Some people say they “just knew” when they first met their future husband or wife. According to a Singles in America survey of more than 5,000 singles, 41 percent of men and 29 percent of women said they have experienced love at first sight. But is it just momentary chemistry or something more enduring?

First impressions certainly can help launch a relationship, but a marriage cannot be built on such a superficial manner. We can project a “personality halo” on the other person, assuming that with his or her attractiveness come wisdom and other positive qualities. It might end up as one woman said to a man about their first meeting, “Of course I liked you—until you opened your mouth.”

When Jacob first met Rachel by a well near Haran, many say it was love at first sight. After all, the Bible says, “Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept” (Genesis 29:11). This was not a romantic kiss, but a familial greeting. He probably had an initial attraction for the youngest daughter of Laban, as a month later he asked for her hand in marriage.

So, did they immediately tie the knot? Far from it. Jacob first proved himself to his prospective father-in-law: “Now Jacob loved Rachel; so, he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter” (verse 18). When the dust of this story finally settled, he served Laban for 14 years before marrying her.

Love at first sight is elegant but fragile. If a relationship stands only on a first attraction and is not tested and tried, it has a good chance of crashing. First Corinthians 13 defines true love with more than physical attraction. Lasting love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). That’s the kind of love Jacob had for Rachel.

Lord, fill me with Your unselfish love, a love that is more than a sounding brass or clanging cymbal.

For Further Study: Gen. 29:1–18; Romans 8:35–39; 1 Corinthians 13

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