When a Man Loves a Woman


Who’s the Woman God Has For You?
When I first saw Leslie forty years ago (when she was eight years old), I knew she would grow up and become my wife. I told her so the very first day I met her. Of course, I don’t recommend that everyone propose to his intended the first time they meet, but I do believe that it is possible to recognize your life partner instantly.

The well was a regular place of work. It was neither extraordinary nor supernatural. Scripture reveals that it was customary for Rachel to go to the well to water her father’s sheep.

It was in the course of her normal, daily activity that Jacob discovered Rachel. Rachel did not waste time peering into a pool of water at her reflection, daydreaming about a speculative suitor. Like Rachel, singles must diligently pursue and perfect the gifts, talents, ministry, and vocation that God has uniquely ordained for them. Second Peter 1:5 – 7 outlines the training sequence prescribed by God:

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

There are basic skills that every growing Christian should master — most notably, the ability to lead a person to Christ and encourage them to maturity. Others include teaching (2 Timothy 1:11), preaching (1 Timothy 2:7), counseling (2 Corinthians 1:4), and serving (Romans 1:1). However, genuine ministry and unearthing God’s call on our lives grows out of a walk of faith! Faith is perceiving what God wants us to accomplish and living our lives in accordance with those objectives. It is the foundation on which virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and genuine love are established.

Rachel was busy doing the work set before her, wisely “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15 – 16).

Genesis 29:10 says that when Jacob saw Rachel, he literally saw with comprehension. It was love at first sight! The Hebrew word translated “saw” in Genesis 29:10 literally means “to see with comprehension.” Of course, there are those who do not believe in love at first sight. They say you must take a second and sometimes a third look. Perhaps there is some truth in the saying, “Puppy love can lead to a dog’s life.” I can relate to Jacob, however, because my personal experience mirrors his.

Rachel’s Outward Appearance
Genesis chapter 29 introduces Rachel; it doesn’t speak of her character: “Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel” (29:17 – 18). By declaring Jacob’s love right after mentioning her appearance, the implication is Rachel’s beauty was, at the least, a minimal consideration in his declaration of love. Although beauty often attracts love, it doesn’t end there.

The Eye of the Beholder
Okay men, knowing that we are visual creatures, when a man looks at a woman, his perception is overwhelmingly influenced by the emotion he feels for the one his gaze is fixed on. A man in love sees the woman he loves as beautiful. Studies suggest that being objectively attractive is less important to a woman’s well being than feeling attractive and being treated as attractive by a loving beholder.

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However, men, we can’t forget that women need to be loved in ways that make them feel beautiful! The curious/serious gazer can uncover beauty. He doesn’t dream of conquest, but of discovery. He is like an explorer. He isn’t interested in possessing his woman or exploiting her resources. Instead he wants to learn of her and delight in her.

It was with a curious gaze of delight that Adam first beheld Eve. She was unique, unlike any of the other creatures in his world. She moved him to wonder. Women long to be looked at the way Adam looked at Eve and Jacob gazed at Rachel: with enraptured pleasure.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then a loving beholder must have the power to bring out the beauty in his beloved. In the movie The Cooler starring Alec Baldwin, the cooler told his girlfriend  — who had been disfigured on her face — not to judge her beauty by looking in the mirror but by looking into his eyes. Then she would truly know how beautiful she was. A husband’s words of affirmation and praise have the power to turn his wife into a Rachel!

Jacob Loved Rachel Unconditionally
The first time he laid eyes on her, Jacob knew Rachel was the woman he wanted to be his wife. His motivation for wanting to marry Rachel was his love for her. Genesis 29:18 says, “Jacob loved Rachel,” Genesis 29:20 says Jacob loved Rachel, and Genesis 29:30 says Jacob loved Rachel. The word used to describe Jacob’s love for Rachel is hesed in the Old Testament and is equivalent to the New Testament word agape.

Agape Love
The love Jacob had for Rachel was genuine agape. It wasn’t an “if you love me” or “because you love me” kind of love, but it was an unconditional and “in spite of ” kind of a love, the highest kind of love anyone can demonstrate. When a man really loves a woman, he does not love her for how she looks, what she can do for him, how she makes him feel, or even because she loves him with the same measure he loves her.

This superior love is given without regard to individual achievement and superior qualities. This Jacob- style of love is not a reward for these. Looks, ability to help, and feelings are not the reason agape is given. Jacob loved Rachel for the sake of loving her. He delighted in his love for her exclusively. When a man loves a woman, he just loves her.

Jacob’s expression of love toward Rachel was not unique in his day, and it is not unique today. I agree with Edith Deen who wrote in All the Women of the Bible: “Jacob’s words are unsurpassed in the whole of romantic love literature. In fact, Jacob’s service for Rachel marks him as the most devoted lover in the Bible. His love for Rachel was not a passing fancy; it would last until the end of his life.”

Adapted from When a Man Loves a Woman, by James Ford, Jr.

Copyright © by James Ford Jr., published by Moody Publishers, Used with Permission.

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