She said, "How can you say 'I love you' when you won't even trust me? Three times now you've toyed with me, like a cat with a mouse, refusing to tell me the secret of your great strength." She kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up—he couldn't take another minute of it. He spilled it. Judges 16:15-16 (MSG)
The use of 'love' as a means to selfish ends is as old as mankind. Looking back, I can recall being on both ends of this manipulative tactic. I can't point my finger without three fingers pointing back at me. Still, I like to think I've learned my lesson.
I am always wary of phrases that begin: "If you love me, you will…?" or "How can you say you love me when you…?" For the true object of the question is usually the person asking, and the motivation is typically self-centered.
As I read the account of Samson and Delilah it struck me that, while they spoke of 'loving' each other, I found nothing in the text that illustrated love as God's message describes it:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Cor 13:4-7
Red flags always go up whenever I hear a person using love as a bargaining chip.