For quite a few days I've been challenging you to "love" your husband. Quite frankly, I want to know what that looks like, more than that -- I want a list of things I should do. I will give step one and that one requires so much work that it's really the only thing I need on my list: deny yourself. Christ told us over and over again that if we are to follow Him, we must "... deny himself and take up his cross daily..." (Luke 9:23) Because my selfishness is so deep rooted, this is a daily battle.
The Bible does contain a beautiful description of love if you are interested in a more thorough "list" however, before reading it think of who possesses these qualities perfectly. It's most definitely not me, myself or I. Or you. I'm sure you can guess what verse I'm talking about.... Many of us are familiar with Paul's description of love starting in 1 Corinthians 13:4,
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or restful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends."It's wonderful to recognize the qualities of love especially because that's how GOD LOVES US! Let's PRAISE HIM for these qualities that He displays perfectly day in and day out. But once again I'm going to challenge you with a thought planted by David Clark in his book, A Marriage After God's Own Heart,
"This is the all-time classic Bible passage on love. We come across it everywhere we turn: in greeting cards, in books, in magazines, in sermons, on plaques. I think it is the world's most beautiful, moving, and familiar piece of writing on the many attributes of love. There's one catch. No one can love this way! The kind of love described in this marvelous chapter of the Bible is so far beyond the capability of the typical couple that it's not even realistic. ... By nature, human beings exhibit love that is often the exact opposite of the kind described in these verses." (p. 36-37)Here's the thing. We are sinners in need of a Savior. ALL of us. Go back to day 1 and understand the depth of your sin: no one seeks for God, no one understands, none is righteous and if Scripture couldn't make those statements clear enough it goes on to state: no, not one. Understand your need for a Savior and then thank Him for His mercy -- He gave you what you do not deserve.
Once we recognize there is nothing good in us aside from Christ, we can accept HIS help to love our husband, because those characteristics of love are God's. Clarke goes on to explain that true love comes from God, because He.Is.Love. We cannot love one another the way God loves us, because we are selfish human beings. Soooooo herein lies our problem...
- How do we display patience? With the help of the Holy Spirit.
- How do we remain kind? Pray.
- How do I keep from getting arrogant and boastful? Don't worry, the Holy Spirit will convict you of that as well.
- How do I serve selflessly? "GOD give me the strength!"
- How do I forgive? Rejoice? Endure? Ask.
- How do I give of myself day after day, even if I receive nothing in return? Bask in the hope found in faith alone in Christ alone.
That takes self control, patience, and endurance and none of those qualities you possess. Thankfully, when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior you were sealed with the Holy Spirit who is your Helper and your guarantee of your inheritance until you acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:13-14). He will help you!
And ask these things without doubting. Doubting kills your faith and doubting minimizes the effectiveness of God's work in your life.
Secondly, recognize that love is not always emotional. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it rarely ever is. Love is a choice. Love is an action. It is an intimate act where you must decide that someone else's well being is far better than your own. It starts with making up your mind that you will demonstrate the qualities of love even when you don't feel like it or even if it's never returned. That sounds exhausting. Yes, it is. So when you feel like giving in imagine Jesus Christ on the cross, who became sin on our behalf, endured the wrath of God for that sin, and He could've saved Himself from that agony - because He is God. When you remember the gospel - self flies out the window. When you preach yourself the gospel daily, every morning, before you do anything, you are much more likely to give love selflessly because you ever so mindful of the selfless love God gave you.
So, what does love look like? Well, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 (if you keep reading) that
"When I was a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." (verses 11-12)What does that mean? Paul is saying that as we grow and learn about Christ we become like Him - so when we look in a mirror - who do we see? The more you study the life of Christ through Scripture, the more you want to live like him, and as a result you are being transformed into His image. By renewing your mind this way you are keeping yourself from the things of this world, presenting yourself as a living sacrifice ready to express His worth. (Sound familiar?) Jesus is our key. With HIM as our purpose, our centerfold, our #1, we are in essence becoming like Him. That way when we meet Him face to face, we will know Him, and He will joyfully embrace us as His own!
So, what does love look like? Well, let's look at the life of Christ, what did He do to show love?
- Love seeks out opportunities to serve. (He washed His disciples feet!)
- Love is not easily angered, even when Peter denied Him three times.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs, Jesus taught His disciples that if someone wrongs you should give infinite amounts of grace, because we were forgiven for sins past, present and future. Therefore, if God forgets our sin, why should we hold grudges against others? Apply that principle to your relationship with your husband. He is not, cannot, nor will he ever be perfect, stop expecting Him to be. Forgive him, even if he didn't ask for it, even if you don't think he deserves it. And here's the thing: you cannot do this alone! You need the help of the Holy Spirit because we too are imperfect sinners in need of His grace.
That is such a short list! I left it incomplete on purpose. I started the list... you add to it...P.S. Mark Mayberry wrote a fantastic description of the characteristics of love and it could very well help you. (Everything he describes here, Jesus displayed perfectly in all aspects of His life.)
I'm so excited you're willing to join me, but I encourage you to go in order: (there is a reason behind it all...)