As we prepare daily for Christmas, we are looking at a few weekly themes. Last week’s was hope. This week’s is Love.
Love is an easy thing to talk about, but it’s something else to live out. We think of love as a feeling…an emotion. We talk about love as if it comes and goes, lives and dies, thrives and fails. But that is NOT the way God defines love.
[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)
Love never gives up. Love never fails.
Questions for reflection:
- How is this definition of love different from what you’ve seen in your life?
- How would you define love in your own words?
- Does love have limits? If so, what are they?
- Is it appropriate for love to have boundaries? What would that look like?
- Is it possible for love to exist and then to die?
For the first 15 years of my marriage, I was SO messed up. I didn’t know how to be a good husband. But I could list several things to justify myself:
- I DIDN’T physically abuse my wife
- I DID go to work every day
- I DID support my family
- I DIDN’T cheat
But the absence of an affair and the paying of the bills does not make a Loving husband. And the truth is, I didn’t treat her well. I had mostly unhealthy models for marriage and family when I was growing up. They were all I knew, so I just kept the tradition going. I thought I loved her because I felt like I loved her. But love is a decision. It’s an action. It’s a choice.
So where’s the real love in this story? Simple put: Susan had it. She loved me even when I didn’t deserve it (which is part of the definition of love). She loved me when she didn’t feel it (which is part of the definition of love). She loved me when she didn’t want to (which is part…well…you get the point). Susan CHOSE to treat me with love, regardless of how I treated her. That’s what love is. A Choice. An Action.
We go through a self-justifying checklist (like the bullets above) as a way of saying, “Well, I wasn’t THAT bad.” But love doesn’t compare itself with the least common denominator. Love takes the high road. Love turns the other cheek. It goes the extra mile. Susan was determined to love me even when I wasn’t loveable, and eventually I took a hard look at myself and realized I needed help.
Since we have all week to talk about love, let’s just hang out here today with a few closing questions for married couples:
- How well do you feel you live out love towards your spouse? Is love more of a feeling or is it an action for you in your marriage?
- If you REALLY want to know the answer to the previous question, ask your spouse to answer it for you. Compare your answer with theirs and talk about it (this means not being defensive, but really listening!)
- What are some ways that you could more fully live into the true meaning of love in your marriage?
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of 1 Cor 13 and honestly compare how you relate to your spouse with the definition of love in that chapter.
Pray for your love to increase and for you to act even more loving towards your spouse this coming week and into the future. Invite your spouse to pray with you.