“I can’t help the way I feel. I just don’t love him anymore. We’re never going to change. I can’t do this anymore.”
I hear these dramatic words slip off tongues all the time in a first session. Once someone is in this mode, it takes some convincing for them to see any hope.
As you know, many of the movies we watch, pop culture books we read, and stories we’re told portray spousal love as a heart-throbbing, wild, thrilling, and even sadistic roller coaster type of experience (and all at the same time if you’re in the drama genre).
However, it’s not the kind of love that’s found in 1 Corinthians 13. The Bible spells it out so well:
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
Should there be any doubt after reading this all-inclusive verse on love’s definition, God mentions love in the Bible around 500 times. He probably does this so there will be little doubt as to what really defines it.
God also takes painstaking efforts to let us know just how much He loves us, having allowed His Son to die on the cross for us. He gives us the definition and is the definition of love, be there no mistake. But why did have to God go to these lengths to show us how to love?
Well, for starters, since the Fall in the Garden of Eden when our race first sinned, love doesn’t always come naturally to us. And of course, Christ was the perfect sacrifice for sin, once for all. As we know it now in our fallen bodies, Christian love defies nature. When the “fight” or “flight” feelings arise in a relationship to warn us of a problem compounded by our sin, we are naturally cued to leave one another, to fight it out, or to sin in some way, whatever our own guilty pleasure.
Some of us turn to gluttony, others to alcohol, and still others to yelling, gossip, slander, or many other awful coping mechanisms we have picked up along the way.
Unfortunately, as much as our desire to stay emotionally safe is a gift from God so we can act in true emergencies of abuse or neglect — a separate but important topic — often we allow it to be activated in situations where we could be turning to God for help. “He lied to me. I’ll spend money.” “She won’t give to me sexually. I’ll view pornography.”
Sometimes these reactions are so fast that we try not to see the connection, and we act so quickly in sin that we don’t even stop to process.
I’m asking you this week to so something important.
Defy the natural idea to sin, to leave, to fight, to act harmfully toward someone made in God’s image.
Some of you may be thinking that the love mentioned in this week’s verse sounds imprisoning.
Contrarily, this true love allows you to be free from the agony of hate and the victim mentality altogether. It offers the choice to care, not only for another but for yourself. Get emotional, spiritual, and physical self care and I promise you, you will shine for Christ in amazing, thrilling, and heart-throbbing ways you never even dreamed of. Even though they may be a far cry from Hollywood’s definition.
But remember that true love isn’t always fun, even when you do love yourself well. Sometimes it looks like helping someone through their grief or pain when you’d rather be on the golf course or tasting martinis at the local happy hour.
Love sometimes means scrubbing toilets as a second job so you can afford to pay the rent as a single parent. And sometimes love means being lonely, since others at times take advantage of a kind soul.
If our treasures were all earthly, this wouldn’t make any sense, would it? But when you consider that our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and we don’t receive the full reward of them till then, you know that loving is always the answer, even when life’s circumstances would warn you to do other things.
The voice of culture tells you, “If you love her, she’ll take advantage of you.” “If you love him, he’ll take everything and leave you high and dry.” The voice of God is clear and strong, telling you to love others and yourself well, and that God Himself will fill you.
You see, those who don’t love carry a far greater burden than those who do.
They carry lust, deceit, revenge, hate, malice, selfishness, and far worse positions than those who choose to love despite the cost.
I for one, don’t want to carry this load around.
I want to trust God to meet my every need, and ask you to join me in loving your family and friends, your enemies and your neighbors with the love of God this week and always.
Love is enough.
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