Monday, July 20, 2009

What is love?

No, seriously, play along with the gag. What is it?

A warm, fuzzy feeling? A desire for someone? A fool's paradise? A pipe dream?

If we define love as God does, it is putting the best interests of the other ahead of the best interests of the self.

Easy to say, hard to do. We are selfish creatures, apart from God changing us and making it possible for us to be like Him.

We were created in His image, but the image is tarnished by sin. Sin is putting anything ahead of the agenda of God, and His agenda is to populate the universe with those created in His image and behaving like it.

So, how does this play out in marriage? The $64,000 question. It takes a lifetime to answer it, and most people don't give it the lifetime. They get married, they don't get their own needs met, they give up and try to find someone else. Tragedy.

The goal in marriage should be to meet the needs of the other, with God's help. Then trust that He will meet your needs, sometimes through your spouse, sometimes not. The trust has to remain in the times that your spouse does not come through.

What does this look like in marriage?

I can tell you what it does not look like. It does not look like a husband coming home, slumping down to watch tv, eat, ignore the family, then demand attention at bedtime.

It does not look like a wife ignoring him and the kids because she wants "me" time all the time.

It looks like sharing the burdens. All of them. Every day.

It looks like honor. Believing and acting as if the other is the most important person in your life, besides God.

It looks like self-control and patience when your spouse fails. Each of you will fail. It will hurt. Love says, I will be patient.

It looks like forgiveness. It looks like repentance. Turning away from the things that hurt each other, forgiving when it happens, working together.

It looks like kindness.

It looks like speaking your spouse's love language, even when, no especially when, it is not yours.

It looks hard. You know what? It is hard. It can't be done. Not in our own strength. That's why it also looks like two people leaning on the Lord of the Universe to make it possible.

Look at how He expressed that love. Every moment of the life of Messiah Jesus was an expression of that love. Think of it. From the moment of conception to the moment of death He put our needs above His own. He gave up parts of His "Godness" and eternally changed His unchangeable nature. It culminated in a horrible death that was a punishment beyond our ability to imagine. Yet, the Scripture says both that Messiah Jesus did it for the joy set before Him and it pleased the Father to do it. Not because of masochism, but to put the needs of the other, namely us, ahead of His own perfect Self.

Amazing. And also amazing that He can give us the ability to do these things for others.

When we put the needs of others ahead of the needs of self, we are showing God's love to others in a way they can understand. We become the hands of the Messiah, doing His will. Not to get in good with Him, but because He loved us first, and we want to take that love and give it to minister to the needs of others. To join in His joyful work, even though we do it imperfectly and incompletely.

When we do this in marriage, we show a picture of God to the world. A good picture, not the foolish picture most people paint when they think of Him.

Marriage God's way is hard. It is worth it.

Today is:

Binding of the Wreaths

Chess Day (I can't play that game. I know how each piece moves, but I can't plan ahead and execute the plan and be thinking ahead of what the other guy is planning.)

Moon Day (The Eagle has landed.)

National Get Out of the Doghouse Day

National Hug Your Kid Day (If you need to be told to do that, we need to talk.)

National Lollipop Day (Warning, stupid joke time: Did you hear about the fight at the candy store? Two suckers got licked.)

St. Elijah's Day

Ugly Truck Day (Must be a "guy" thing.)

Birthdays Today:

Billy Mays, 1958 (May he rest in peace.)
Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919
Alexander the Great, BC356

Today in History

The Riot Act takes effect in Great Britain, 1712
Colombia declares its independence from Spain, 1810
Tax Stamps are first used on cigarettes, 1868 (The birth of a cash cow.)
The surrender of Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief, 1881
Final home run for Hank Aaron, #755, off the Angels'
Jerry Augustine, 1976

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