Friday, July 27, 2012

Love in Spite of Yourself

There’s been a teaching going around the Body of Christ for the last 20 years or so, which says that “love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision.” I’ve heard that so many times, that I’ve gotten sick of it. Can you imaging some guy saying to his wife, “I love you dear. I don’t feel anything for you, but I’ve still decided that I love you anyway.” How far do you think that would get him?

To only say that love is a choice is to remove the joy from a loving relationship. It makes that relationship sound like something we put up with, as a responsibility, because we have to. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love my wife only because it’s a responsibility; and I don’t want her to love me just because she has to either. I want to share a deep, abiding love, that transcends difficulties, problems and disagreements. A love that we can always come back to, having confidence that the other one will always be there for us.

If the only love I have for my wife is a forced love, based upon a decision I have made, then I may as well be a robot. One cannot have the type of love that brings two hearts close together, when it’s just something that’s forced.

Having said that, I will say that the act of expressing love is something that we must make a decision to do on a continuing, ongoing basis. That’s where we get in trouble. We allow our emotions to control our actions; acting with love when we feel that she “deserves it” and acting otherwise when we don’t. That’s a problem.

Here is where the decision part has to come in. We are commanded to love our wives, as Christ loved the Church (Eph 5:25). So, we must make a decision to follow that commandment, and act in love towards our wives, no matter what is going on around us or in us.

All too often our wives suffer from lack of love, not because of anything they’ve done wrong, but because of what others have done to us, or because of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We inadvertently take out the problems of life on our wives, denying them the love they so desperately need, because something else has us feeling bad. What foolishness!

I don’t know how your wedding vows read, but mine said that I promised to love my wife no matter what. Implied in that was the commitment to express love to her in a way that would meet her emotional needs, regardless of what I was going through.

Now, let me say right here, that’s not always easy. There are many times when I feel more like I need to be loved, instead of feeling like I can give love. It can be very hard to express love to another, when one isn’t feeling loved themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, just that it’s hard.

Let me ask you something… how do we normally define someone as being “manly?” Isn’t it because they do the hard things? We look at a Navy Seal and see him as very manly, because of what he does. We look at pro football players the same way. We look at some guy that scales the world’s tallest mountain and think, What a man!” Everything that impresses us about manliness is the toughness of character to do the hard things.

Okay, let’s apply that to our marriages. Wouldn’t it show that someone is a real man if they acting loving towards their wife, even though it was hard to do so? Isn’t that the same character trait as the one who climbs that mountain? It sure is in my book.

Your wife needs your love. It isn’t just some fairy tale desire she has. It’s not that she is asking for anything unreasonable. She has a need and you’re the only one who can satisfy it. So, what have you done to show your wife that you love her today?

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