Monday, November 10, 2008

Love Dare- Day 22!!

Saturday's Followup: How do you think spending time with God daily will change your situation and perspective? How can you make Him a bigger part of your day?

Love is Faithful

"I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord." -Hosea 2:20

As Christians, love is the basis of our whole identity. Our spiritual rebirth came about because, "God so loved the world that He gave His begotten son" (John 3.16)

When asked to clarify the greatest commandments, Jesus responded, "Love the Lord God with all your heart...soul... strength...mind... and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10.27)

Our love for each other is supposed to be how people distinguish us as a disciple of Jesus Christ. (John 13.35) It is the root and ground for our existence. (Ephesians 3.17) It is meant to be expressed with passion and fervency. (I Peter 4.8) It is a quality we are to abound in more and more ( I Thes. 3.12) We are always to get better at love and become increasingly defined by it.

If love is what we were created to share, then what are we to do when our love is rejected?

The account of the prophet Hosea shows what Heaven's unconditional love looks like towards us. Against all logic and propriety, God instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea's union with Gomer produced three children, but as expected, this woman who had long made her living in immorality was not content to stay faithful to one man. She was disloyal and adulterous, rejecting him for the lust of total strangers.

Hosea had loved her, but she spurned his love. He was left to deal with a broken heart and the shame of abandonment. But God spoke to Hosea and told him to reaffirm his love for Gomer despite her unfaithfulness. To do this Hosea had to buy her off of the slave block- but Hosea paid the price for her redemption and brought her home. She had dealt treated his love with contempt, dealt treacherously with his heart, but he welcomed her back expressing to her an unconditional love.

What a picture of God's love for us. He showers His on us without measure, though in return we've often acted shamefully and treated His love as an intrusion- as if it's keeping us from what we really want. We've rejected Him in many ways, even after receiving His gift of eternal salvation, and yet He still loves us. He still remains faithful. In Him we have the model of what rejected love does. It stays faithful.

Jesus called us to this kind of love in the passage known as the sermon on the mount. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6.27-28)

From the vantage point of the wedding alter, you would have never imagined that the person you married would become someone you'd need to love as an act of total sacrifice. And yet far too often in marriage, the relationship dwindles down to just that- even to the point of betrayal, or sadly, unfaithfulness.

For many, this is the beginning of the end. Some respond by rapidly moving toward divorce. Others, more protective of their reputation than their happiness, decide to keep the charade going- but they have no intention of liking it, much less loving one another again.

This however, is not the model for a follower of Christ. If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted. And for your love to be like that, it must be His to begin with.

You can give undeserved love to your spouse because He gave undeserved love to you- repeatedly- enduringly. Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least.

Ask Him to fill you with the kind of love only He can provide, then purpose to give it to your mate in a way that reflects your gratefulness to God for loving you. That's the beauty of redeeming love. That's the power of faithfulness.

Today's Dare

Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today, "I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."


Denise said...

Spending more time with God will only make my life better and better.

Mari said...

Spending more time with God is good for every aspect of life. I have to make more of an effort to do that consistently.

Nancy said...

I have mentioned the exact same thing on my blog today. spending time with God takes effort but is so rewarding, not just for self but others around us, including our spouses. I also have to work on this.

Chelle' said...

I love this dare. Because it aligns directly with one of my biggest beliefs. EVERYTHING IS A CHOICE. Love is not excluded.

Too often, I elevate myself above my spouse. I find myself crying the, "Why should I have to continue to love selflessly when I feel like he... " or "He isn't... so why should I..."

The truth is- it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing or not doing. What does matter is what I am doing. And regardless of my love ever being received, rejected, or trampled upon... I am still called, in Christ, to love as He loves in this covenant of marriage.

Please let me preface- my husband is not trampling upon and or rejecting my attempts to love as Christ loves me. But even if he were- to honor God, I would still need to choose to love.

Talk with anyone in the throws of a stagnant or declining marriage- odds are you'll hear some selfishness creep out. Things they want that are not being met... excuses as to why they are exempt from selfless Godly love in their relationship... I know because I've regurgitated every one liner freeing me from accountability in my marital actions.

The truth is however, I deserved NOTHING and yet God still sent His son to give me EVERYTHING. And if Christ could endure death on a cross, humility before authority, pain, sorrow, rejection and STILL CHOOSE TO LOVE UNTO DEATH... what excuse could I possibly offer as to why I can't love another in whom I'm in covenant relationship with...

I pray we are all choosing selfless, Godly, love today. More than benefitting marriage... we are HONORING God.

The Patterson 5 said...

When Mr P and I were engaged to be married my wise mom told me about how love is a choice and even when I do not feel love towards my husband I must choose it as God chooses to love us even in our sin and rejection of Him.

As a unworldly 22 yr old I thought oh, I will never feel unloving towards, Chuck.

Oh I am giggling now as she knew harder days were to come for us.

I am thankful for her councel and for my parents example of choosing love-

I hope we, Mr P and I, can also pass down the importance of a covenant marriage to our kids that it's unlike contracts that can be broken when someone does not hold up their end of the bargin- a covenant is bonding btwn us and God.

I like what you wrote..."The truth is- it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing or not doing. What does matter is what I am doing. And regardless of my love ever being received, rejected, or trampled upon... I am still called, in Christ, to love as He loves in this covenant of marriage."

thanks for your encouraging words!

sailorcross said...

Day 21 is posted and I'm about to do Day 22. As I'm reading the comments here, I'm seeing great progress--not only in myself, but in everyone participating--realizing that love is selfless, it is a choice that we must make.

Is this hard to do? Yes, it is, especially when we feel that love is not being returned.