QUESTION OF THE WEEK
How am I supposed to love my husband when I am so low on his priority list? He is killing my love. The feelings are gone and I’m wondering how long I can last. Help.
VERSE FOR THE WEEK
When asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Old Testament Law?” Jesus replied: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-39
Wow! Cutting to the chase, Jesus goes right to the heart of relationships and explains our most challenging goal in life… learning to love well.
ANSWER TO SHELIA
In answer to Shelia’s question, let’s ask a few questions that relate. What is love anyway? How does it work? Our feelings are so fickle and our emotions vary like the ocean tides. What is God asking us to do? How do we love Him (and others) when my head is spinning, my feelings are hurt and my heart feels emotionally unsteady?
The answers lie in a more clear understanding of the word “love”. The New Testament writers wrote in Koine Greek, which was the universal trade language of the day. Just as Eskimos have many words for snow in all its states and forms (icy, powdery, packed, and loose), the Greeks had many words to describe different facets of love. In the verse above, the word “love” in Greek is “agape” which is a love of action: a gesture or behavior that is in the best interest of the person to whom it is given. An act of kindness, a word of praise, a quiet hug to a person in distress, a smile of acceptance, a cup of coffee delivered to a spouse who was crabby toward me a few minutes ago.
The commandment to love does not require warm feelings per se, in order for us to honor Christ’s commands, just a willingness to act Christ-like toward another when they most need it and we, frankly, don’t want to.
There are also “feeling” words to describe love in the Greek language. Warm feelings are contained within the Greek words “Phile” which describes brotherly, friendship, love. This word denotes liking and loving and the city of Philadelphia, (the city of brotherly love) gets its name from the Greek word “Phile”. Even stronger emotions are a part of the Greek word “Eros” or erotic sexual love in which heart felt passions are prevailing. While we are all familiar with these feelings and enjoy them when they are present, they wax and wane throughout the course of a day, week or season of marriage. Shelia, we imagine you are not feeling much ‘Phile’ (liking) or “Eros” (passion) in your marriage at the moment.
So what do we do when the feelings aren’t there? We choose “agape love” as a universal fall back position. Shelia, it’s time to choose to love your husband with Agape love. Like Shelia, we can CHOOSE to act kindly toward our spouse, with their best interests at heart, in the middle of a disagreement or conflict or difficult season. It doesn’t mean we don’t share our honest feelings of hurt or disappointment, but Agape love acknowledges the personhood of another and acts respectfully, even in times of conflict and discontent.
You can show respect no matter how you feel about your wife, children, friends, or business associates. Gestures of kindness and respect in the middle of a difficult season maintain a sense of trust and security, which help warm feelings of love return. If we inflict hostility and unkindness toward a person when we are hurt and angry, a seed of distrust is sown and eventually love will grow even colder.
Remember Christ’s Example
Shelia, it will also help to meditate on how Christ loves us. How did God love (agape) the world? Christmas is a celebration of the second person of the eternal Trinity’s birth as a human being, who would some thirty years later deliberately die on a cross as my substitute to pay for my sins. Why? Because, God is holy and just and the price for sin is death and separation from God. Jesus chose to pay the price and his choice to love certainly did not feel good, but the decision to love was for our wellbeing and in our best interest. Shelia, we can all be encouraged by remembering how God loves us. He chose to love even when it was painful. Make a decision to love you husband the same way.
How do I love God?
We love God by recognizing the significance of His sacrifice and accepting His free gift of freedom from sin and guilt by believing and embracing the work of the Jesus on the cross. When we do, we become His child, and we are pronounced “righteous” and given the gift of eternal life. Wow! What a gift. What an act of love.
Merry Christmas to you,
Milan and Kay