February is the month for love, so let’s talk about love. What is love?
Love is defined by Webster as strong affection and warm attachment to someone or something. It means to cherish, to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness for, and is also defined as unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for another.
Well, I have to say that from the moment I married Rick, I have always felt loved. I have always felt cherished by him. He has a tenderness for me that is filled with unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for me. I have no doubt in my mind that he is fully devoted to me and would protect me with his very life.
But, I also have no doubt in my mind, that his love for me is undeserved. Why does he love me like that? Is it because I’m so wonderful, smart, pretty? No, has nothing to do with it.
What I want to get across here is that love, true love, is unconditional, and Jesus Christ is the model for that kind of love.
There is nothing we can say or do that could change what is true and unconditional. Now, let’s go back to the dictionary.
unconditional: not limited in any way and not subject to conditions.
So, unconditional love doesn’t really depend on conditions, does it?
No, it doesn’t.
In a marriage, does that mean I could treat my husband with disrespect and him still love me? Does it mean I could spit in his face and him still love me? Does it mean I could have an affair and him still love me?
Yes, yes it does. I could do all those things and if Rick really loved me with an unconditional love, he would still love me. Because why? His love would be unconditional.
Now, that’s a revelation.
Think about Christ on the cross, they did spit in his face, and what did he do? He prayed for them. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And how many times do we go whoring around after other gods, like money, and Him forgive us. I’ve got news for you: there is nothing unforgivable in God’s eyes except for the sin of unbelief. If God, who is perfect, can forgive, then you, who are sinful, can forgive.
What do you need to forgive today?
Now, let’s go back, if my husband loves me with an unconditional love, does that mean I can do all those things I mentioned, spit in his face, disrespect him, cheat on him?
No, not if I love him with an unconditional love, too. If I love Rick with that same unconditional love…I would have strong affection, warm attachment, and unselfish (key word here), loyal, and benevolent concern for him as well. I would cherish him. I would feel passion, devotion, and tenderness for him.
And then, we’d be talking. If he loves me with an unconditional love, and I love him with an unconditional love… we’ve really got something, don’t we?
What would that look like? A marriage filled with that kind of love, the kind that is not self-serving, the kind that thinks about the other person first?
If I’m thinking about him and he’s thinking about me, and I’m putting his needs over my own, and he’s putting my needs over his. My gosh, can you imagine?
What would Rick want today? Let’s see… sex in the morning, meatloaf, cornbread, and fried okra for lunch, and my undivided attention at night? OK
What would Sherri want today? Well, answers to all my questions, in the morning, heaping praise for that home cooked meal at lunch, and a back rub at night… You got it, coming right up.
Wouldn’t that be awesome? A husband who wants to serve his wife, and a wife who wants to serve her husband.
Listen, we’ve got to stop thinking the way the world thinks.
Do you hear this kind of talk?
“Well, I just don’t love him anymore.”
“Yeah, I’ve fallen out of love.”
How juvenile and silly is that?
“I just don’t love her anymore.”
“She’s not meeting my needs.”
“He’s not the man I married.”
How selfish can you be? You know what I say to that? Grow up!
It’s not about you. It’s all about God. Love is a choice. It’s not a feeling. It’s a commitment. When we stop thinking the way the world things, and start thinking with the mind of Christ, then, only then, will we get it.
Christ gives us the model on how to love, and what did he do? He humbled himself. He came from heaven to earth to love, to serve, and to die. He loved us so much that he would die for us, not because we were so wonderful and good. No, He died for us when? While we were still sinners. He loved us with an unconditional love.
And then He said, “All you who believe, come.” “Come to me, all you who are weary, cast your cares on me, because I care for you. Enter by the narrow gate.” He’s the gate, people. Christ is the narrow way. He’s the only way. He said, “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.” He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
I believe that if you’re not Christian, you don’t know what love is. If you don’t know Christ in a personal and real way, you don’t love your wife. You don’t love your husband. You can’t. It’s not in you to do so.
When we receive Christ as our Savior, only then do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with the Holy Spirit comes it’s fruit. And the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Who’s got a problem with self-control? Give it to God. Give it all to Him. If you’ve got problems in your marriage, Christ is the answer. Forgiveness is the answer. Healing is the answer. Don’t run from your problems. Run to Christ, and lay them at His feet.
If you’re just starting out in your marriage, grab hold of Christ and don’t let go.
When Rick and I were about to get married fourteen years ago next Wednesday, we had this sweet, precious pastor, Rick Cagle, tell us the truth. He said, “If you don’t have a church home, get one.”
He said, “Marriage is hard, and it’s gonna take God to make it work. If you don’t have God in your marriage, it will fail,” and then he drew us a diagram. Seriously. He drew a triangle with Rick and me as the bottom two points and Christ at the top, and he said, “The closer you each grow to God, the closer you will grow to each other.”
That has proven to be so true in our lives. Rick Cagle was right. We did need God in our marriage. We still need God in our marriage. And the closer we grow to God, the closer we grow to each other.
We all need God. We need Christ in our hearts and God as our head in order to be able to do anything well. When we’re in anything for ourselves, whether it’s a marriage, a job, whatever, it won’t work. We need to do everything for the glory of God. Everything. We can’t just give Christ our sins; we’ve got to give Him our lives. We are to live our lives as a living sacrifice to Christ.
The best thing you could ever do for your marriage is to get involved in a strong, healthy relationship with God. All other relationships will fall into place if that relationship is right, and that includes marriage, especially marriage.
When you’ve got it right with God, then you can get it right with your spouse. And when you have a strong, healthy marriage, you have happy, stable kids who feel secure and safe in your home. When your home is in order, then, only then, does the bible say you can go out and minister to others.
So, you see, the whole world depends on healthy families.
The body of Christ, the hands and the feet and the mouth of God here in this world, needs each of its parts in order to work properly.
When I needed my friends and sisters in Christ to mourn with me, to sit with me, and to cry with me through the hardest part of my grief, they were there. They were able to think about me and pray for me, because their own lives were in order. If they had not been, my friends wouldn’t have had time for me. They would have been more concerned with their own problems, but they weren’t. They were ready with great ideas for me and my family in our time of need, because their family life was in order.
Some of you may know we baptized our six-year-old at the time, Brody, in our pool a few months after Bronner went to heaven. It was such a holy day unto the Lord, a sort of taking back. We used the bible verse, “Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good” on the invitations, and that’s what we did that day. We overcame evil with good, and we continue to overcome evil with good. That’s our purpose.
The day of the baptism, God revealed Himself to me in truly miraculous fashion, but what I want to point out to you is that it had been a friend’s suggestion that we have a baptism in our pool.
That friend along with a whole group ladies had come to our house and prayed through every room and over the pool and our whole property for any darkness of death to be lifted, and it was. But while we were praying that day over the pool, my friend, Julie, almost jumped in herself, clothes and all, to break that darkness, but I wouldn’t let her. I did, however, take her suggestion to have a baptism there in that place, and it became one of the most beautiful days our family has ever had with the Lord.
So, that’s what healthy marriages can do, they can minister to others, they can be used of God, and they can be found worthy of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Choose to love. Choose the husband or wife of your youth. Forgive and serve, and as you grow closer to Christ, watch yourself grow closer to your spouse. Happy February, the month for love, and God bless.