Saturday, February 6, 2010

Real Love


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.”

What?

“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.

16 comments:

  1. Happy February to you too Sherri! Thank you for your words, they are taken to heart. Blessings on you and yours!!!

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  2. You are such a wonderful writer and I thank you for sharing your thoughts on marriage which is often overlooked today. Happy February to you and yours!

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  3. Wonderful words Sherri! If everyone went into marriage thinking this way, there would be no need for divorce. When I was engaged at a very young 18 years old, my mother came to me and said "You do realize that once you are married, it's forever in the eyes of God?". I said "YES MA'AM!" And here it is, 21 years later, and I am still with that wonderful man!

    It has been HARD, but when you go into a marriage KNOWING that divorce is not an "easy way out", it really makes you rethink priorities. We lost two children within a month of each other, and the years following that were the most excruciating, painful, sorrowful years of our lives. There were times that we both just wanted to leave, but GOD kept us together.

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  4. This is so true and just what I needed to be reminded of! It has touched me greatly!! Thanks so much for this.

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  5. What a great idea about a baptistism in the pool! I love your honesty. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your family life and love of the LORD.

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  6. What a gifted writer! God bless you and your family.

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  7. Sherri, Thank you for speaking the truth in love. You are being used by God in a mighty way and I thank Him for it. Thank you for being a willing vessel. May God continue to bless all of you.

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  8. As a guy who is still single at 50 I wish I could meet someone that shares this view of marriage and commitment. I never envisioned myself being alone this late in life. The funny thing about my situation is that my friends seem to think I am worthy of having a woman like this in my life, so my question to myself is "if I am deserving why then do I have not". If I am truly intelligent, articulate, charming,loyal,funny,faithful,etc. then what am I lacking? I am and have always been analytical, I pay close attention to how I am treated. I do not accept being lied to, disrespected or being used or abused either in body or spirit. I require total honesty from everyone as I expect them to require the same of me. I hope this does'nt sound egocentric or narrisistic because nothing could be farther from the truth. I recognize my faults and short comings in vivid detail and constantly work to diminish them. Just to make a rather ironic point, I have introduced 5 couples that married one another, have been in 7 weddings, and yet none of them were mine. Funny huh? Well, I have rambled enuff and if you are still reading I want to thank you for your indulgence and ask that if you feel moved to impart some advice to me, please feel free to do so. Thanks again and may you be blessed often.

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  9. Great post , Sherri. I LOVE how you keep it real. No sugar coating. Yes ma'am.

    You are right...love is not a feeling! It is actively intentional and lots of times actively hard. Marriages are a key target of the enemy. Why? Because two people in a godly marriage with Christ as their Head are a huge threat to him. We MUST stay on guard...

    Thank you for this reminder of WHO life is about....and of WHAT He wants us to do!

    Blessings to your sweet family....

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  10. I've been a Rick and Bubba fan for ages, but they are just gonna have to move on now that I've found your blog! (Okay, so I did find it thru their twitter message, so we'll give 'em that. *grin*) But seriously, Sheri, what a wonderful God redeeming day you described in "taking back" ground thru Brody's baptism. I brought y'all to the throne many times during those early days after Bronner went to see Jesus. How sweet our Father is and how much of Him I see in your family. Thank you for the visual of our redeeming God! I'll be back by here often. And next time, I'll try not to write a book, okay?

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  11. How sweet are your words and even sweeter the words of our Lord. 2 Cor.1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
    May the Lord continue to use your family to show his love to all people.

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  12. I am so excited that you have a blog! I can't wait to hear all that you are learning.

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  13. You are such a blessing! Thank you!

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  14. Wonderful post..true Love for anything can only come through first experiencing the love of our Savior!! I've heard the triangle analogy many times, and I can't think of a more accurate example to share with couples....again, all of your words are so spot on...thanks for the reminders! :)

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