Devotion #40

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

Paul Tripp describes love as “a willing sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.” This is the kind of love that binds our marriages together in harmony.

When we demonstrate love in our marriage we willingly choose to sacrifice our needs for the sake of our spouses. What are those things that irritate your spouse, that cause them to question you, that challenge their trust in you? Those are the things we are called to sacrifice; those are the things we need to lay down. The kind of love that God calls us to in marriage puts the other person’s rights before our own. We lay down what we think we deserve and we pick up what they need.

What’s the most loving thing you can do for your spouse today? Think about it. What is it that THEY would consider to be the most loving thing for you to do? What is it that they want most from you? Interestingly, most husbands want their wives to respect them—that’s when they feel valued. When a husband knows that his wife believes in him, when he knows that she values his opinion and his leadership in the home, when he knows that she appreciates how hard he works to provide for the family, he feels loved. On the other hand, most wives want to be cherished by their husbands—that’s when they feel valued. When a wife is made to feel like the greatest priority in her husband’s life, greater than his work or his hobbies, when she is made to feel like the most beautiful woman he has ever laid his eyes on, when she is appreciated for the beautiful home and family she works so hard to create, she feels loved. So I ask again, what’s the most loving thing you can do for your spouse today?

Here’s the problem with answering that question—many of you read the previous paragraph and thought: yes! If only my spouse recognized that about me or made me feel that way, then I would have a good marriage. That right there is our biggest problem—we’re constantly looking at what our spouse should be doing for us, how our spouse needs to change. We listen to a message on marriage, and we think to ourselves: I hope he’s listening! Or my wife really needs to hear this! Instead of focusing on what they don’t deserve, we focus on what we think we deserve.

The kind of sacrificial love that God calls us to in marriage, the kind of love He sent his Son to die for, the kind of love that makes it to the finish line is not the kind of love that thinks about what I deserve in the marriage, it thinks only about how to make to make my spouse feel loved. Biblical love does not consider what the other person deserves, and it doesn’t demand reciprocation. Biblical love doesn’t keep a scorecard of his wrongs and my rights. Biblical love isn’t 50/50. It’s 100% about meeting the needs of the other person. All the time, in all circumstances. I love you before me, every single day.

Here’s the real hard part you need to choke down if your desire is to have a good marriage: all this means your wife doesn’t need to treat you with respect for you to have a good marriage, or your husband doesn’t need to cherish you for you to have a good marriage. If you’re truly making it all about them, then you’re not waiting for them to give you anything. Even when you go out of your way to give them what they don’t deserve, you need to love without any expectation of reciprocation.

The only thing you do need in order to have a good marriage is grace. You know you are married to a less than perfect person. If you withhold your love every time your spouse messes up or when they don’t deserve it, you will spend a whole lot of your marriage not loving your spouse. It is precisely when you don’t deserve it that love does its deepest work. God chose to love us even while we were his enemies. He moved toward us and rescued us when we were at our worst. That’s grace. Grace moves toward you when you mess up. Grace is how we demonstrate biblical love in our marriages. We are to move toward our spouses when they mess up and look for ways we can demonstrate love to them.

So when we think about what is the most loving thing we can do for our spouses today, we think about how we can cover their weaknesses with love. We think about where our grace needs to move toward them. We choose to sacrifice our demands and give them what they don’t deserve, without any expectation of reciprocation.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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