To Love Anyway

I read this today and thought it was wonderful. It is right in alignment with my favorite book of all time The Excellent Wife. This is one of my biggest challenges in marriage… loving Adam when I don’t feel like it. Making a choice to love him and show him love when he’s hurt me or I’m disappointed or my selfish and prideful needs aren’t being met or we’ve been fighting and I don’t feel like it’s been resolved… the list can go on and on. I am very much a conditional love-shower and this is something God has been highlighting as an area to work on with Him and His grace as He has shown me how I’ve begun to do this with Amelia based on her obedience. Martha Peace in the above book talked a lot about the most important thing for us as wives to do is to be obedient to what God commands us to do, want to know what God commands us to do in our marriage? Just read your Bible. “Forgive each other” (Ephesians 4:32), “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48), “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26), “Show respect to your husband always” (Ephesians 5:22-23), “Consider others better than yourself” (Philippians 2:3-4), etc., etc. The Bible is filled to the brim with character building commands and since we know God loves us and we know His commands are not a burden (1 John 5:3) because they will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), then we should delight in obeying ALL of His commands (Psalm 119:47) regardless of how our spouse is treating us.

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Anyway Love

To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

 
Note: Names have been changed.

On Valentine’s Day, Meg* went all out, giving her husband, Peter,* his favorite candy and tickets to a hockey game. Later that night, she wrapped herself in a special outfit purchased just for the occasion.

Peter got her a card.

At the grocery store.

That he purchased on the way home from work.

He didn’t add anything to it, either. He just signed it, “Peter.”

A couple of days later, Meg tried to explain that she felt a little taken for granted. Apparently, Peter misunderstood her intent because two months later, when they celebrated their anniversary, Peter didn’t get Meg anything.

“How could you not get me anything for our anniversary?” she asked Peter the next day. “Especially after our conversation about Valentine’s Day.”

“Well, I thought about getting you something, but it didn’t work out,” he replied. “And then I knew not to get you a card because you said you didn’t like that last time.”

“It’s not that I didn’t like the card. It’s that the card alone seemed a little sparse. But even that is better than nothing …”

Several months later, Meg had a birthday. This time, Peter got her a present – a kitchen tool set. Several weeks before, Meg had asked to borrow Peter’s tape measure and screwdriver. Peter figured that Meg should have her own small set of kitchen tools so she didn’t have to borrow his.

Meg recounted all this and then explained how she had tried to get her husband to read several how-to books on loving your spouse. He would read the first few pages, lose interest and never pick the book up again.

“I’ve realized this is never going to change,” she confessed. “But I love him anyway.”

Because …

That last statement of Meg’s, “but I love him anyway,” is one of the most profound theological statements on marriage I’ve ever heard. Most of us base love on because, not on anyway. I love you because you’re good to me. I love you because you’re kind, because you’re considerate, because you keep the romance alive.

But in Luke 6:32-36, Jesus says we shouldn’t love because. We should love anyway. If we love someone because that person is good to us, or gives back to us, or is kind to us, we’re acting no better than anyone else. In essence, Jesus is saying you don’t need the Holy Spirit to love a man who remembers every anniversary – not just the anniversary of your marriage, but the anniversary of your first date and your first kiss. Any woman could love a man like that. Or if you love a wife who lavishes you with sports gifts, who goes out of her way to make you comfortable when you get home from work and who wants sex anytime you do – well, you’re doing what any man would do. There’s no special credit in that!

But if you love a spouse who disappoints you, who can be a little self-absorbed – now you’re loving anyway. In doing that, you’re following the model of the heavenly Father, who loves the ungrateful and the wicked.

… Or Anyway

Will you love only because? Or are you willing to love anyway? Will you love a man or woman who doesn’t appreciate your sacrifice? Will you love a husband or wife who takes you for granted? Will you love a spouse who isn’t nearly as kind to you as you are to him or her?

Just about every faithless marriage is based on because love. Christians are called to anyway love. That’s what makes us different. That’s what gives glory to God. That’s what helps us appreciate God’s love for us, because God loves us anyway. He gives and gives and gives – and we take Him for granted. He is eager to meet with us, and we get too busy to notice Him. He is good to us, and we accuse Him mercilessly when something doesn’t go just the way we planned it.

But God loves us anyway. To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

That’s love, the way God intended it.

This article first appeared in the Couples Edition of the January, 2007 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007, Gary Thomas. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
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