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Choosing to love

September 21, 2010

Chapter 3 of It Starts At Home is one of my favorite chapters in the whole book because I think it gives us a good working idea of what it means to love our spouse and stay committed to loving them.

The chapter begins with a little war strategy.  If God’s main vehicle for spreading and passing along trust in Him is the family, then the enemy’s main goal is going to be to disrupt the family.  The enemy may disrupt it in several ways–a family that is running in all directions without any clear purpose; a family that suffers divorce; a couple that does not trust each other; a couple that are merely roommates.  The glory of the gospel is that God extends hope in each of these situations.  Yes, even divorce.  God can change hearts.  That is what He does.

Where I most often see hesitation in getting on board with a biblical definition of love, in my life and the couples I counsel, is in us waiting on the spouse to get with the program.  So if we define love as a commitment to discover and then meet the needs of our spouse, we amen that statement and immediately think, “I need to show this to my wife so she can get on the ball.”  Fail.

Another roadblock to intentional love that Stroope points out is waiting on loving feelings to “inspire loving choices.”  You can’t command emotions, yet husbands are commanded to love their wives.  Christians are commanded to love their enemies.  So love is not primarily an emotion.  It is a commitment, a choice to be committed.  When we trust that truth, the emotional part generally follows.  As Stroope clearly writes, romantic feelings “are the effect, not the cause.”

I recently heard of one way to intentionally love your spouse.  Pastor Jeff Schreve spoke at our church this past Saturday night and gave this advice to married couples.  Make a list of the top ten things you like about your spouse and write them down on an index card.  Make a point each morning and evening to follow the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 of “giving thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of the Lord for you.”  So you thank God that He has built into your spouse these good qualities that you have identified, and you thank God that He has given you the ability to enjoy them.  Just one way to be intentional with your marriage.

Why is being intentional with your marriage important?  Intentionality is important because of what your marriage represents.  Your marriage represents the gospel.  We have been entrusted with this picture in marriage.  Represent well.  Not only that, but our most captive audience to this picture, and the audience that will examine it more closely than anyone, and the audience we should care most about, is our children.  One of the natural points of connection to the gospel that God has built into life is marriage.  Do your children see the gospel in the way you love your spouse?

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