Friday, July 15, 2011

An Examination of Love (Part 2)


Last week, I said, “Love demands commitment”, and those of you in love, know that's right! Although I’m writing about love between a husband and wife, I believe it is applicable to any relationship; be it parental love, friendship, siblings, or relatives. I’ve asked myself, “Am I capable of loving someone from the biblical framework”, and I want to believe I am. I know what it’s like to love myself above others, and as I’ve said numerous times, "I've never had a problem loving me." I never get so upset with me that I sever any concern for my life. No my friends, my love for me will never cease. But I’ve come to realize that God wants me to love others the way I love myself; unconditionally (Mark 12:13, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). I believe love is the greatest gift in life one can give. I say this because the bible reveals what God has given, and the cost of His giving. Whether I’m giving it or receiving love, I’ve discovered what a joyful experience it is. In the end, when all else has failed, love endures (1 Corinthians 13:8).

The Strength of Love: Simply put, love needs strength; it needs your strength to endure. Let the Marines look for “A Few Good Men”, love cries out and seeks the strong; an area where husbands don't alwaysman up, and where wives don't alwayswoman up”. Why do you need the strength of love? Because if you’re not strong enough to handle the challenges that occur in a marriage, things which will sabotage a marriage, then you're gonna faint, give out, and give up. A lot of people will say, “I just want to be loved”, but they're not even close to being strong enough to give love. They have the capacity to receive (or take) love, but truly lack the ability to give it. They have no strength to give love. I really believe we get the concept of love “twisted and confused”; we focus so much onme, me, me....love me, love me, love me. We become as burdensome as that plant in the movie “Little Shop of Horrors” constantly demanding, “Feed me” with the demand to “Love me”. But real love isn't about what you're getting from someone, it's about what you're giving them; and the weak cannot handle giving.

Often, we focus on the superficial, external expects of a person, instead of the identity of who they really are. A husband may think that his identity is wrapped up in the things he acquires. A wife may think her identity is wrapped up in how she appears. While this may have value in the physical attractiveness and appeal to one’s spouse, there must be strength of love in your life that gives your identity a lasting beauty that is not compromised. Impatience with a spouse not only robs a relationship, it disfigures a person in a way that distorts how they’re viewed. A husband who lacks patience with his wife is not handsome; no matter how ripped his muscles are. A wife who lacks patience with her husband is not beautiful; no matter how luscious her lips appear.

Strength illuminates the eyes in a way that cannot be glossed over with eye shadow. Strength stretches a smile that spans time and distance. I know some guys think their wife will appreciate how you take care of your body. You lift weights, run, and push your body through a regimen of exercise; hoping that she still finds you attractive. But it takes training to change your body from flab to fit. If you haven't trained your body to lift weights, you’ll find that you are incapable of lifting very much. It takes time, consistency, and commitment to gain physical strength. You have to work yourself up to handling more and more weight. Strength of love is no different; your love strength quotient will not be able to handle the kind of weights that someone who's been doing "Love Training" needs to lift. Relationships that struggle, require strength to endure those times of struggle, part of the strength comes from a mindset that builds up through an investment of time, consistency, and commitment. You've got to be mentally tough in love. A weak-minded spouse will usually find love frustrating, because they are too selfish to prioritize love. Things always seem to rise up to the top of their own selfish love totem pole, leaving love at the bottom.

How many of you really understand the kind of strength it takes to be unselfish in love?

A lot of women (not all) get it, I believe more women get it than men (at least in the beginning); but the potential is there for anyone to have and exercise strength of love. It doesn't take much effort to walk away from a relationship. In most instances, by the time you actually leave, you've mentally left some time ago. No, it really takes strength to stay with someone when things aren't going the way you perceive or want them to go. I'm not advocating you stay in a marriage, just because you have strength of love. Some marriages are truly wrong, not because of love, but because they're unhealthy. As far-fetched as this may sound, some people just DON'T WANT TO BE LOVED. They prefer to exist as unlovable, miserable, and intolerable people. You have to be wise enough to allow them the freedom they seek, by letting go of an unhealthy relationship. A true loving marriage requires the component of strength to support and sustain the love between a husband and wife.

In order to demonstrate Strength of Love, one must be mentally tough; because, most of the things that attack marriages and relationships start in our mind. Insecurity, fears, doubts, jealousy, lust, greed, selfishness, all originate in our minds. We think about something in one of these areas, and the more we think about it, the weaker we get; it’s what I like to call theSamson/Delilah Syndrome”. We slowly give in to the demands of temptation and become blinded by the selfish desires of our appetite. So if these “things” are the enemy, how do you succeed in maintaining strength of love? Like any opponent, you face it, acknowledge it, deal with it, overcome it; preparing yourself to face the next temptation. You have to prepare yourself for these battles; because your marriage (or relationship) is in a life and death struggle. Some marriages may be in ICU, barely hanging on with very little pulse. Some may be in ER, where your heart is frantically being massaged, so that it doesn't stop beating. Your love will either live on to love or your marriage will die; and there are no heroic deaths in love, unless it’s that cinema kind of love.

Up to now, I've been talking about what YOU have to do, but we all know love is a partnership, a potato-sack race; to the finish line. As they say, “It takes two to tango”, and if you're really “in love”, it's probably a good idea to be in a relationship that allows you to love, to be loved and grow stronger in love. It takes strength to open up and bare yourself to someone (no matter how long you've been married). It takes strength to admit you can be flawed, to admit that you were wrong, and acknowledge that you want to change. Yes, it takes real strength to say, “I WILL CHANGE”, not, “I want to change”, “I'd like to change”, or “I should change”, but “I WILL CHANGE”. Strength of love does not leave wiggle room for excuses, extenuating circumstances, or contingencies. Strength of love will “examine you” by holding you accountable, and verifying the results of your actions. Strength of love determines whether you honor what you say by the results of what you're doing. When you see the results, you’ll know that you made the right decision to love. You’re demonstrating to your spouse the strength you've gained from loving them.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  4. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  5. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  6. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  7. New King James Version, by Nelson Bibles, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., PO Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee, ISBN-13: 978-0840713704
  8. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  9. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  10. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6


8 comments:

Ella said...

MTJ-
It does my heart good to read such a love (God) inspired discourse on the strength required "to love."

I pray that I can be strong enough to truly love someone again, as you have described. To love them through difficult times, including when they are being difficult (because of course I’m never difficult myself). ☺

I'm glad you addressed love being a mind thing as well. Often when we talk about love we think of it as being a heart thing, and forget about the mind. Our thoughts have the power to weaken us, by how we decide to look and perceive things. Similar to two people watching an accident, their stories and how they experienced the event, will likely differ. The mind is responsible for converting experiences to something destructive that steals our love, if we allow it. It can make us feel unloved, or decide not to love, out of fear.

Fears, insecurties, etc, typically do not grab a hold of us until after the relationship newness wears off. Then the real people show through the fa├žade of the muscles or lip gloss. Then we do battle with these fears which are debilitating if we allow them to gain destructive traction. This is when we have to pull all the stops, and do as you suggest: to “Man up” or “Woman up” and try a different path from the past.

LivingSoAbundantly said...

Love training--I have never heard that expression before. It is very hard for me to love others when they are not nice. Sounds elementary, but that's really what I struggle with. When people treat me the right way, I love them. When they don't, I honestly get ticked and don't want to deal with them. That's how selfish I am. That's one of my many besetting sins. His unconditional love(whether I am having a good or bad day) amazes me and continues to compel me to love others in such a way.

My hubby and I were at our friends' house. We were talking about besetting sins. Our friend shared that as Christians, we can claim the opposite. If you struggle with pride and your name is Jane, call yourself Jane the Humble. In Christ, you are a new creature. He is continually working on you. Focusing on your sin will keep you there. Keeping your eyes on Christ and His holiness will give you the grace to be all He has made you to be. That really encouraged me. Thank you for your posts. They are challenging, which is needed. :)

Clif said...

Another good post. You continue to educate and encourage readers who come to your blog. Thank you.

Charlotte said...

There can never be too much said or written on the great subject of love. Thank you for sharing.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Pamela said...

I love the LSI: Love Scene Investigation. Strength is love is available to all of us who are committed to it. So thankful for it in my own "love story."

In Him,
Pamela

sarah said...

Great post as always...hope your Sonday is a good one

JT said...

Great post. Love is forever.

Redspect said...

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