Agape Love on Valentines

According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers will spend just over $18 billion on valentines. This includes jewelry, flowers, cards and clothes. 

Although there is nothing wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special gift for the special person in your life, there’s no doubt that as a society we can get caught up in the consumeristic aspect of the day. But if Valentine’s Day is truly about love, shouldn’t we focus on what kind of love should reflect this day? Or better put- shouldn’t this day reflect an overflow of the love that has been shared over the past year?  

This day should be a reflection of a love that is selfless, giving, serving and patient. The ancient Greeks called this love- Agape love. This is the love that God has for His children. It’s an unconditional, no holds barred love. It’s the kind of love that is should grow when two become “won.” 

 This love is sacrificial, forgiving, patient and kind. It’s the kind of love that I strive to show my wife on a daily basis, though I may fail. It’s the kind of love we read about in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s the kind of love that Jesus has for us.
So today, let’s celebrate the love that we were shown on the cross. Let’s celebrate Agape love.  

Advertisements

Forgetting What’s Behind-Staining Ahead 

If I haven’t made anything clear in my posts, I hope I have been clear about the fact that marriage isn’t easy. Any relationship takes work. In a marriage relationship, where two people are together so much, this is especially true.  
The thing about the perfect institution of marriage is that two very imperfect people join to be “won.” Imperfect people have a past, they have baggage, and they continue to stumble. I know that both Lisa and I fall very short of perfection and I’m sure there are times she would like nothing better dented hit me over the head with a frying pan. 

But in order for fellowship with God to continue, our earthly relationships also have to be in order. This is especially true in the marital relationship. Although not a text about marriage, in Philippians 3:13-14, Paul writes about knowing that he has not attained perfection, he “strains forward” forgetting what’s behind. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  

In the same way, Lisa and I must press forward, leaving past hurts, arguments and disappointments behind and straining forward to maintain our “woness.” This is definitely work. It takes determination and strength, but the payoff is great!

5 Steps To Being Able To Forgive Your Spouse 

In my last post I described the importance of forgiving your spouse. Now I would like to list five ways in which someone can come to the point where they are for giving their spouse. First let me be clear, in cases of infidelity or physical abuse forgiveness should come later. Trust is a whole different topic. But while the spouse is working and hopefully praying through this, he or she may want to remove themselves from the abusive situation and obtain spiritual council.
But if you’re holding on to a hurt and you just cannot forgive your spouse, you may want to consider five ways to be able to get to that point:

1. Consider the probability that your spouse may not know exactly what is troubling you or what’s been done to offend you. 

 Not telling your spouse also prevents him or her from apologizing. In other words, if you want your spouse to repent give them a chance.

2. Pray for clarity. 

If there has been a continuous offense that has been pointed out previously without an apology extended, the spouse really needs to make his or her feelings known. If however, you’re stewing over an offense that occurred several months ago, then you need to pray that God would give you clarity and peace of mind. This may give you an aerial view of the situation instead of a telescope view. In turn, forgiveness may come easier.

3. Instead of focusing on past hurts focus on the reasons you fell in love 

Changing your thought perspective may actually prevent you from slipping into bitterness. Accentuate the positive and think less about the negatives. This does not mean that your feelings don’t have to be communicated however. But if you’re just having problems getting over something that has already been discussed, changing your mindset, of which you have total control is an effective tool.

4. Pray that God gives you strength to forgive.

The importance of forgiveness was discussed in my last post. The most important reason to forgive your spouse is the fact that God has forgiven us. Your “woness” is much more important than holding on to old grudges. 

5. Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13
Instead of stewing on the past hurt or wondering why you did not receive the kind of apology that you wanted, it may help to focus on Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 

I hope this helps a couple having problems in this area.  
 

Forgiving Your Spouse 

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” These are words penned by Alexander Pope on “Essay on Criticism.” This is a true statement but seems to be often forgotten in the marriage relationship. Whether it’s holding on to hurtful words, a disrespectful action, or the resurfacing of past wrongs, a unwillingness to forgive can create a wall between husband and wife.  
Instead of dealing with these problems directly, they are worn as a badge of resentment eventually leading to bitterness. The other spouse may not even know that this ticking time bomb exists or he/she may have already apologized. The result of this is a hard and callused heart that questions the marriage altogether.    

Withholding forgiveness is like having ivy growing on the base of a house which slowly creeps along the walls and eventually takes over the whole house. Similarly, an unforgiving spirit will slowly affect a couple’s interaction, communication, and eventually the marriage. This is usually a slow fade as one of the spouses makes a conscious decision to hold on to the baggage of past hurts. Although this affects the spouse who probably does not know what’s going on, it also affects the person withholding forgiveness creating an emotional toll. This emotional toll can manifest itself physically.  


Scripture is very clear, in Mathew 6:14-15, about the fact that we are to forgive so that we in turn may be forgiven by our Heavenly Father:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  

Therefore friends, it definitely is divine to forgive. It not only can save one from physical ailments, it can also help save the “woness” of your marriage.  

What are steps that a spouse can take to reach a point where forgiveness is possible? Stay tuned for my next post.