Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men. – Ephesians 6:7 HCSB
It doesn’t take much experience to discover that your mate will not always motivate your love. In fact, many times they will de-motivate it. More often than you’d like, it will seem difficult to find the inspiration to demonstrated your love. They may not even receive it when you try to express it. That’s simply the nature life, even in fairly healthy marriages.
But although moods and emotions can create all kinds of moving motivational targets, one is certain to stay in the same place, all the time. When God is your reason for loving, your ability to love is guaranteed.
That’s because love comes from Him.
Think of it like this. When you were a child, your parents certainly established rules for you to follow. Your bedtime was at a certain hour. Your room had to be kept mostly clean. Your schoolwork needed to be finished before you could go play. If you were like most people, you bent these rules as often as you obeyed them. And if not for the incentive of force and consequences, you might not have obeyed them at all.
But if you met Christ along the way or received any kind of Bible teaching, you probably were exposed to this idea – “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). If you took this to heart at all, you knew you didn’t merely have your parents to answer anymore.
This was no longer a battle of wills between you and a flesh-and-blood authority figure. This was now between you and God. Your mom and dad were just the go-betweens.
As it turns out, however, the relationship between parents and children isn’t the only thing enhanced by letting God become your driving motivation. Consider the following areas where pleasing Him should become our goal:
Work. “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Service. “Obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord” (Colossians 3:22).
Everything. “Work hard at “whatever you do … knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Even marriage. “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
The love that’s demanded from you in marriage is not dependent on your mate’s sweetness or suitability. The love between a husband and wife should have one chief objective: honoring the Lord with devotion and sincerity. The fact that it blesses our beloved in the process is simply a wonderful, additional benefit.
This change of focus and perspective is crucial for a Christian. Being able to wake up knowing that God is your source and supply – not just of your own needs but also those of your spouse – changes your whole reason for interacting with your mate.
No longer is it this imperfect person who decides how much love you’ll show, but rather it’s your omni-perfect God who can use even a flawed person like yourself to bestow loving favor on another.
Has your wife become fairly hard to live with lately? Is her slowness at getting over a disagreement wearing on your patience? Can she not just give it a rest? Don’t withhold your love just because she thinks differently from you. Love her “as to the Lord.”
Is your husband tuning you out, not saying much, apparently brooding over something he’s not interested in sharing? Do you feel hurt by his unwillingness to open up? Are you tired of him being so short with you, not even responding to the children the way he needs to? Don’t battle back with a double dose of silence and inattention. Love him anyway. “As to the Lord.”
Love motivated by mere duty cannot hold out for very long. And love that is only motivated by favorable conditions can never be assured of sufficient oxygen to keep it breathing. Only love that is lifted up as an offering to God – returned to Him in gratitude for all He’s done – is able to sustain itself when all other reasons have lost their ability to energize us.
Those who are fine with mediocre marriages can leave their love to chance and hope for the best. But if you are committed to giving your spouse the best. But if you are committed to giving your spouse the best love you possibly can, you need to shoot for love’s highest motivation. Love that has god as its primary focus is unlimited in the heights it can attain.
Before you see your spouse again today, pray for them by name and for their needs. Whether it comes easy for you or not, say “I love you,” then express love to them in some tangible way. Go to God in prayers again, thanking Him for giving you the privilege of loving this one special person – unconditionally, the way He loves both of you.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
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Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission. Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.