Live Like You Were Dating
- Sunday, June 17, 2012
"Love does not seek its own…" (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Okay, true, I just told an embarrassing story on Mrs. McEvoy, which might cause some to say, "That ain't love!" But I did it with her permission, so let's move on to the meat...
In Colossians 3:18-19, and again in Ephesians 5:24-25, we are quite simply told by Paul how this marriage thing is going to work. Unfortunately, I’ve heard the first half of those verse pairings – the "women submit" part – quoted and exercised far more often than the equally important "husbands love" portion.
Anyway, remember how much easier those commands seemed back then? This was the most wonderful person in the world. They communicated well, never sought their own way; it would be so easy to submit to him or actively display love for her. Then time, comfort, bad habits, and the daily grind got a hold of you both. Satan tossed clutter everywhere. Threw in some doubt. Sprayed super-green paint on your neighbor’s grass (and spouse). Marriage, it turned out, was complicated.
I’ll be the first to attest to that, although the Bible doesn’t really think so if you go by the fact that it’s not dripping with verses on how to navigate the maze. You leave, you cleave, then you love/submit. Those simple instructions don’t seem to get us very far down the path. In fact, they seem to take us happily up to the vows and leave us there.
Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps there is no "trick" to loving deeper, you must get in touch with what it is you fell in love with this person for in the first place, and act upon it. In Revelation 2:4, God holds against the church at Ephesus that they have left their first love. This speaks, of course, to their having lost enthusiasm for new life in Christ, but the verse does suggest that returning to one’s love, whether for Christ or spouse, is possible. Meditating on and appreciating the circumstances that started the relationship are a good way of seeing how deep the apparently-shallow pool we’re standing in actually is.
"If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal…" (1 Corinthians 13:1)
This is where I tend to have a problem, being gruff by nature. I’m pleasant enough to co-workers and strangers. I've even earned the nickname "Small-Talk McEvoy" from one of my buddies, but for some reason, those I love the most are at times blessed with a symphony of grunts, groans, and snippy comments.
Not only is that gruff nature part of the "former self" that Ephesians Ephesians 4:22-27 says has been laid aside in favor of righteousness and speaking truth, but I recall that it did not dare rear its head during our dating days. That’s not just because I was trying to sell this woman on my finer qualities, but because I truly felt the love and respect for her that I was dishing out. I therefore gave no place to impatient or intellectually superior speech.
In the words of James, there were, when I was dating Valerie, precious few times when the same fountain sent out both fresh and bitter water. But gradually, as I failed to guard my tongue (James 3:6-8), I lazily allowed that small amount of bitterness to befoul the whole cistern. I don’t want to give the impression that I stalk the grounds of my house grumpy and cursing when I’m actually a pretty decent husband and father, but this is where I can stand the most improvement in my relationship, and I know it. Harkening back to the days when I wrote poetry, quoted scripture, wooed from afar, and encouraged about the future has helped me to remember the importance of bridling my tongue. James says horses and great ships are steered by very small bits and rudders. Likewise, the direction of my marriage may be steered by brushing up on the language I spoke when dating.
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