Three Valentine's Devotions for Lovers
- 2011 8 Feb
Loving Each Other
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful. --1 Corinthians 13:4
When Shirley and I were dating, her mother made a statement that went something like this: "Some married people are kinder to their friends than they are to each other." Over the years I've thought about those words often and determined it wouldn't apply to us.
Sometimes because we love each other, we tend to take the other for granted. We become more considerate of new relationships because we want to establish them. We already have a loving relationship with our lover and therefore do not show concern.
I've noticed that when many couples are in the dating stage, they're courteous and helpful. I've seen the dashing young fellow carefully open doors for the light of his life. I've often seen those same couples a year after their marriage. He gets out of the car and lets her get out by herself.
One of the things Shirley and I decided when we were dating was that I would continue opening doors for her all through our married life. I also said, "If I forget, I expect you to remind me." I'm still opening doors for Shirley because it's my way of saying I care about her and want to do little things for her.
True lovers constantly find ways to show they appreciate each other and to affirm the relationship they have.
True lovers enjoy each other. They do things together, whether it's working, participating in sports, or attending plays and concerts. They share common interests.
True lovers respect each other. They may disagree, but they allow for differences of opinion. When we really love another person, we don't presume him or her to act contrary to his or her values.
We had a woman in our church who was very talented musically. She once said that people had appreciated her talent for years, but very few had appreciated her as a person. She needed affirmation as a human being and not just recognition of her abilities.
Lovers care by being sensitive to each other's hopes, fears, aspirations, dreams, and plans. The Apostle John writes, "Beloved, let us love one another." "Beloved" could be read as "dear friends," as it is in some translations. He's saying, "As friends, let's love one another." Lovers respect, love, and cherish each other, not only for today but throughout their lives.
Lord God, teach us the full dimensions of love as we discover more about each other and discover more about you. Amen.
...for he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." --Hebrews 13:5
I was involved in an automobile accident four years ago. A man in another car ran through a red light and hit me. My car was severely damaged, and I did not have another vehicle. Several friends told me how sorry they were about my situation. Many of them added something like "If there's anything we can do..." One friend, Bob, never made such a statement. He heard about the accident, called, and said, "For a few days we can get by with one car. We'd like to lend you our second car." Bob's love was available to me.
Often we want to spend time with our friends, but only at our convenience. There are times when we wish to be alone and resent the intrusion of other people and their problems. We like to choose our availability.
Yet true love is available at all times. That doesn't mean I always feel loving, or that I always feel good about being disturbed. But if I really love you I am available to you.
True lovers make themselves available to each other. Available to listen, to talk, to touch, to hold. Available lovers echo the words from Hebrews, "I will never leave you" (see KJV).
We understand that promise because Jesus Christ gives us the perfect model. God says he will never leave us, and that he will never fail us in any way. True lovers work at imitating that ideal.
Faithful Lord, as we appreciate your availability, may we learn always to be available to each other. Amen.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the Lord loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. --Deuteronomy 7:7-8
Shirley and I had dated nearly three months, and our relationship progressed nicely. We did things together. We talked. We prayed.
When did I start loving her? I have no idea. The consciousness of it came to me as I sat across a table from her during a Bible-study group. I had to leave early and didn't get to say good-bye. Just before I left, our eyes met, and we held that look. I knew then that I loved her. Somehow I knew from the expression in her eyes that she loved me, too.
Later I thought about it. I knew why I loved her. I could think of hundreds of reasons for loving her. But I just couldn't figure out why she loved me. A Christian as committed as Shirley could have had many others. But she had loved me. Why?
We've now been married a quarter of a century, and I still haven't answered the question. Just as well. It doesn't have an answer. It's enough to say, "She loves me."
I caught on to this through reading Deuteronomy 7 one evening. God prepared to take the Israelites into the new land, and he called them a holy people (that is, a people which he had separated for himself). He told them he had chosen them, but not because they were a great nation. In fact, he reminded them, "You were the fewest of all peoples." Then he told why he chose them: "It is because the Lord loves you."
If we can figure out a reason for God's love, we haven't truly understood love. We have no claims on him. We have no right. We don't deserve anything. Once we grasp that fact, we can appreciate the depth of his love.
God loves us, that's all we can say.
When we come right down to it, we can't really explain why we love each other any more than we can explain why God loves us. But then, does it really matter? Isn't it enough just to know?
Lord, thank you that ____________ loves me. I don't understand why she/he loves me, any more than I understand why you love me. But I accept you both. Amen.
Please also see: Invading the Privacy of God devotionals by Cecil Murphey, every Monday on Crosswalk.
Excerpted from Devotions for Lovers by Cecil B. Murphey, Spire Books, 1982. Used with permission from the author.
Cecil Murphey has written dozens of books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, and Caregiving. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. Cec loves meeting the people who have benefited from reading his books, saying that interacting with them stimulates his mind and nourishes his soul. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife Shirley, a wonderful woman and former editor. They have three grown children.