There are a million songs written about love. Popular magazines write about love–how to find it and how to keep it. Greeting card companies would go out of business if not for cards expressing love from one person to another. Movies and television shows have themes about love. The kind of love we see in popular culture pales in comparison to the kind of love that Jesus commands us to have for each other. God calls us to love everybody, even the unlovable, even our enemies. John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We show our love for God by loving each other. It is a command (not a suggestion) from God that appears many times throughout the Bible. Jesus set the perfect example of love by dying on the cross to save us from our sins. This is sacrificial love, the same type of love we are to strive for. “God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son” (Jerry Bridges). Are you striving to love others as Jesus loves us? It is a command from God and a daily struggle. Pray daily to love others so the love of Jesus will shine through you.
Ephesians 5:21 tells us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Is “out of reverence for Christ” what you’re thinking when your mom or dad tells you to take out the trash? Probably not. Is it what you’re thinking when you pull over because a police cruiser comes behind you and turns on its blue flashing lights? Probably not. You’re thinking about a lot of things other than the idea of submission as you put your car in park and pull out your driver’s license. But the Bible tells us in Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Just what is submission? It’s been defined as a voluntary attitude of giving in, of cooperation. Shelley Poston says that “Submission takes humility. It also takes a lot of prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit.” We’re told basically the same thing in James 4:7 “So, humble yourselves before God.” If you’re still having problems with the concept of submission, just think about the ultimate example of submission that we see in Christ. As Jesus was facing His own cruel death, He had the power to save Himself. Instead, He went to the Mount of Olives to pray and gave in to what His Father was asking of Him. He taught the true meaning of submission as He “knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’” (Luke 22:41b-43) If He voluntarily gave in to dying on the cross as His submission to God’s will for Him, can we do anything less than submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ”?
It’s all about the order. Fire, ready, aim. The steps are fine. The wrong order is a recipe for disaster. When conflicts come along, and conflicts most certainly will come along, we need to know the right steps, know the right order, and do what we know is right. Here are some clear directions. Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. -James 1:19-20 (MSG) These words are important enough to deserve top of the mind attention. The reason is simple. Our reflex action to conflict is to get mad, say something we’ll later regret, and never hear the other point of view. Getting the order right requires conscious effort. But the results are certainly worth the effort. A sneeze travels at 600 miles per hour. Harsh words seem to travel just as fast. Like a sneeze, you can’t bring them back. And yes, both are quite capable of creating a mess. Fast words can bring a fast end to any relationship. Slow down. Listen. Enjoy relationships that are built to last.
Let’s have some fun–sounds easy enough. But it may take a little thought and a bit of effort. Interestingly, even having fun has some structure… and rules. The basic rule for fun is one we all know. The Golden Rule: do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31 NIV) Now The Golden Rule is not just for children on the playground or any particular group of people; it applies to all. In fact it may have greater meaning as we get older. Respect should have no boundaries; it should be exercised at all times. Let’s agree that fun is not just a “kid thing” or something that ends at a certain age; and it is linked to respect. Fun is about laughter and sometimes has a reputation of frivolity, leisure, or wasting time. But let’s take a different view of fun–as a building block in the foundation of a strong marriage. Fun can be a sign and a symbol. A married couple will have fun when they have love and respect. Love and respect stems from a thoughtful approach to the relationship that is focused first on what you can do, how you can serve, how you can show love to your spouse. When the respect and love factors are high, fun follows. Fun can serve another function. It can be a great example. A powerful compliment…”They are such a fun couple!” What does that really say? There is a marriage that is strong enough to encourage fun and laughter and playfulness. There are certainly times to be serious. Just remember that fun of all types in marriage happens in the midst of love and respect. Marriage is serious enough to have fun!
There is a war going on in our society today; A war against purity in our marriages. Our culture has become obsessed with sex. We constantly see images that try to create temptation in our minds. Marketing professionals understand this, and capitalize upon it. God created sex as an intimate, beautiful act between husband and wife. Sadly, sin has corrupted it. The media has made it an idol. Society accepts sex outside of marriage as normal. It never tells of the hurt, brokenness and regret that accompanies adultery. In Hebrews 13:4, Paul says, “Marriage must be honored among all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.” Paul isn’t saying to keep your marriage bed pure when you feel like it. He’s urging couples to do whatever it takes to protect their relationship from outward and inward temptations always. Those temptations might include inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex, emotional unfaithfulness, pornography, adultery, or rejecting your spouse’s physical and emotional needs. Sex is a picture of oneness in marriage and God takes seriously any sin that could destroy what He created. As followers of Christ, we’re called to pursue purity no matter if we’re single or married. Our responsibility is to surround ourselves with believers who will encourage us to be holy. Pursuing purity within our marriages may not always be easy, but it is worth it. We must be determined to fight in order to love and obey the Lord and stay pure.