The above title may seem a little strange… Love Shown Even at Home?!!! It is strange, but not without truth to it. You see, sometimes we act more loving, and give more grace to complete strangers than we do to our marriage partner.
Love Shown Even at Home
I had an in-law tell me that her husband, my relative, was difficult to live with. She said that when she was at church, interacting with people there, it was much easier to “act like a Christian” than when she went home. That is because of the challenges she faced with him. As I told her, “if every spouse would always act Christ-like, married life would be so much easier!”
But our Christian character isn’t only to be lived out when people are easier to live and work with. The real testing of who we are shows when things get tough. The Bible isn’t composed of nice fluffy suggestions as to how to live, as long as we aren’t challenged. It contains the tough stuff of what we’re expected to do. And in that expectation, the strength of who we are in Christ comes out when we’re tested, tried, and “bumped” into in various ways.
True strength of character shows up when no one else is looking except God. And that is applicable to marriage. Marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. He didn’t just love us when it was easy or when it didn’t try His grace. God loved, and loves us, even though we are sinners. He doesn’t excuse our sin by never challenging us or by letting us act sinful without consequences. But His grace is always available to those who are ready to embrace it.
Being Imitators of God
We are to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.“ (Ephesians 5:1-2) We are to live out our love at home AS WELL AS outside the home. Author Ravi Zacharias said something that spoke to my/our heart on this. He said,
“Being able to reach out with love to the masses means little if there is not a tender heart at home as well… A marriage should be in its depth within, and its reach without.”
Steve and I live by that principle. As we tell others, “We reach from strength at home, outward to others. God helps us to live out the principle of loving each other at home first. And from that strength, we can reach out without hypocrisy.” And believe us, it’s not that we’re always perfect. But it is our aim, with the power of the Lord! And we encourage all of you to do the same. If you are in ministry outside the home, please remember that on your wedding day you vowed to take on the ministry to first love your spouse. And that includes showing your love rather than just saying you love.
There’s something else that Ravi Zacharias testifies (in his book I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah), which we all should relate to.
“Some time ago, I was lecturing at a major university. And by the tremendous response both in the numbers of students attending the sessions and in their questions, it was evident to all that God was at work. As the man who had organized the event drove me to the airport, he said something that was quite jolting to me. He said, ‘My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all.’ He stopped and there was silence in the van for a moment. He continued, ‘She said, ‘That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'”
Ravi goes on to write:
“I have to admit it was one of the most sobering things I had ever heard. She was right. Did these truths apply in private as well as in public discourse? The truth is that God calls us to first practice truth in private so that its public expression is merely an outgrowth of what has already taken place in the heart and not a decoration over a hollow life. Developing that strength of character in private is foundational.”
So the question is, are you giving out love EVEN at home? Is your love shown, even within your home? Do you act with the same love and integrity behind closed doors as you do when others are looking? Is the love of Christ so deeply embedded into your heart, that it naturally flows into your actions so your spouse experiences the love of Christ through your words and actions when he or she is with you?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be Bible-LIVING Christians, as well as Bible-believing Christians. We are to live out the Scriptures that we claim to believe. In his book, Ravi Zacharias wrote one more thing we’d like for you to prayerfully consider.
“I caution you. I have known people who study the Scriptures, quote the Scriptures, and have every page marked and underlined. But their single purpose seems to be to use the Scriptures to attack others or to prove anything they want to prove while their lives show anything but the grace of God. The single greatest purpose of the Scriptures is to make you ‘wise unto salvation.‘ (2 Timothy 3:15 KJV) This means that it leads you to the Savior. And then it becomes a source of instruction to help you grow in character and wisdom. It is to equip you and make you presentable to God.”
The question is, DOES IT? Are you living out the principles of God so that others —including your spouse, recognize you as His living letter? Is your love shown as you live out your daily life?
God’s Word Tells Us:
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ… written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.“ (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
We pray it is so with you and with us. To God be the glory!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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