Remember when you first started dating your spouse? It started off with flirty messages and interactions. There were butterflies when you saw their smile or felt their touch. Soon your relationship morphed into long conversations late into the night with anticipation of the next date or meet-up. These components among others are part of what you described as ‘being in love.’ Then you got married. As the years have continued, your understanding of love has changed. It may look and sound a bit more like a group of 4–8-year-olds who were asked, “What does love mean?” Their answers:
- When my grandfather paints my grandmother’s toenails because she has arthritis and can’t do it anymore, that’s love.
- Love is what makes you smile when you are tired.
- Love is when my mom makes coffee for my dad and takes a sip before she gives it to him to make sure it is okay.
- Love is what is in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.
- Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt and then he wears it every day!
- Love is a little old man and a little old woman who are still friends even after they know each other very well.
- Love is when dad gives mom the best piece of chicken.
Love goes deeper than a feeling. It is an action. The longer you love someone, the more you realize that love means sacrifice. “Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). We are called to daily lay down our lives for each other through sacrifice, protection, serving, affirming, preferring each other above ourselves, planning and strategizing, praying and playing together, and guarding our marriage and family unity (1 Jn 3:16).
Love also means commitment. In sickness and in health, enduring the storm, friendship, community, authenticity, consistency, talking it through, and praying it through, finishing well, finishing strong (2 Tim 4:7, Gal 6:9).
Love means repentance and forgiveness. Rom 5:8 says that God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. We must model Christ’s example of love by forgiving and being forgiven (Mt 6:14), over and over (Mt 8:21-22), even when your spouse intentionally wounds you (Mt 5:44), and showing love and respect even when they have not earned or deserve it (2 Cor 2:6-11).
Is love toward your spouse reflected in your actions of sacrifice, commitment, humility, and forgiveness? Take some time today to reflect on and refresh your love.
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