“23 Things Love Is”

Yesterday in worship (11/11/18) we used this explanation of love by Paul Tripp to confess our sins and give thanks to God for his eternal love for us through Christ. And again, below is another reason to keep reading Paul Tripp. But before you read below, this is what Jesus said in John 15:12-13: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus does not merely present himself as a role model. But more importantly, as our Redeemer and Savior who lays down his life to give us the grace, the ability to love others the same way he loves us each day, all-day-long.     

  1. LOVE IS being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
  2. LOVE IS actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. LOVE IS making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. LOVE IS being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
  5. LOVE IS being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
  6. LOVE IS making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  7. LOVE IS being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  8. LOVE IS making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  9. LOVE IS being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  10. LOVE IS being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.
  11. LOVE IS being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  12. LOVE IS being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
  13. LOVE IS recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  14. LOVE IS speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.
  15. LOVE IS being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  16. LOVE IS being unwilling to ask another person to be the source of your identity, meaning, and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of theirs.
  17. LOVE IS the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.
  18. LOVE IS a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.
  19. LOVE IS staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  20. LOVE IS the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.
  21. LOVE IS being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  22. LOVE IS refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  23. LOVE IS daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.

          

The #1 Love Song – part 2

I’ve taken time off from writing – but it’s time to get back to it.

In the previous post I quoted from the #1 Love Song of all time – “Song of Songs” by Solomon. It is expressive and shameless in its celebration of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. But since Jesus says this song is ultimately about him (Luke 24:44), and that human marriage refers to his marriage to the church (Eph. 5:31-33), then what you believe about love, sex, and marriage reveals what you believe about Jesus. And what you believe about sex, the when and between whom, also reveals what you believe about Jesus.

Jesus said that this (song of songs, love-making in marriage, one flesh union, skin on skin intimacy between a man and a woman) is to help us see who is this God that would “so love the world that he would give his only begotten Son” – to die for a bride and win her heart forever. This is why Jesus approves of only one kind of sexual intimacy that is recorded in the Song of Songs. The kind between one man and one woman because there is only one male Jesus Christ and one female bride, the church.

In the Song of Songs, only a male speaking to a female and a female speaking to a male can do this. Two males or two females can’t ever speak to each other in such a complementary and diverse way. Only a male and a female can be husband and wife and only a male and a female were made to literally, physically, anatomically, spiritually – fit together. And it is only a male with a female in married love that displays Christ and the Church.

Therefore, I make these applications based upon what Jesus said and modeled:

1. If your spouse is a member of Christ, his bride, you cannot love the head while you despise his members, one of which is your spouse. Your relationship with your spouse is out of reverence for Christ. How you treat your spouse is how you treat Jesus. Jesus takes it personally.

2. Sacrificial Love on the husband’s part, and sacrificial respect on the wife’s part reveal both our sinful rebellion and need of Jesus Christ at the same time.

Remember, you have to be told to love and to respect. You have to be told to walk in love and submit to one another (Eph. 5:1-2). Your spouse did not create sinful rebellion in your heart – it was already there when you said “I Do”. You’ve always needed Christ to       conquer and captivate your heart.

3. You don’t need a perfect spouse to love him/her, you need a perfect Savior to change your heart to love the way he loves you. The challenge is to know yourself as the bride of Christ, eternally loved from before time – so that you can have the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

This raises an interesting question:

Why didn’t Jesus get married to better display what married love is all about?

Answer: Because he already was married to a woman – the church! This means that no matter what your status is, married, single, widowed, or divorced, you can know true love by knowing Christ.

 

 

 

The #1 Love Song – part 1

Check out these lyrics from a song that was written over 2500 years ago. It’s a Love Song that begins with how the bride-to-be feels about her man.

She says: 

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant – draw me after you; let us run.” (1:1, 4)

Then He responds: 

“I compare you, my love . . . your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. You are beautiful my love, you are beautiful, your eyes are like doves.” (1:9a, 15)

She remembers and recites his words of proposal to spend the rest of her life with him: 

“Arise, my love my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” (2:10-13)

And then she has a bad dream at night before her wedding day, fearing that the love of her life is lost.

“On my bed by night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not.” (3:1, 4b)

On their wedding day, they speak their vows to one another:

He says:

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love . . . Your eyes are doves behind your veil . . . your lips are like a scarlet thread and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil . . . your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies . You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you . . . you have captivated my heart, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride.” (4:1a, 3, 5, 7, 9-10, 11, 16)

She responds:

“Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its choicest fruits.” (4:16a)

The guests at the wedding party joyfully approve:

“Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” (5:1b)

Then the Honeymoon, where they intimately describe each other’s body:

She describes her husband: 

“My beloved is radiant and sturdy – his head is the finest – his locks are wavy – his eyes are like doves beside streams of water bathed in milk sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold set with jewels. His body is polished ivory bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His mouth is most sweet and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend.” (5:10-16a)

He describes his wife:

“Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. How beautiful and pleasant you are, o loved one, with all your delights. Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say, “I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.”   (7:1-2, 6-9)

The night is over. And in the warm summer morning she invites him to make love to her again  – outside among the fruit trees. And then she tells him:

“. . . under the apple tree I awakened you” (8:5)

Nearing the end of the Love Song, she says to her husband: 

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” (8:6-7b)

The Point:

Married Love is a powerful gift from the Lord. It is relentless in its jealous pursuit of one another. It is not selfish but rather, is hot red with devotion and commitment and covenant, it perseveres through anything, plodding along year after year. Nothing is stronger than what God gives to a man and woman in marriage. The Love-making between a husband and wife is the very flame, the passion of the Lord himself.

Which means, there is something more to this Song of Songs (found in the Bible, the Old Testament). I’ll tell you in the next post. But for now, ask yourself this question:

Who is this God that would create such a union of ecstasy between a married man and woman, and why?

 

Happy Birthday to “the wife of my youth”!

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Proverbs 5:18ff commends enjoyment with the girl you married when you were young. Yesterday, I enjoyed spending the day with her. I’m not in the dark about how this was made possible – much grace in many ways made the day. Contributors to our life together: loving family, skilled doctors and nurses, good eating and exercise habits, world-class hospitals, and an exceptional godly church family, all put together make one’s life a display of grace. For it is pure undiluted grace that explains the richness of life.

Now I’m not tell’n how old she is, I’m just say’n that . . .

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. . . she’s thrifty, enjoying some German cuisine at Prost with a $15 coupon that she found on the internet. I had pork belly and she had veal.

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. . . she’s nifty, which means she’s an enjoyable person to spend time with. She loves good tasting tea.

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. . . she’s frisky, as long as she gets her chocolates at The Fudge Pot!

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. . . she’s shifty, because no matter how hard I try to steer clear of things that grow in gardens, she suckers me in to stopping at these spots.

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. . . and she’s pithy. (that’s a synonym for “short” as clearly seen above standing beside a security guard). Visiting Hershey’s in Chicago is always a must. BTY, I just love how cinnanyms give us other options so we don’t use the same word twice – especially on sweet rolls – don’t you!?

Happy Birthday Cheryl. It was a great day in Chicago with you.

Husband, Wife, does it annoy you to consider . . .

. . . that you will have complete admiration and love for the other in heaven? You see, if you are both in Christ and will be with Christ when you die, then this means that all that hinders love will be gone and there will be nothing but joy and delight in the other as with all other saints. Does it annoy you to think that all the contempt, anger, revenge, distrust, repudiation that you presently feel in your heart for your spouse, that when in heaven – POOF?! Gone. For not only will all the sin be obliterated in your spouse that stirred up your disdain for your spouse, but also all the sin that you justified in your heart to hold a grudge will finally be conquered by the lovely Savior. I ask again: Does it irritate you to think that in heaven you will have sweet and delightful, open and honest, generous and courteous, pleasurable and satisfying, enjoyable and stimulating, affectionate and exhilarating conversation and fellowship with your spouse?

If it annoys you to be so overwhelmed with the love of God that your relationship with your spouse will be as perfect as the Father’s is with his Son, then what does this say about your need to know more of the love of God? I fear that too many husbands and wives who say they are going to heaven but can’t fathom enjoying each other there, have not truly contemplated what heaven is and their own present need for change.

Recently I reflected again on Jonathan Edwards’ sermon that I’ve read several times over the years, “Heaven, A World of Charity or Love.” Hands down, it’s the most nourishing sermon on heaven’s love that I have ever read. Here are a few quotes from the sermon, which is found in his book, Charity And Its Fruits (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1852):

“Here I remark that the God of love himself dwells in heaven. Heaven is the palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One, whose name is love, and who is both the cause and source of all holy love . . . and this renders heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light.” (pg. 326)

After taking us on a patient stroll of heaven’s love – God himself in Christ, Edwards then turns to the saints and shows us what divine love we will have for the other, reciprocated with as much delight as having been loved by the other and by the God of love himself:

“The saints shall know that God loves them, and they shall never doubt the greatness of his love, and they shall have no doubt of the love of all their fellow-inhabitants in heaven. And they shall not be jealous of the constancy of each other’s love. They shall have no suspicion that the love which others have felt toward them is abated, or in any degree withdrawn from themselves for the sake of some rival, or by reason of anything in themselves which they suspect is disagreeable to others, or through any inconstancy in their own hearts or the hearts of others. Nor will they be in the least afraid that the love of any will ever be abated toward them. There shall be no such thing as inconstancy and unfaithfulness in heaven, to molest and disturb the friendship of that blessed society. The saints shall have no fear that the love of God will ever abate towards them, or that Christ will not continue always to love them with unabated tenderness and affection. And they shall have no jealousy one of another, but shall know that by divine grace the mutual love that exists between them shall never decay nor change.” (pg. 340-41)

“There shall be no wall of separation in heaven to keep the saints asunder, nor shall they be hindered from the full and complete enjoyment of each other’s love by distance of habitation; for they shall all be together, as one family, in their heavenly Father’s house. Nor shall there be any want of full acquaintance to hinder the greatest possible intimacy; and much less shall there be any misunderstanding between them, or misinterpreting things that are said or done by each other. There shall be no disunion through difference of temper, or manners, or circumstances, or from various opinions, or interests, or feelings, or alliances; but all shall be united in the same interests, and all alike allied to the same Savior, and all employed in the same business, serving and glorifying the same God.”   (pg. 343)

When I am annoyed in loving those that I will spend an eternity with in heaven, I meditate on heaven’s love and then set my heart in line with what is to come. O how I long to experience this kind of love for all the saints, one of which is my wife. I hope you too desire to know the love of God in full measure.

Don’t Love Your Spouse the Way a Tick Loves a Dog

One of my joyful responsibilities as a young boy was to pry the ticks off Duke when he came in from the woods, having been gone for several days. I loved ol’ Duke – a Norwegian Elkhound, the favorite canine breed of my family in those days. Do you know what a dog looks like after a few days in the woods? Imagine a dozen or so thick and plump Sumo wrestlers on a Brontosaurus with their slick heads firmly imbedded in the massive creature, sucking and sucking like there’s no tomorrow. These blood-gorged ticks were, in one real sense, draining the life out of the dog and if left in that condition, would eventually do the dog in.

Would you say that a blood-sucking gorged tick really loves the dog or is selfishly using the dog? If you asked the tick, a delusional joyful bug-eyed ‘yes I love this dog’ would be the answer. But that’s not love – it’s selfishness to live off the life of another. Parasite’s don’t love – they just drain. They don’t give – they take. They don’t lose their lives –  they keep it at the expense of the host.

We often don’t realize that we love our spouses the way a tick loves a dog. And we do this because we’re empty on the inside. I wonder what it is like to be so full of knowing God the Father in the same way that the Son knew his father, that people will never be my source of sustenance ever again – especially Cheryl? I don’t mean to diminish my needs for affection, respect, friendship, and support. But I also don’t mean to exalt these things as my NEEDS, as if Cheryl is my all in all and Jesus is small. Not even Jesus functions like a dog for my tick-like passions. He will not piggy-back my blood-thirst, allowing my selfishness to swell and swell.

By his Spirit, Jesus does for us what I would do for my dog – gently extract those suckers out of Duke, head and all. Then came the fun part. Ok I’ll skip that! Don’t want this post to get too squishy.

It’s time to just say it: Don’t love your spouse the way a tick loves a dog. Why Not? Because that’s not the way God loves you. He gives, he does not take. He does command you to lose your life, not because he needs your life but because he wants you to keep it – He is the Ultimate Life Giver! And what he supplies is his own life, in you, so that when you approach your spouse, it’s with a giving heart, the heart of Jesus.

Now we see that when Jesus speaks of a cost to living for him (Luke 14:25-33), it is not because he wants us to do without but he wants us to thrive . . . on his life-blood.
The love in marriage as it displays Christ’s sacrificial love for his bride, the church, and the church’s respect and devotion for Christ, her head, is truly a mysterious joy. But it can easily become distorted and what looks like love is actually selfishness and a keeping of ones life. Often in our marriages, we use the other, living off the other in an unhealthy way not only for ourselves but also for them.

Love Jesus more than your spouse. Turn away from loving one another the way a tick loves a dog, sucking the life out of the other. Live on Christ – Jesus is much more satisfying and you’ll be free to love the other the way Jesus loves you – a life-giver and not a life-taker.