Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 11

Love Cherishes "Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies." – Ephesians 5:28

Consider these two scenarios.

A man’s older car begins having serious trouble, so he takes it to a mechanic. After an assessment is made, he is told it will need a complete overhaul, which would tax his limited budget. Because of the expensive repairs, he determines to get rid of the car and spend his funds on a new vehicle. Seems reasonable, right?

Another man, an engineer, accidentally crushes his hand in a piece of equipment. He rushes to the hospital and has it x-rayed, finding that numerous bones are broken. Although frustrated and in pain, he willingly uses his savings to have it doctored and placed in a cast, then gingerly nurses it back to health over the following months. This too, probably seems reasonable to you.

The problem within our culture is that marriage is more often treated like the first scenario. When your relationship experiences difficulty, you are urged to dump your spouse for a “newer model.” But those who have this view do not understand the significant bond between a husband and wife. The truth is, marriage is more like the second scenario. You are a part of one another. You would never cut off your hand if it was injured but would pay whatever you could afford for the best medical treatment possible. That’s because your hand is priceless to you. It is part of who you are.

And so is your mate. Marriage is a beautiful mystery created by God, joining two lives together as one. This is not only happens physically but spiritually and emotionally. You start off sharing the same house, the same bed, the same last name. Your identity as individuals has been joined into one. When your spouse goes through a tragedy, both of you feel it. When you find success at your job, both of your rejoice. But somewhere along the way, you experience disappointment, and the sobering reality that you married and imperfect person sets in.

This, however, does not change the fact that your spouse is still a part of you. Ephesians 5:28-29 says, “Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”

This verse speaks to husbands, but notice how each member is viewed. They are both considered to be the same flesh. You must treat them with the same nurture and care that you treat yourself. When you show love to your spouse, you are showing love to yourself as well.

But there is a flip side to this coin. When you mistreat your mate, you are mistreating yourself. Think about it. Your lives are now interwoven together. Your spouse cannot experience joy or pain, blessing or cursing, without it also affecting you. So when you attack your mate, it is like attacking your own body.

It’s time to let love change your thinking. It’s time for you to realize that your spouse is as much a part of you as your hand, your eye, or your heart. She, too, needs to be loved and cherished. And if she has issues causing pain or frustration, then you should care for these with the same love and tenderness as you would a bodily injury. If he is wounded in some way, you should think of yourself as an instrument that helps bring healing to his life.

In light of this, think about how you treat your spouse’s physical body. Do you cherish it as your own? Do you treat it with respect and tenderness? Do you take pleasure in who they are? Or do you make them feel foolish or embarrassed? Just as you treasure your eyes, hands, and feet, you should treasure your spouse as a priceless gift.

Don’t let the culture around you determine the worth of your marriage. To compare it with something that can be discarded or replaced is to dishonor God’s purpose for it. That would be like amputating a limb. Instead, it should be a picture of love between two imperfect people who choose to love each other regardless.

Whenever a husband looks into the eyes of his wife, he should remember that “he who loves his wife loves himself.” And a wife should remember that when she loves him, she is also giving love and honor to herself.

When you look at your mate, you’re looking at a part of you. So treat her well. Speak highly of him. Nourish and cherish the love of your life.

Today’s Dare: What need does your spouse have that could meet today? Can you run an errand? Give a back rub or foot massage? Is there housework you could help with? Choose a gesture that says, “I cherish you” and do it with a smile.

"Answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”" - Mark 10:51

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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