Friday, March 26, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 40

Love Is a Covenant "Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." – Ruth 1:16

Congratulations. You’ve reached the end of the Love Dare – the book. But the experience and challenge of loving your mate is something that never comes to an end. It goes on for the rest of your life.

This book may end at Day 40. But who says your dare has to stop? And as you view your marriage relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract. These two words sound similar in meaning and intent but are in reality much different. Seeing marriage as a contract is like saying to your spouse, “I take you for me and we’ll see if this works out.” But realizing it as a covenant changes it to say, “I give myself to you and commit to this marriage for life.”

There are many other differences between covenants and contracts. A contract is usually a written agreement based on distrust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken. A covenant is a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life. It is spoken before God out of love for another.

A contract is self-serving and comes with limited liability. It establishes a time frame for certain deliverables to be met and accomplished. A covenant is for the benefit of others and comes with unlimited responsibility. It has no expiration date. It is “til death do us part.” A contract can be broken with mutual consent. A covenant is intended to be unbreakable.

The Bible contains several major covenants as part of the unfolding story of God’s people. God made a covenant with Noah, promising never to destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood (Genesis 9:12-17). He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that an entire nation of descendents would come from his family line (Genesis 17:1-8). He made a covenant with Moses, declaring that the people of Israel would be God’s permanent possession (Exodus 19:3-6). He made a covenant with David, promising that a ruler would sit on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:7-16). Ultimately, He made a “new covenant” by the blood of Christ, establishing an unending, unchanging legacy of forgiven sins and eternal life for those who believe in Him (Hebrews 9:15). Never once has God broken any of these covenants.

And then there’s marriage – the strongest covenant on earth between two people, the pledge of a man and woman to establish a love that is unconditional and lasts a lifetime. In marriage, your wedding ring represents your covenant vows – not merely commitments you hoped to keep but premeditated promises, publicly spoken and witnessed by others.

As you’ve read numerous times in these pages, keeping this covenant is not something you can do in your own strength. There’s good reason why God was the One who initiated covenants with His people. He alone is able to fulfill the demands of His own promises. He alone is able to forgive the receivers of His covenant when they fail to uphold their part of the agreement. But the Spirit of God is within you by the virtue of your faith in His Son and the grace bestowed upon you in salvation. That means you now can exercise your role as covenant keeper, no matter what may arise to challenge your faithfulness to it.

Especially if your spouse is not in a place of receiving your love right now, the act of covenant keeping can grow more daunting with each passing day. But marriage is not a contract with escape clauses and exception wordings. Marriage is a covenant intended to cut off all avenues of retreat or withdrawal. There’s nothing in all the world that should sever what God has joined together. Your love is based on covenant.

Hundreds of years after the prophet Malachi recorded these words, people are still wondering why God withholds His hand of blessing at times from their homes and marriages. “You say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and your wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant … For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with wrong, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:14, 16).

Every marriage is called to be an earthly picture of God’s heavenly covenant with His church. It is to reveal to the world the glory and beauty of God’s unconditional love for us. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9 NIV). Let His words inspire you to be a channel of God’s love to your spouse.

The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender. Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences. Fasten your love afresh on this one the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor.

Your life together is before you. Dare to take hold of it and never let go.

We dare you.

Today’s Dare: Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home. Perhaps if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your wedding vows before a minister and with family present. Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate.

"He has remembered His covenant forever." - Psalm 105:8

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

2 comments:

She Ra Princess of Milk said...

Beautiful, just reading through these and was inspired to write my husband a card. We have a two month old baby and he just lost his job as an engineer so I have had to go back to work before planned and we are still going to be $thousands short each month. But we will get through and we will be stronger for it. Thank you for sharing... I think I had better get my love dare workbook out and open it up, because we never actually did it... Youve inspired me twice today :)

lots of love
Nicki
http://beyondtheboob.blogspot.com

Living a Changed Life said...

Nicki - You're welcome! I went through the Love Dare and it was great. Let me know what you think of it.

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