In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  Ephesians 5:28

Isn’t it interesting how common we Christians think love is only about duty and self-sacrifice? Often, we hear love is not a feeling but a verb or an action. Though this is true, it is not the whole story. True love and sacrifice are more than just an act of will, though it starts there. Reflect on these verses with respect towards what our feelings should be in our actions?

“All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes that He commanded you….Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things.” Deuteronomy 28:45, 47 (Emphasis Added)

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (Emphasis Added)

The point is, in our vertical relationship we are to seek our joy in the joy of the Lord. We should find our joy in what makes Him joyful. That is the end in itself. The same is true in our horizontal relationship with our spouses. John Piper says it best, “The biblical mandate to husbands and wives is to seek your own joy in the joy of your spouse.”[1] Consider the implications of this end in marriage. I don’t serve to get something or because it is a duty. I serve because it brings me joy when my wife has joy. Isn’t that what Ephesians 5:28 is actually saying? “Selfishness seeks it's own private happiness at the expense of others [our spouses]. Love seeks it's happiness in the happiness of the beloved.”[2] Therefore, if we want to have a strong marriage, we need to devote the same time and energy to making our spouses happy as we do our own. This is what God intended for marriage. Think about what this would mean in marriage. There would be no more keeping records of who serves more than the other. There would be no place for one-upmanship. The joy I receive when giving my spouse joy is the end in itself…is does not want or expect anything more.
   [1] Dangerous Duty of Delight, p.54
   [2] Ibid. p.57

by Michael Burner

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