Friday, January 6, 2012

A Tough Lesson From My Wife

I married an incredible lady. She is many years younger than me but age has nothing to do with the wisdom God gives to us. One of the things she does that astounds me is her natural way to never give up in love. No matter how people treat her, what they say against her, or even the hate she sometimes faces, she presses on in love. Beyond tolerating these people she actually takes determined actions to show her love to them through all kinds of acts of kindness. She has a greater understanding of righteousness simply because she allows herself to be governed by what is right and not by her feelings.

I will be quite honest with you, if I had faced some of the situations she has faced I would have given up on the people a long time ago. I am not talking about a simple matter of her showing love to a person and winning them over in a few months. I am talking about a number of years where she has shown kindness after kindness and yet they still attack her character. My wife follows the character of Christ which has been given to her by the Holy Spirit. She has as many faults as I do but in this one thing she shows more maturity than I find in the most ancient and wise people. Remember this proverb:

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; 
   if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, 
   and the LORD will reward you. (Proverb 25:21-22)

Remember Jesus' words:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

My wife does this with a natural grace that steals my breath away when I witness it. The problem is that some of those people she must be determined to love have been Christians for decades. It saddens my heart that she and anyone else must experience such things in the Church, the Body of Christ where Jesus is glorified by our love for each other. Yet, her example provokes in me a desire to learn to love with such determination, to never give up, to be willing to sacrifice to love those who hate me.

We give up too easily on this command to love our enemy. We give up usually after the first kindness is turned away. We certainly give up on the relationship when it produces no fruit after a couple of years. We treat relationships as if they must have some advantage for us, some benefit, something we can get out of it. Yet, I don't read anywhere that Jesus gave us permission to give up on love after a period of time. In fact, when Peter asked about forgiving an offending brother Jesus basically told him that forgiveness is infinite. That challenges me on a few different levels.

So yes, my wife may be young but she certainly surpasses me and a few others in a mature understanding of love. We are to love all people all the time, no matter the cost to us and no matter their reaction. I see some repenting in my very near future. May Jesus be glorified in all of our relationships, even the ones that seem to have no benefit.

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