There are a lot of things we say and do that we justify when there is no justification for it. We can reason away anything so we can do what we want to do. We can get away with whatever we want to get away with as long as we forget that God knows every motivation of our heart. We can even make the Bible say what we want it to say. We need to stop it.
Yesterday I said that every act against God can be traced back to a selfish heart. Every act against our neighbour can be traced back to a selfish heart. How much easier then is it for us to justify acts of hatred in a family? Just look at what husbands and wives do to each other with the emotional games they play on each other, justifying it within their self-centered world and even believing that God is on their side. These are two people who have made a covenant with each other, with God as their witness, to love each other until death separates them. Love does not play games. Love is not selfish. We should understand that it is in a relationship of love, trust, mutual understanding that these two people become an incredible spiritual force.
God hates divorce.
Those are Jesus' words. He said that there were some circumstances that God would tolerate divorce but tolerate is a long cry from support or encourage. It is amazing the acrobats we go through to try to fit within the criteria in order to justify our selfishness. I should know, I write this as a divorced man.
In most cases there are no innocent parties in divorce. We all make choices and have to live with those choices. In the case of divorce, selfishness took over at some point. Hearts got set against each other because someone wanted something that put them above the needs of the other person. Maturity, good spiritual maturity, would cause both people to set aside their own needs for the needs of the other person. Not easy but it is the thing that would please and honour the God who they say they love more than any other.
The problem is, once selfishness gets in and we start justifying our emotions, it is difficult to turn back. It is true for any relationship. Once selfishness takes root we are in a lot of trouble. Our love for God should be enough to de-root anything before it takes hold, but in order to justify ourselves we have to distance ourselves from that love because no amount of self-justification could stand in the brilliance of that love.
It is a hard thing when we begin to allow emotions to take the lead because love goes beyond emotion; it is a decision,a commitment, a covenant. Solomon said this of marriage to his son:
You should be faithful
to your wife,
just as you take water
from your own well.
16 And don’t be like a stream
from which just any woman
may take a drink.
17 Save yourself for your wife
and don’t have sex
with other women.
18 Be happy with the wife
when you were young.
19 She is beautiful and graceful,
just like a deer;
you should be attracted to her
and stay deeply in love. (Proverbs 5:15-19)
It is the last part that stands out for me: "You should be attracted to her and stay deeply in love." That is a decision that has to be made every day. That is a commitment, to give your whole self to your wife. There is nothing here to say it is dependent on how she acts or if she loves you too. It is a one way charge. He is telling his son that he has the responsibility to stay attracted to his wife and to stay deeply in love with her over everything else. The only thing a husband should love more than his wife is God.
I will tell you right now, every day at least ten reasons will present themselves not to love your wife. There will be ten reasons that you will need to look at in the face and say, I love my wife in the way the Lord has loved me. It is my choice, the decision I make right now. Some days will be easy and other days will be hard but every day should end with the same result, being deeply in love with your wife. It does not depend on her; it depends on you. It doesn't matter how she acts, what she does or what she says, it is your responsibility to love her:
A husband must love his wife and not abuse her. (Colossians 3:19, CEV)
There is no justification to supersede this command. It is not a command of the law but of the heart of God. If we have accepted his sacrifice on our behalf, his faithfulness in the face of our unfaithfulness, his mercy and grace, his overwhelming love, then his expectation is that we will do the same for others; how much more our wives?
Sometimes we learn these lessons on the wrong end of things. In those cases, we allow his grace to carry us along as he picks us up, dusts us off, and we begin again. His grace is incredible but he will not put up with it being abused. He knows our hearts. He knows our schemes. He knows our motivations. It comes down to what Jesus said: If we love him we will do what he has commanded. Do we love him enough to see our selfishness put aside, to do the right thing and to allow love to be the command of the day?