Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Love Really Means

Explore the foundation

When couples come to me for pre-marital counseling, I sometimes ask: "Why do you
want to get married?" They always seem to give me the big reason; and the big reason
is always the same. What do they say? "We love each other." Then I ask a very unfair
question: "Tell me, What do you mean by that?" There is silence. Then, one will
say, "Oh... you know!"
I guess maybe I do know. I think they are talking about a euphoric emotion that
makes them oblivious to reality. They are the happiest they have ever been. What
they don't know is that the euphoric feelings will last for two years and then
they must find another foundation for marriage. Wouldn't it be better to explore
that foundation before they get married?

What is love?
One definition says, "Love is the feeling that you feel when you feel a feeling
like you've never felt before." If that is your definition of love, I can tell you,
that kind of love will never lead you to a life-long marriage. The euphoric feelings
are temporary. It is interesting that in Eph. 5:25, husbands are commanded to love
their wives. If the intense feelings of love were permanent, why would God command
a husband to love his wife?

The fact is, the euphoric feelings are not permanent and love is not a feeling, but an attitude,
with appropriate behavior. Love is the attitude which says, "I'm married to you,
so what can I do to help you? Love is choosing to be kind, and supportive. Is that
your attitude?

Love as a way of life
Most people get married based on love. However their concept of love often focuses
on feelings. I read one definition which said, "Love is a four-letter word composed
of two consonants, L and V; two vowels, O and E; and two fools, you and me." There
is some truth to that, and fools often make poor decisions.
In the Bible, love is not a euphoric feeling, but a way of life. In Titus chapter
two, the older women are instructed to teach the young wives to love their husbands.
This implies that love can be learned. It is not something that happens to you.
It is something you choose. Once you choose to love, then you look for appropriate
ways to express it
This kind of love will lead you to a life-long productive marriage.

Learning to love
"I don't love her anymore." How many times have I heard that in my office! What
is that supposed to mean? Usually, it means that he has lost the euphoric feelings
he had for her when they got married. And that their differences have emerged and
ended in arguments. The fact is, everyone loses the euphoric feelings. They usually
last for only two years.
Then, we must learn to love. We must choose to treat each other with respect. We
must listen to differences of opinion and try to find a solution. We must learn
to work together as a team; using our differences for the benefit of the team.
This attitude is commanded by God.

Love that makes marriage enjoyable
Would you like to know what love looks like in a marriage? Then, turn to  I Corinthians
chapter 13
. Listen to these words: "Love is patient and  kind; is not arrogant or
rude; It does not insist on it's own way; it is  not resentful; Love does not bring
up past failures, but chooses to  forgive." Does this describe your attitude and
treatment of your spouse?
This  is the kind of love that makes for happy marriages. Love focuses on  meeting
the needs of the spouse; helping them succeed; listening to  their thoughts and
feelings.  In short, it is giving your life away for  your spouse. That is precisely
what Christ did for us, and it is what  husbands are instructed to do for their
wives. Love is powerful.

Share your questions, thoughts, insights, or comments:

Pastor Eric Otieno,
The Senior Pastor of Deliverance Church,
Bombolulu, Mombasa.