Originally published Monday, 08 August 2016.
Over and over again we are told that the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s directions for us is to love God and love people. As we mature in the Scriptures, we grow to learn what it really looks like to love people, but on a very basic level, love isn’t self-centered. We might have to learn the fine art of loving with truth, and loving with boundaries. But at the foundation of love in every context, is a heaping measure of selflessness.
It’s much harder to live in love than I wish it was. It’s not easy allowing people and their needs to dance in and out of my days. It isn’t easy to drop what I finally got a moment to focus on and flex to accommodate something I’m supposed to feel is a divine appointment, but feels an awfully lot like another interruption. Sometimes we are called to filter out people’s needs and ask the question, “Is God calling me to this?” But when it’s my kiddo or my husband, I can be pretty sure, God’s calling me to it.
When our little man was tiny I was so tired and I remember letting a worn out groan escape from my lips as I got up to go rescue him from his baby-upset yet again. I felt the Lord nudge my heart and say, “Don’t make him feel like an imposition.” No he wouldn’t remember that mom groaned and moaned from time to time, but we were building the foundation of our relationship and he would remember how my care of him felt. I think the same goes for our husbands, too. Our words, tone, body-language, etc can make our family feel like they are an imposition, instead of making them feel loved.
Women are instructed to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). We all probably know that one. Nothing new there. But the interesting thing is that the Greek uses a certain word for love to describe God's heart for the way we women are to love our families. It's with a phileo or affectionate love. It’s not the go-to-the-cross kind of sacrificial love. It’s a touchy-feely love. I think most moms and wives out there have a natural mother bear instinct. I know I do. I’d die protecting my family in an instant. Give any organs or bone marrow in a second. But it can be so hard to make dinner cheerfully and lovingly when I’m flustered. It can be so hard to load everyone and everything in the car with love and tenderness when we are late. It can be so hard to wipe up the epic food explosion after I just, finally, got the carpets shampooed. But that’s where we practice love. In the daily little things. And as we practice love, as we choose to hold onto God’s grace that brings His love in and through us. It's in these small, significant ways we invite His Spirit to reign in our hearts and our homes more freely.
So how can you practice affectionately loving your husband today? How about your kids? Ask them what makes them feel your affection! Pray for God to give you insight into how you can lavish affection on your family the same way He loves you! (And in case you need a fresh reminder of how much God does indeed love you, here's a Love letter from the Lord to you.)
This is part three of this eight part series: Walking in the Spirit for Your Family.