Happy Valentine’s Day!
Imagine your best family friend and mentor was a skilled physician. If someone in your family got seriously ill, your doctor friend would be the first person you’d call. And though your friend had other responsibilities, you’d expect him to come as soon as he could.
Mary and Martha must have felt that way when Lazarus was sick. Jesus was not a doctor, but He was a healer. He was their friend. They knew He was the Messiah, though they didn’t understand fully how His role would work itself out. But they had every reason to expect that Jesus would come to them right away.
But He didn’t.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5-6).
Knowing that Lazarus was ill, and the family wanted Him to come, Jesus delayed. He didn’t wait an hour or a day. He waited two days.
What struck me in my recent reading of this familiar passage was the little word “so.” The passage doesn’t say, “Jesus loved them, but he stayed.”
It doesn’t say, “In spite of the fact that Jesus loved them, He delayed.”
Instead, “He loved them. So He waited.”
He waited because he loved them.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Lazarus dies before Jesus comes. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been in the tomb four days. Mary and Martha are crushed and greet Jesus with, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
Why didn’t He come before Lazarus died and save everyone the heartache by healing him?
Jesus told the disciples, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”
Jesus told Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?“
Just before He raised Lazarus, He prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
He wanted them to know who He was and believe in Him. The disciples and Mary and Martha knew, but He wanted to manifest Himself to them in deeper ways. The crowd was a mixture of people, many of whom did not know Him yet.
Jesus had healed a girl not long after she died and a young man at his funeral. But someone could have said, “Maybe they weren’t really dead in the first place. Maybe He just revived them.”
But Lazarus had been buried for four days. When Jesus told men to roll away the stone in front of the tomb, Martha objected because of the odor that would arise from his corpse. There’s no question that Lazarus was actually dead.
Jesus could have performed a miracle to heal Lazarus beforehand. But He performed a greater miracle by raising him from the dead, that His friends might be strengthened in their faith and that others might believe.
Jesus’ raising of Lazarus was a precursor not only of Jesus’ future resurrection, but of that of all believers. How many people through the ages have been comforted by what Jesus told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Jesus showed His love in other ways as well.
He came to Mary and Martha though His life was in danger. When Jesus told the disciples He was going to Judea, they reminded Him the Jews there wanted to stone Him. When He insisted, Thomas was so sure of danger that he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus was “deeply moved” and wept, even though He was about to raise Lazarus. “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Hebrews 2:17).
We often want to remove all the hard places from the lives of those we love. As parents especially, we want to make things as easy as possible for our children. And that’s not a wrong desire. But it’s often through the hard things that we grow in our faith and in our character. “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). That doesn’t mean we go too far the opposite direction and heap hard things on them. We need God’s wisdom and balance.
God doesn’t take away all the hard parts of life. He uses them to deepen our knowledge of Himself, strengthen our faith, to mature us, to comfort us that we may comfort others.
“Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:32-33).
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
Here are some of the articles that resonated with me this week:
Love Is a Skill, HT to Challies. “Anyone who has tried very hard to love other people well will know that love doesn’t always feel very natural. A lot of times it feels more like hard work.”
The Problem with Reading the Bible Verse-by-Verse, HT to Knowable Word. The verses divisions, subheadings, footnotes, charts, etc., in most of our Bibles “break up the text into little chunks (often arbitrarily), and we do not naturally read in little chunks, we read in big chunks. You read ordinary books section by section, not word by word, but all the footnotes and verse numbers condition us to read the Bible verse by verse.” Those tools are good for study later, “but the first and most important rule for interpreting and appropriating any biblical book is to actually read the book.”
Dig Deeper, HT to Challies. “Think of the scriptures like a fancy layered dessert — maybe a cake or parfait. There are several layers, and each offers new delights. If you don’t dig down into all the layers, you’re missing out.”
A Call for Endurance and Faith, HT to Challies. “We are not without encouragement in times like these, and sometimes the call for endurance comes in ways that seem strange to the contemporary churchgoer who has enjoyed religious freedom all their lives.”
What Does God Want of Me? HT to Challies. “But what I do remember are the three questions that came out of this difficulty, questions that my husband raised in the midst of this trial to help provide us with direction and guidance. These questions have stayed with me ever since, and have given me clarity and lessened my burden in a wide variety of situations: problems with children or other family members, issues in my marriage, dilemmas in church, personal trials, and more.”
Is Your Way Really God’s Way? ‘While the Bible is heavy on function (what we are to do) it is light on form (how we are to do it).” This article helps discern between form and function and the errors of insisting on our form of doing things.
Protecting Your Teenagers Online, HT to Proclaim and Defend. “We have a pool in our backyard. We also have young children. What steps do we take to protect them? 1. A fence; 2. Swim lessons; 3. Supervision.” Kristopher Schaal then applies these three levels of protection to internet usage.
Cultivating Attention: The Challenge of Reading Great Literature, HT to Linda. “As a literary critic, writer, and professor, I have the great privilege of working with literature every day, and helping others to encounter the beauty of great stories as well. Evangelization and discipleship through beauty is vitally important for our modern culture, for God is perfect Beauty as well as perfect Goodness and Truth. Stories, poetry, and all the arts can help us both to grow in our own faith and to share that faith with others in a compelling way . . . But it’s not easy. Many readers find themselves discouraged, encountering a gap between their desire to engage with great tales and the rather more difficult reality of the experience.”
Why the World Needs Readers (Like You), HT to Linda. “I’ll be honest. It’s in my own self-interest to say that reading is important. I am the author of a book blog, after all. But I believe—passionately—that reading is more than your average pastime. Much more. Here’s why I think that readers, people like you and me, are critical to preserving civilization—and helping it flourish.”
How an Introvert Does Thanksgiving, HT to Linda. “As a large and diverse group, we introverts love our families and the holidays no more or less than anyone else. So the fear and loathing with which we sometimes face this season is not an intro-aversion to the whole concept of family or holidays. It’s more the specifics of the experience that exhaust us; many of us are right now anticipating Thanksgiving with equal parts of delight and anxiety. Yes, pie. But also forced togetherness, lots of chitchat, and old family scripts replaying again and again. It’s a tradeoff. So, before the holidays flatten you like a runaway truck, perhaps take a minute to sort through their delights and the stresses to sketch out some strategies for Thanksgiving so you can enjoy more of the former and less of the latter.”
I Could Never Get Grandma’s Dressing Quite Right—Until She Was Gone, HT to Linda. “Back then I hadn’t yet learned that the most important thing about cooking for other people is the joy your food can bring them. . . .that on Thanksgiving, it’s a waste of time to roast a whole entire pumpkin for pie (the canned stuff is superior anyway!), and that investing in six great dishes is far better than churning out 12 I’m too exhausted to actually eat, and that turkey tastes approximately the same no matter what you do to it.”
Here are some good reads found this week:
Evaluating Evangelistic Phrases. “Sadly, much of what is called evangelism today lacks gospel clarity. Repentance and faith are often missing or muddied in many of our evangelistic endeavors. Over the years, a number of popular phrases, terms, and shorthand expressions have either watered down or replaced the Biblical response to the gospel.”
What Is the Gospel? HT to the above article. “What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’?” I especially like the definition of repentance: “To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.”
How Valuable to Me Is My Bible Today? “What would it feel like today not to own a Bible? What if I knew hardly anyone who did? What would I be willing to do to have one for myself?” Written by our beloved former pastor.
The Paradox of Parenting and How to Trust God More, HT to Challies. “From the moment our babies leave the safety and protection of the womb, we are literally and figuratively pushing them out. They can’t stay in the nest forever, and this brings us joy and sorrow. Isn’t this the paradox of parenting? The more we want to hold on to them, the more time reveals we have to keep letting them go, little by little.”
A Common Face, HT to Challies. “One of the best things my church’s women’s ministry does is to have someone share their testimony at our events. I am often stunned at what I hear from the ordinary women around me – women who quietly go about their everyday lives while harboring beautiful, compelling stories of God’s mercy. Why do we pander and scramble to hear the famous, successful and beautiful people speak, when God’s glory is just waiting to be displayed by the sisters and brothers around us?”
Sending Love, HT to Challies. “Sending Christ-like love means moving from the busy lane of one’s own life to enter the path of another, just as Jesus did when God sent Him to earth. It’s a selfless kind of love, not one from which the giver seeks to gain. And when such love is given, it brings blessed relief, casts hope over despair, and offers a glimpse of Christ.”
Church Membership–The Biblical Basis for It and Benefits of It. I enjoyed this creative look at what the church is and does and why we need to be a part of it.
A Message for Young Women. “Somewhere out there in the great, wide world, someone is praying for you. She probably doesn’t know you and you probably don’t know her. You may not meet one another for many more years. But she’s praying for you nonetheless and has been for a very long time. She is the mother of a son.”
Resources for Bible Study and Teaching. I came to this through a link from another post on the Knowable Word site.
Incredible performance. An annual meeting of high school choirs in KY led to a wonderful tradition.
I enjoy listening to parts of Stephen Davey’s sermons on the radio while my oatmeal is bubbling. I’m thankful he puts the transcripts online so I can catch the rest. He had a series of messages about David that I particularly loved. This section from last Tuesday (Feb 8) struck me:
And as we’ve already learned, being a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t mean you’re sinless. David was guilty of great sin against God and others.
Why could David be called a man after God’s own heart? Was it because David was perfect? No; it was because God was David’s priority.
Being a man or woman or a young person who pursues after the heart of God doesn’t have anything to do with your perfection – it has everything to do with your priority.
And that is exactly the priority that David wants to ring in Solomon’s ears for the rest of his life.
That’s what I want to ring in my children’s hearts as well. I think I put this verse somewhere in their graduation paraphernalia for each of them: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Some would say so. The reasoning goes that the Bible says God is Love. It doesn’t say God is doctrine. Therefore, love trumps doctrine.
Part of the confusion or disagreement comes from what is meant by doctrine. I’m using the word here as the truth God declares about Himself and His requirements for us.
And the Bible also says God is truth.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).
Some translations of Deuteronomy 32:4 say God is “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
Not only is God truth, but His Word is characterized as truth.
The psalmist declared, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).
Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
God wants us to respond to Him in truth.
Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
Most of the books of the Bible warn against false doctrine, false prophets, and false teachers in the strongest terms. It’s not loving to cut corners on truth for the sake of not sounding adamant. It’s not loving to God or to others to teach something untrue about Him or about how He wants us to live.
But it’s also not loving to bludgeon people with truth like a club.
And it’s wrong to elevate every little disagreement to the same level as doctrine. There are areas where we can’t give any ground: the deity and humanity of Christ, our need for salvation, Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, salvation by grace through faith, the resurrection, the Bible as God’s Word, and so on. But there are areas in Scripture where good people can disagree and should give each other grace. Too many Christians spend way too much time and effort on these issues than on declaring unequivocal truth and loving each other and the lost.
We don’t need to put love and doctrine in competition with each other. We need them both. Both are aspects of God, and both should permeate our lives.
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
It’s hard to find a story that doesn’t have romance in it. I don’t mind as long as the story itself has a meaty plot line. But I don’t read many books that are primarily romance. They seem to focus on all the tingles and end when the couple finally declares their love to each other. Tingles and the mushy-gushy stuff are fun. But they’re not the main component of love. And the real test and depth of love usually occur more in the “for worse” part.
Jesus told us to “love one another just as I have loved you” (John 13:34; 15:12). What’s more, He told us to go beyond loving those who please us or love us back, but also to love those who persecute us and hate us.
How can we do that? After all, He is God, and we are not. Oswald Chambers said in the My Utmost for His Highest reading for April 30, “The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally; it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
Once a missionary was troubled because she didn’t love others the way she knew she should. For years she berated herself with the need to be more loving, but she continually failed, leaving her continually discouraged. Finally she started to meditate on God’s love for her, and without realizing it, her life was transformed so much that people asked her husband what had happened to her.
Though I’ve lost track of this story’s source (I believe it came from Rosalind Goforth), it has always inspired me because I can identify with it so well. I’m frequently appalled at my selfishness and often tell myself “I need to be more loving.” But, like the missionary, I continually fail.
How can we love more like Jesus?
We’re changed to be more like Him as we behold Him. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
What are aspects of His love?
Initiative God loved us even before we knew Him, before we turned to Him, even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6). “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)
Gracious. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He loved us when we were most unlovable and undeserving. He didn’t wait for us to “clean up” or get “good enough.”
Sacrificial. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God gave not just a pittance, not just a fraction, but rather what was most dear to Him.
Active. The Father and Son love not just in word, but in deed. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Giving. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). That giving involved inconvenience, weariness, misunderstandings, false rumors, humiliation, pain, and death. He ministered to others when He was the only One who deserved to be ministered to.
Forgiving. “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10, NLT).
Kind. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:3-6).
Longsuffering. “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Numbers 14:18a).
Correcting. “My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12). God’s love is not indulgent. Sometimes love involves doing the hard thing of bringing sin to the surface so it can be dealt with.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant, a man was forgiven a massive debt. However, instead of extending that same grace that he had received to others, he withheld forgiveness of someone’s very small debt and exacted a penalty. That story opened up to me the realization that my forgiveness towards another isn’t based on whether or not they “deserve it.” I did not deserve forgiveness, either. My forgiveness of others should be based on the fact that God has forgiven me so much more than anything I have had to forgive.
It’s the same with God’s love. My love for others should be an overflow of God’s great love for me. He took the first step in loving me, so I should not wait on others to make the first move. His love came at a great sacrifice, so I should not be surprised when love costs me. He loved me at my most unworthy and forgave a multitude of my offenses, so how can I withhold love from others? When I meditate on His love for me, His love flows through me to others.
Once, in an effort to be more loving, I compiled verses about love. I was delighted to find prayers in the Bible for more love, and I pray them for myself:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19
It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (Philippians 1:9).
That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ (Colossians 2:2).
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Be Filled with the Spirit
Ephesians 5:5 tells us, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Part of the fruit of the Spirit is love, so when we’re filled with Him, we’ll be filled with His love.
Abide in Him
Trying to love as Jesus did will show us soon enough that we can’t do it in our own power. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. . . . If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:21, 23-24a). We don’t obey in order to earn God’s love—as was said earlier, God loved us even when we were His enemies. But when we know Him, we show our love by obedience. That makes sense: if we say we love someone but do the opposite of what they want or don’t take their desires into account, our profession rings hollow. The verses about abiding in Him in John 15 are sandwiched in-between passages about showing our love by obedience.
May we continually learn more of His love and show it to others.
What helps you most to love like Jesus?
(Revised from the archives)
(Sharing with Hearth and Soul, Sunday Scripture Blessings, Selah, Scripture and a Snapshot, Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Remember Me Monday,Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday,
Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)
My latest collection of thought-provoking reads:
Do Whites Need Corporate Repentance for Historical Racial Sins? HT to Challies. A thorough and well-thought-out response to this question. See also Are Daniel and Ezra models of corporate repentance for historic sins?
When Does Love Insist On Its Way? HT to Challies. What 1 Corinthians 13:5 does and doesn’t mean.
Five Ways God’s Anger is Not Like Ours, HT to Challies.
Why You Really Need to Pray for Your Pastor. “Pastors will continue to face unique difficulties until this pandemic is brought to an end (or fades away or kills us all or is determined to not be serious or…). There are many decisions still to be made, each of which will demand weighing and assessing any number of factors and each of which will be contested by at least some of the members of the church. ”
A Very Common Clash of Culture, HT to Challies. The different ways East and West view time and respect could lead to misunderstandings.
Wearing the Masks of Freedom and Love. “We have rights, but we also have responsibilities. When did we forget the responsibility side of the equation? Our love of freedom causes us to make wise choices to keep each other safe.”
Life as an Every Day Hero. “We need selfless heroes today more than ever. We need people to step up and care for each other. We need it to become a way of life, a matter of course.”
19-Month-Old Boy’s Point of View, HT to The Story Warren. This is cute. A dad let his toddler use his camera.
7 Levels of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Impressive!
Here’s my latest collection of thought-provoking reads:
Eleven Practices for Growing Love.
Could a Lack of Purpose Be Stealing Your Joy?
Anxious for Nothing: Addressing the Worry I Can’t Explain, HT to Challies. This is what I wish more people understood about certain types of anxiety and panic attacks: that they’re not a deliberate violation of Phil. 4:6-7 or worry about anything in particular. Some good thoughts about dealing with anxiety.
Intersectionality and the Church, HT to Challies. This post explains the term and demonstrates why it doesn’t work for the church.
Jesus, the Prostitutes, and Transgender Outreach, HT to Challies. “We must never assume that Jesus’ loving welcome of prostitutes indicates the slightest endorsement or toleration of their sin. Notice how Jesus explained his behavior: ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick’ (Mt. 9:12). Jesus said that he came to cure people of their sinful disorder – that is, to remove it and render them free from it – but not to promote or explore its experience. When he added, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Mt. 9:13), the mercy he offered was deliverance from sin to his righteousness.”
When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time, particularly in regard to modern technology.
I Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review and I Hope They Will Make You Laugh, HT to Challies. One-star reviews are often ridiculous, but never more so than these. Loved how this artist turned them around.
Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour tonight (bah, humbug).
And to end with a smile:
I’ve remembered what this speaker said for decades.
I don’t remember his main topic or even where I heard him. But at some point in his talk, he mentioned a husband forgetting his wedding anniversary. And then he said something like this: “Wives, don’t stand back with arms folded, tapping your foot, waiting to see if he remembers, and then lowering the boom when he doesn’t. Help him remember.”
How wise. “Getting after him” in some way—pouting, anger, silent treatment—will only make him feel guilty, maybe even defensive. And the day that’s supposed celebrate love turns into a negative experience. You might think, “Well, he ruined it first.” However, we can either redeem the situation or make it worse by our reaction.
My husband doesn’t usually forget special occasions. But this speaker’s advice filtered into my thinking to apply generally to how we deal with each other’s foibles. “Punishing” or getting back at each other or stewing in resentment compounds the negative and widens the breach. How can we work towards harmony and away from dissension?
Look for ways to help.
Perhaps a week or two before an anniversary (or birthday or whatever), we could casually say, “Do you want to do anything special on our anniversary?” We could even invite him to something we’ve planned.
This principle goes so much farther than marriage and anniversaries. It applies to any relationship. If a child constantly forgets a chore, instead of incessantly nagging, we can find another way to help them remember: a chore chart, a privilege after his work is done, etc. If a wife is constantly late, perhaps a husband can help the kids get their shoes on so that’s one less thing she has to do.
Confront kindly when necessary.
Does that mean we can never confront each other about a problem or tell another when he has hurt our feelings or offended us in some way? No, of course not. Working out these issues helps the relationship progress and get even closer—if the issue is handled in a kind, thoughtful, edifying way rather than an angry or punishing manner.
“Do unto others . . “
Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Would we want someone to scowl or withdraw if we failed them in some way? Or would we prefer a frank discussion? Would a preliminary reminder help, or would that seem like nagging?
Take into account different personalities and “love languages.“
Perhaps a husband shows love by working hard, keeping up with repairs at home, keeping the lawn mowed. Tell him how much you appreciate all of that—and then suggest that, just every now and then, flowers or candy or a nice dinner out or watching a romantic movie together would really make you feel special. Perhaps she showers you with gifts, but you’d really appreciate a compliment once in a while. There might not be a way for her to know that unless you gently and kindly tell her.
Choose what’s most important.
Perhaps he leaves things out of place. We might resent that he’s created even more work for us. We could tell him how debris around the house makes us feel. Or we could just pick it up.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).
Forbear and forgive.
None of us has to be doormats. We should never put up with abuse or outright sin. But we do have to accept that no one is perfect. (This article helps differentiate between things we shouldn’t let go).
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).
Build up instead of tearing down.
However we handle these issues, we need to keep in mind our goal. The aim isn’t “Everyone do everything my way”—or shouldn’t be. The goal is harmony, feeding and increasing our love for each other, and building one another up.
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19).
Sometimes a choir or musical group will sing in unison, but more often they sing in harmony. Different voices bring different tones and notes into play, yet the outcome is all the more beautiful for the differences that come together into a beautiful whole. It takes a lot to get to that place. The composer has to arrange the piece. The leader has to interpret it. The instrumentalists and singers all have to learn their parts. They have have to practice together several times. Some might be too loud or soft, too fast or slow at first. But finally, each individual part works together with the rest, and the effect can bring tears to our eyes.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).
What are ways you work towards harmony in relationships?
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday [Anita wrote about relationships this week, too, and brought out factors I hadn’t thought about], Global Blogging, Senior Salon,
Hearth and Soul, Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode, Recharge Wednesday,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)
Here’s my recent roundup of recommended reading for your reviewing relish. 🙂
Yes, You Can Trust the Four Gospels. Even When They Conflict. Argument against a new theory that posits the gospel writers wrote in a literary way, changing and even making up details to support their theme. This author did a lot of research and contends that, no, they reported facts..
Crumbling Into Compassion, HT to The Story Warren. Beautiful story of redemption and reconciliation.
Are You Too Sensitive? Sensitivity has its good and bad points.
People Are Hard to Hate Up Close. “Attributing these characteristics to those on the left or the right may give us the momentary thrill of self-righteous indignation, but it deepens the divide, fuels our anger, and keeps meaningful conversations from occurring.”
Are You Seeking Counsel or Gossiping? I’ve often wondered what exactly makes up gossip. It’s not just sharing when someone else did something wrong–the epistles do that. I’ve often wondered if it primarily has to do with intent. This post has some good guidelines.
The Advance of the New Legalism, HT to Challies. I have seen wisps of this: “We are prone to seeing our way of doing things as a good way (which it might well be). But what we consider a good way soon becomes the best way (which, still, it could be). Only, the best way quickly gets called the right way which, soon enough, becomes the only way that, in turn, becomes synonymous with a biblical mandate (at least, in our minds).”
Leave “Always” and “Never” Out of Your Marriage. I came across that advice early on, and it probably saved us trouble.
What Do Hit Men and Porn Watchers Have in Common? “So what about those people who watched the video? If they watched a person being raped for their entertainment, surely they are complicit in that rape, aren’t they?”
The Way to Good Judgment. Is it only through experience, and bad experience at that? Nope.
The Best Way to Give Generously, HT to Lisa. “I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that the gifts I give of myself are frequently stingy and laced with traces of criticism, if not outright begrudging. Here’s where we have the chance to offer ourselves grace, though, recognizing that when God highlights one of His attributes for us like this, He’s giving us an opportunity to do things differently.”
Finally, a thought for carrying Valentine’s Day love into everyday life: