Would you give your life for the one you love?
The marriage of a man & woman is likened by the Apostle Paul to the relationship between Christ & His Church, between God and Israel. Jesus said that 'greater love has no one than this, to lay one's life for his friends'. He said this just before stretching out His arms in His great Love and dieing in the stead of His People on the cruel cross of Calvary. Paul wrote, near the end of his letter to the Church at Ephesus, that the marriage of a man & wife was analogous of Christ & His Church. Before he penned these famous, though somewhat enigmatic words, he also wrote that, as Jesus gave Himself for His Bride, so a man should be prepared to give his life for his bride! Earlier in this same letter, in the man-made division we call chapter five, Paul wrote that 'Christ has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma'!
Having spoken somewhat disparagingly of 'this modern love', this feeling part of love, in the past, I cannot deny its very real presence & even needful existence! Love, as I've written in the past, is 'A Many Splintered Thing'! It is also a very necessary thing; if the feelings aren't there, then we won't show those non-existent feelings through our actions. Again, we must understand that a love based on feelings is no love at all, for Scripture tells us that 'lover never fails'. If our love for a spouse, friend, etc, is based on feelings that are subject to change, then as go the feelings, so goes the love. A love, however, that is based upon the Love of God is a love that will last, for we know that God does not change!
Februation, which is inextricably linked to our month February, means 'purification by a religious ceremony', or 'sacrifice'! Interesting that the 14th day of this month, February, was chosen all those yeas ago as the month in which to celebrate undying love! Okay, so for the most part nowadays, it is given over to mushy-gushy feelings, along with having become just another commercial sales day ( probably one of the biggest of the year ), but it's still, in theory, all about the love!
Love means sacrifice! It doesn't necessarily involve the giving up of biological life for the continued existence of another, though this can and does happen, but it involves anything from simply handing her ( or him ) the remote, to deferring to the object of your love when it comes to where to live! Feelings are involved with every decision! Unless you let those feelings rule your life, rather than living by our Heavenly Father's Law of Love, those feelings are a good thing! Again, if the feelings aren't there, we won't practice Love; we're simply doing our duty! ( this is not to say that there's anything wrong with doing your duty, either )
Humans are creatures of emotion, and that means feelings! Some humans are more emotional than others, and some can stifle or even suppress their emotions to the point that they seem to have no emotions at all. Emotions can be a good thing ( women love an emotional man ), or it can be a bad thing ( if you're too emotional though, you may be discarded as a 'wet rag' ). Seriously though, our emotions, if not checked, will get us in trouble. If we feel too strongly about a certain matter, we could end up losing our shirt over it, in a manner of speaking, but on the other hand, if we don't stand for something, as 'they' say, 'you'll fall for anything'!
Getting back to the subject, that of sacrificial Love, if we do not feel the love of God in our lives, we will not share that Love with anyone, much less our spouse! Scripture says that 'we love [ Him ], because He first loved us'. Is it possible to practice love without knowing Love? Can we know Love without feeling Love? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 'you can tell someone you love them till you're blue in the face, but if you don't show them you love them, how can they know?'
One of the most, in fact, probably the most famously quoted portion of Scripture, John 3:16, says that 'God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life'. God showed His Love for His Creation by sending His only Beloved Son so that we, His Bride, might live. What Amazing Love, what Limitless Grace!
In this month of Purification & Sacrifice, let us determine to live our lives sacrificially, knowing that we, the people of God, have been cleansed & purified!
As we practice Sacrificial Living, let us always remember that 'Love knows no bounds'; Love is not metered out according to race, color or religion ( some would say 'sexual preference', as well ), but Love gives without asking or expecting, in hopes only of blessing, for it truly is 'more blessed to give than to receive'!
Charles Haddon Shank