Chivalry in love has nothing to do with the sweetness of the appearance. It has everything to do with the tenderness of a heart determined to serve.
This idea began to take root in my heart and in my head and I will follow this thought process throughout this series on marriage. Because I believe that it is true. And because I believe that there is no easy way for true romantic love to flourish except through sacrifice.
Our example is Christ and His church--and what stronger example of sacrifice and sacrificial love can there be? Even before we loved Him, He loved us . . . even when we scorned Him, spurned Him, spit upon Him . . . He loved us.
I have to ask myself this as a woman and as a wife and as a follower of Christ--
How much am I willing to suffer, to give, to die to myself for the ones that I say that I love--
Nowhere is this more played out than in the marriage relationship.
The same goes for men--for husbands--and I believe, on a mystical level, they will answer to the Lord more strongly as the head of their families under Christ--
How much am I willing to suffer, to give, to die to myself for my wife?
Only when we can give everything, as Christ did, on the cross of Calvary, will we fully arrive. And never on this earth, or in this life, will we fully arrive . . . and that is where grace comes in.
We will never fully arrive. But if our hearts beat with the heartbeat of Christ, if His love flows through our veins, and there is life--than we will strive to be like Him. Here. In the now. In this moment with my husband or with my wife.
We have the gift of the Spirit of God. He enables us to become more and more like Christ. And the more that we become like Christ, the more we will arrive, the more we will love, the more we will see our shortcomings and cry out for grace. We will never arrive but we are arriving.
Defensiveness in our relationships is usually a sign that we have not humbled ourselves, have not been humbled enough--when we argue and we fume and we rationalize our actions, we show that we are lacking something of grace--the grace of humility.
The most tender, sensitive men are the first to admit that they are not always tender and sensitive. The most gracious, gentle woman is the first to admit that she is not always gracious and gentle.
Humility is the door to obedience and only when we stoop low can we enter the vastness of God's grace on the other side, in the great pasture of obedience and love.
Real love, real romance begins with humility. It begins with losing ourselves and putting on Christ. The most handsome men are the ones who serve, not the ones who work out at the gym and drive shiny cars. The most beautiful women are the ones who put other's needs first and forget about themselves in the blessedness and freedom of serving and loving purely. The most spiritual men and women are not those with the most theological head knowledge, but those who walk in daily obedience to Christ.
The degree of love that we have for others is proportionate with the degree that we are willing to suffer for their sake.
"Love suffers long and is kind." (I Corinthians 13:4 NKJV)
Real love has to be willing to sacrifice in order to mirror the love of Christ.
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:10 NKJV)
Because Christ suffered for us--God Himself, who is Love, suffered for our sakes--suffered because He loves us, suffered so that we may be holy and pure and one with Him.
So we take Him as the Example in our relationships, as the way to know what real love is and how to practice it.
There are no gimmicks when it comes to real love. Not even spiritual ones. We love well when we serve. We love well when we suffer. We love well when we abide in the vine. We love well when we die to ourselves and live to God.
This is what brings breath and life and passion and grace into our marriages, into our relationships. Oneness with Christ and the joy that only self-giving brings. Death that brings life.
And so I head into this series on marriage and relationships with a bit of trepidation. Because I know that I have not arrived. But by God's grace, I am arriving. And so I write.
~Part One Next Week~
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