Philemon 1:1-25 & Philippians 1:1-4:23
The following is an excerpt from our book True Intimacy.
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Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
In the beginning, when God was creating the universe, He declared “it is good” over each creation until He got to man. At which point God says “it is not good for man to be alone”. And while I could come up with plenty of jokes about why men should not be alone, the point is that it’s not good for women to be alone either. As women, we were created for companionship; and therefore, we are constantly craving intimate interactions. Often we attempt to fill the gap with friends, co-workers and digital media like texting and Facebook only to deny ourselves the one thing we are actually craving. Truly intimate companionship with our HUSBANDS!
Gen 3:16 tells us, among other things, that as women we will “desire” our husbands. That word “desire” in the Hebrew is packed with significance. It’s not just a physical desire; it’s an all encompassing, the-two-shall-become-one, kind of desire. You know the way you feel naked without your purse or your phone? THAT’S the kind of desire it talks about, one where your whole being desires true intimacy from your husband and you just feel like you’re missing something when it’s not there. It’s a desire for a true love from him; where he loves you simply because you are who you are. Not because you’ve done great things, or because you’ll be rich and famous someday, but just because you’re you. We desire a love that goes beyond anything that anyone could ever really describe; one where, you complete each other so perfectly that it can get annoying at times.
As a husband and wife we are symbols of Christ and His Church; which means that within marriage we are to love each other as Christ loves us. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul explains to us not just why we should love others, but how God loves us as well. He tells us that
“If [we] speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, [we] have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If [we] have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if [we] have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, [we are] nothing. And if [we] give all [our] possessions to feed the poor, and if [we] surrender [our bodies] to be burned, but do not have love, it profits [us] nothing. (1-3)
Basically what Paul is telling us is that we can do as many great and wonderful things as we want, but if we’re not doing them because we love someone enough to do them, then we might as well save our breath and time because they’re meaningless. I can type as many kind and beautiful words as I want, but if there’s no love behind them – what’s the point? If I know all sorts of things that can change people’s lives forever, it’s not going to amount to a hill of beans if I don’t have a heart for those people first. I can give away every single material possession and if I’m not giving them away with love in my heart then I might as well keep them. Paul is making us ask, “What is my motive?”.
Paul ends 1 Corinthians 13 with a profound statement that I think is being greatly overlooked in our culture today, especially in marriages. “But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (v. 13) LOVE. Why love? What makes love so special? Why is it more important than faith or hope? Because while faith and hope are crucial, important and good; GOD is love. So when everything else in this entire world fades away, love is all that’s left. Because love – when it’s a truly patient, kind, non-envious, humble, courteous, selfless, calm, forgiving, truth rejoicing, protective, trusting, hopeful, persevering, never failing love – it’s God.
Don’t confuse love with lust. Our world today has these two terms completely distorted. The type of love God wants is outward love. It is to be directed towards others, not inwards towards ourselves. You must set aside your own wants and desires. Love others, and don’t expect anything in return.
All that sounds great, but how do we do it? Easy, love with no holds barred. Love with all you have. Don’t have selfish reasons for loving. Do things out of love for someone, not for the things it could get you. Plain and simple, love for the sake of love.