Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Definition of Love

“Love is giving sacrificially for the good of another, that doesn’t demand reciprocation or that the other person is deserving.”  Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp
I’m guessing that if you did an internet search on the term love you could come up with dozens of definitions.  However, I am particularly fond of the definition penned by Paul Tripp because it is based on Christ’s demonstrated love for us.

Sacrificially for the good of another

If I give something sacrificially it implies there is a cost to me.  It could be monetary, it could be my time, my comfort, etc.  If what I do is for the good of another it suggests that there is a recipient who benefits from my sacrifice.  Christ’s death on the cross would certainly meet the definition.

Doesn’t demand reciprocity

This suggests that there are no hidden agendas.  I am not expecting to get anything in return.  The individual owes me nothing.  This is a one sided transaction. 

The other person may not be deserving

Now you’re pushing the envelope too far.  Do you mean to tell me that I should do something that is costly to me, for the good of another, without expecting something in return AND the person may not even deserve such treatment from me.  That’s insane.  That’s also true love.  That is the love that our Savior displayed for us.

In practice

I should willingly put my wife’s wishes and desires ahead of my own, assuming that by doing so she will benefit.  And I must not expect anything in return, not even that she be nice to me.  Sign me up for that program!
And the Lord says “You did sign up for that program.  It is called a covenant marriage.  Remember the for better or worse thing, the in sickness and in health part, or the for richer or for poorer vow – what did you think that was all about?”

“Yes but..” seems like a totally inadequate response to the one who died an excruciating, humiliating death on the cross, not to mention being forsaken by Father.  Marriage is to reflect the Son’s relationship with His bride the church.  He sacrificially gave His life so that I might have eternal life, knowing that there is nothing I could do for Him, and that I am definitely not deserving.

Please send me your definition, almost anything has to be easier than this one.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Gospel Centered Approach to Conflict - Part III

Perhaps you were able to identify your typical approach to conflict by reading Part I and/or Part II of this series.  So now what?

What if God uses conflict in your life and specifically in your marriage to make you more like His Son?  Consider Galatians 5:13-15 states:

 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

For those of you who tend to be “attackers” reflect on a great line from Paul Tripp, “You will never know the peace of the King if you are trying to be the king.”  You have elevated your needs, your desires, your wants and your expectations to take precedence in your life.  Turn your self-centeredness over to God. 

For those of you who tend to be passive and withdraw, you are doing yourself and your spouse a disservice. God has designed marriage with the intent that we help one another to grow spiritually.   As an “avoider” and people pleaser I have spent much of my life running from conflict.  It has not served me or my God well.

Again drawing from the wisdom of Paul Tripp, he defines love as “a willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that doesn’t demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.”

If you are an attacker there is no willing self-sacrifice, your domination is not for the good of the other but for your perceived good.  No reciprocation is needed because you are taking and not giving anything.  Your actions are only a love of self, not the other.

If you are a withdrawer you are sacrificing willingly but for self-centered reasons.  You want to avoid pain, to appease and keep the peace at all costs.  That is not for the good of the other but for your good.  You aren’t demanding reciprocation; you don’t expect anything, though you desire to avoid conflict.  You are not avoiding conflict out of your love for the other person but out of love for yourself.  Most likely bitterness and resentment has or will set in.

Whether you are an attacker or an avoider it is all about you, your needs and your comfort.  Being other-centered is one of the best ways to resolve conflict, however that doesn’t mean just giving in to the other.  It means going to the effort to truly understand one another’s position and attempting to arrive at a solution that would be pleasing to God.