“Huh? Why do you say we don’t know how to love, Steve? I love my spouse, I love my kids (most of the time), and I love and have loved many other people in my life. And, of course, I love the Lord!”
Good for you. But look at all the other people in the world that don’t know how to love. The terrorists can’t possibly love with all that hatred in their hearts. Oh, they may like, they may lust, they may even really adore, but I don’t believe they can possibly love, not like we learn from God, when they do such horrible things.
Read the Dear Abby, the Ask Amy, or whomever is the advice columnist in your local paper. I can’t count how many times I have read something along these lines:
I have been with this person for x years and s/he is hateful and cruel. I am yelled at for not doing anything, then yelled at for doing something wrong, even when it is exactly as they told me. I am scared of being hurt, he has had three affairs and drinks too much. She spends our money and I have seen her name on multiple dating sites. There are emails with co-workers that are sexually explicit. But they’re really a wonderful person and I love him/her. What do I do?
You are with someone who cheats, is brutish, scares you, is having affairs, keeps secrets, wastes your money and drinks too much, but you think they’re wonderful, love them and just don’t know what to do? OY!!
Look- love does not conquer all. To be in any relationship where you are considered second class and mistreated is not only a sin the other person commits against you, but is also a sin you commit against yourself! I am not saying to ditch your main squeeze at the first sign of trouble, and we are married for better or worse, but that doesn’t include debasement, infidelity, and abusiveness. These things need to be handled. Even Yeshua, who stood up for the sanctity and holiness of marriage, said that infidelity is a reason for divorce. And Shaul told us that if we are in a relationship that is unevenly yoked the Believer is allowed to leave, but only if the non-Believer wants that. He goes on further to say that they should stay together because the one may be saved by the other, but not if your safety is threatened.
This confusion about relationships, which is so prevalent it sends the love columnist’s kids through college, is rampant because reading the Bible is a rarity. God tells us how to treat each other, and through the writings of the Prophets and some of the Epistles of Shaul, we can see clearly how God loves us and how we should, thereby, love each other.
God’s love is unconditional, but not enabling. He will punish us when we are wrong and He will allow us to choose our own fate. He will protect and nourish us when we are faithful, and when we reject Him He will allow us to be on our own. But He still loves us and is always willing, and hopeful, that we will repent of our sins and turn back to Him.
The Torah shows us how God’s love is unconditional, but His blessings and presence are. We must obey and remain obedient in order to have His constant protection and blessing. Reading the book of Judges, as well as the writings of the Prophets, Kings and Chronicles shows us how God has constantly shown His love, yet allowed us to wander, to prostitute ourselves with other gods (have an affair), mistreat and berate Him (by rejecting His laws) and be abusive (taking His name in vain, choosing to work on His holy days, even watching football religiously but never attending services or reading His word.)
God loves us and wants to be with us, always. He wants us to bask in His glory and be joyful. He also provides everything we need for this to happen. Then He has to watch us throw it all in the garbage, curse Him, ignore Him, reject and even forget about Him, totally. There are many who don’t even believe He exists. Yet, He still loves us.
However, He isn’t writing to Dear Abby saying, “I have created them, I gave them the Earth and everything in it, which I created for them, and I have nurtured, protected and kept them alive for millennia, yet they don’t care a whit about me! All they want to do is what they want to do- I tell them how to be happy and they choose not to; I tell them how to treat others and they spit in my face; I tell them to keep away from the Enemy because he will lead them to ruin and they laugh at me and follow him gladly. I love them and show them my love, yet they have affairs with other gods, like money, professional sports, career activities, and they prostitute themselves with gluttony and avarice and fornication. I just don’t know what to do, Abby.”
What do you think she would say? I’ll bet that getting professional help will be in there, somewhere.
Here’s what I’d like to see them say: “READ THE BIBLE, YOU DUMMY!! Get to know what love is and what love is supposed to be, and then go find it. You can’t be loved until you learn how to love, so read about God and learn how to love so you won’t be saddled with some schmo like the one you have.”
We need to do everything we can to save our marriage, to work with our steady love interest, and to make the relationships in our life worthy of God’s blessing. But it takes two to tango, and if you are the one doing all the work, and the other side is just not caring at all about you, your feelings or you needs, you are not in a healthy, Godly relationship. If the other side is not willing to change or even try, you need to realize that, just as God allowed His loved people to wander off and nearly destroy themselves in order to come to their senses, you need to allow your other half to do the same. You need to talk, offer compromise, go to counseling, and try hard. If this is something the other side says he or she is willing to do, then be patient, show the truest form of loving in that you will abide by that person and help them, even if they are being somewhat cruel to you, and forgive them as long as they really want to change and ask for it.
If none of that is happening, though; if the other person is unwilling to try, unwilling to listen or care about you, and unwilling to love you as you should be loved, then let them do what they want to do, but let them do it on their own. The books I mention above show that God, despite His love for us, despite His unbelievable level of compassion and forgiveness, and despite His willingness to overlook our past and our many sins against Him, still underwent a series of “trial separations” from His people. He left His bride alone, naked and wallowing in her own vomit, exposed and ravaged by her enemies until she realized her wrongdoings and asked for forgiveness, promising to do as she should.
Then He gladly and joyfully accepted her back. Now that’s what love is.
In our relationship with God, we must be faithfully obedient, and in our relationship with each other, we must be loving, compassionate, forgiving and treat each other as we would want to be treated.
If you aren’t getting that in your relationship today, forget Dear Abby or Ask Amy and go to the Bible. See what God says, and bring that book to your other half. Follow what God does, what Shaul tells us love should be, and stand up for yourself.
I am not saying to call a divorce lawyer. I am saying we should all know what love is, as God tells us and not what people say. People are stupid, self-centered and sinful. People are obstinate, stiff-necked and selfish. People are always trying to get something for themselves, people are…well, they’re people!
As someone once told me: Humanity is a wonderful thing- it’s the people that ruin it.
Learn about how to love from the one who created it, who set the standards, and who is a constant source of renewal and strength: Adonai.
If you are looking for love and not finding it in your life or your relationship, stop looking around and start looking up. God is always there to show you how He loves you, and to give you the love you want. Once you have that, then you can go find it in the world because you will know what to look for.