In today’s world it is so easy to “show” your spouse that you love them. Hallmark has made a business of it. Jewelry commercials have, “I love you,” all over them. It is even easier to tell your spouse you love them. So easy, in fact, that many people have told their boss, friend or a complete stranger that they love them upon ending a phone call only to pause and turn red-faced in realization.
Everyone feels good when they hear those three little words, “I love you!” It brings a smile to a daughter, confidence to a son, emotional connection to a wife, and a sense of purpose to a husband. Saying it earnestly, honestly and often is important in any relationship. But just saying them isn’t enough. There has to be more behind the words. There has to be more in front of the words. These words need to be surrounded with more. But what is that? I mean, I love my wife (or husband), now what?
At this point, you may be thinking that love must include action. What was that old DC Talk song, “Love is a verb”? A husband bringing home flowers for his wife. A wife picking up or making her husband’s favorite cake for his birthday. We each could come up with numerous ways that love can be expressed through an action towards the other person. As important as it is to do actions to show your love, there is a different level of action that we want to focus on today.
This next level starts with a simple question, “I love my wife/husband, now does this thought/action/choice that I am about to make reflect that?” This is a question that could and should be asked multiple times throughout the day. As you can see, it includes but goes beyond the saying, “I love you!” It includes but goes beyond the actions of showing love. It gets to the core of the actions and words as it comes from the heart and goes to the thoughts inside the head.
It is different in each case. In one moment, being silent shows your love as you are there, supporting silently. In another case, silence can be so loud it it becomes worse than screaming and causes harm. Bringing flowers home to your wife is a simple act to show your love for her, unless she is deathly allergic to those flowers. The question is a case-by-case, moment-by-moment question.
Over and over, Jesus reinforces that He came not to abolish the law but to complete it. The law addressed actions, but Jesus applied it, truthfully, to our thoughts. Applying this question to our actions only is simply a small portion of what we do everyday. Think of the ratio of thoughts to actions that you have everyday. If you only apply something to the small portion of actions, you are barely making a dent. However, if you apply it to the thoughts first, then the actions will follow. There are a variety of quotes that go similar to, “sow a thought, reap an action, etc.” Thoughts are very important. They are the beginning of our actions.
God talks about His thoughts that He has for us as well as telling us He loves us and showing His love for us by sending Jesus to bear our sins upon the cross. But when He talks about His thoughts for us, they are too numerous for us to count.
Our thoughts always come out, through our words or by our actions. We can only disguise our thoughts for so long before they are revealed. Spend enough time with someone and you will start to learn what they truly think. “The good person out of the good treasures his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Our thoughts, if not controlled or bridled, can be destructive. The Bible tells us to, “gird up the loins of our mind.” (1 Peter 1:13) We are to contain them in order to keep them from causing harm.”We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6)
Consider the couple that everyone is certain is so in love because they absolutely look in love all the time, but all of the sudden, seemingly out of the blue, he has left her for someone else. His words and exterior actions that whole time gave the perception as though he loved his wife, but his true thoughts started to take root and ended up being revealed in the end. If the husband would have started asking himself if his thoughts showed his love for his wife before the affair started, then it wouldn’t have had a chance to take root. If he would have kept the smallest details in the light from the very beginning there would have been no opportunity for Satan to come in and bring in greater temptations.
Once you ask the question, you need to be honest with yourself and avoid the voices trying to justify the thought. “No, being short with my wife is not showing love, but she…” Or, “Well, talking one-on-one with this other man is just a innocent thing, no matter what it looks like.” A lady was overheard saying that she didn’t worry that her husband looked at other women and that she would start worrying if he stopped because he would be dead then. She was allowing the sin nature to direct his actions and justifying it saying that was what was showing that he was alive. We can’t allow ourselves to walk freely in one area of sin thinking that we can control the other paths it will lead us down.
Peter tells husbands to live with their wives with understanding. (1 Peter 3:7) An action may be innocent in itself, not necessarily showing or not showing love, but being more of a neutral action. However, we need to have understanding of how our spouse, or others, may perceive these actions.
One day, Rob grabbed his phone to go the bathroom. He had the solitaire app on his phone and used that to pass the time. When he came out, Jenna was visibly upset. Unknown to Rob, Jenna’s ex-husband had used that kind of time in similar fashion to text other women so when Rob grabbed his phone and headed for the bathroom, it triggered that memory for Jenna. Rob has had the chance to ask himself, does this action show my love for my wife and then was able to choose to leave his phone out so she can see it in order to build trust. He had to die to himself, letting entertainment go, in order to show love for his wife.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6)
If you are single, you might be thinking either “This doesn’t apply to me,” or “I hope I remember this when I am married.” But you can practice this right now. If you are desiring to get married, put yourself 5 years into your marriage and you are having a conversation with your spouse. The moment you are presently about to face comes up in that conversation and your spouse asks you what you did, why you did it, and what you were thinking in the moment. Would your truthful answers reveal your love for your spouse? Even if you didn’t know them at the time, your actions, words and thoughts can still reflect a love that you reserved for them alone.
If you are single and have no desire to marry, or remarry, then the simple question is this, “I love Jesus. Does this thought/action/word reflect that?” This is a question for everyone to ask. And as we reflect on this question as it applies to our spouse, child, parent, sibling or neighbor, we will find ourselves answering it as it applies to Jesus. Ultimately, He is the One we are aiming to please and the One we want to honor with our lives with not only our thoughts, but our actions which follow.
Can you think of an area this past week where you had a choice to make in how you would respond to a situation or conversation? Did your action reflect love towards the other person? What might you be dealing with today where you have the opportunity to be selfish or selfless? Your thought will affect your actions today, which will definitely affect your circumstances and your character in the future.