Giving of self is much more than giving of stuff. Giving of self is a willingness to be engaged emotionally with the other person. It means being open, honest and vulnerable. Giving of self means you do not withhold your affection or your body from your spouse. “But I don’t feeeeel love for him anymore!” The truth about all these feelings toward your husband is this: Feelings of love follow acts of love. One of the common phrases I hear in couples counseling is, “I don’t love him anymore.” What was a relationship at some point has disintegrated into something that is completely selfish. She spends her time waiting for him to worship her and he is waiting for her to wait on him because they only serve themselves. They give little thought to the other person in the marriage. Our challenge in counseling is to help them to see that when you act like you love someone, and treat them like you love them, and serve them like you love them feelings of love will follow. Society has totally warped the concept of love to be all about feelings. When these thoughts are promoted, “love” becomes self-oriented. It becomes the “all about me” syndrome. Rather than being action oriented and service driven and have the focus be on someone or something other than self, what is commonly described as love is both sinful and fruitless. Anything that focuses exclusively on me and what can be done for me is sinful. It is idolatry. Nothing good can ever come from such selfish thoughts, beliefs, and desires. What fruit that is produced will be rotten. Another wrong concept of love is that it just happens. Perhaps the initial attraction that draws you together feels like it just happens, but that discounts God’s sovereignty over mankind. People talk about love at first sight. They make it sound as though being a beautiful woman and handsome man is enough to make a 60 year commitment. Love and marriage are not passive, requiring no effort or upkeep. Even a washing machine needs maintenance folks. Experiencing a fulfilled marriage is not a passive activity; it doesn’t just happen! It takes time, sacrifice and the willingness to learn your partner. Marriage is completely others oriented. When a person reveals selfishness before marriage I would have a hard time endorsing marriage for them. It is consigning their spouse to a lifetime of misery. When marriage is others oriented there is much fruit bearing and that brings happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment and the other things that we expect when we say “I do.” Each spouse is content in the marriage, and there is joy and peace between them. An other’s orientation seeks the welfare and fulfillment of your spouse. Each person is seeking the best for the other rather than self. God is greatly glorified by this way of life. It displays His love for the church (Eph. 5:25) which was entirely sacrificial and cost Him everything. This kind of marriage is the one everyone wants, where both husband and wife are committed to each other fully. They think the best of each other, and serve each other. Biblical love is costly- requires giving of self, time, interest, thought, consideration, money, creativity, or your own life! They are all costly to our pride because they cause us to deny self. Jesus was clear in His example, He laid down His life. Until you reach that point, you haven’t done enough.
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