It’s always so exciting to discover something in the Word of God that’s been there all along for all to see; yet no matter how many times we’ve read it before, we didn’t see it! And that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend when Christian TV was on in the background and I just “happened” to hear someone quote John 3:16 (NASB); which as we ALL know so well just proclaims “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. I was totally stunned by the amplification I heard in my spirit and how I could have heard that simple little verse SO many times before and NEVER heard what I heard that time! It was as though ALL I heard was “…SO LOVED…THAT HE GAVE…!” And in that moment, I had a totally new understanding of love; love gives!!! When I think of all the ways we try to define and explain love, the one true and very simple answer has always been right there for all to see; yet we have been so focused on everything else the verse declares and promises that most of us have probably overlooked that truly important truth…LOVE GIVES!
As is ALWAYS the case with God’s Word and when we believe we have received a new understanding or revelation of what it means, we can find confirmation elsewhere in the Bible. So I’ve looked forward to having the time to see just what the Bible says about love giving and was truly blessed by what I found! And how fitting it is that the first opportunity to do so is on Christmas Day; the very day we celebrate the greatest gift of love and usually by the giving of gifts and our time to those we love!
The following are just some of the New Testament verses that confirm that love gives:
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Ephesians 5:2 – and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
2 Thessalonians 2:16 – May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
Romans 5:5 – And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
And it was amazing to observe for the first time that every reference I found to “God’s love endures forever!” (and there are a LOT of them) was always preceded or followed by something God had provided or the proclamation “Give thanks…!”–clearly denoting that something was received from God to give thanks for! (And Psalm 136 is a great example of that.) The Old Testament is full of evidence and confirmation that love gives as well, as revealed in the following verses:
Deuteronomy 7:13 – He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.
Deuteronomy 21:16 – when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love.
(WOW! I really found this fascinating; what a powerful affirmation that love gives; even to the point that it was so expected that it had to specifically be forbidden in this case!)
Isaiah 43:4 – Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.
1 Samuel 1:4-5 – Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.
And we see how Jesus “tested” the love of the rich man who wanted to follow Him in Mark 10:21-22, which says Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. The man THOUGHT that he loved Jesus and wanted to follow Him, but when it came right down to it, he didn’t truly love the Lord because he wasn’t willing to give up something else that he loved more; his wealth. And just as that rich man did, when we aren’t willing to love sacrificially, we end up going away sad because God created and intends us to love by giving.
As I thought about how understanding that love gives applies to everyone standing for marriage restoration, the experiences of the men and women I’ve talked to over the past few years, as well as my own experiences flooded my mind and I could see in each and every situation how our unwillingness to give and our focus on our own needs and what we weren’t receiving from our spouses was at the root of just about all of our marital problems and how that hinders marriage restoration. And the things we’re unwilling to give aren’t all that often material things; in fact, more than likely that wasn’t and isn’t the case most of the time.
The things we don’t want to give up are “our rights”…our right to be treated fairly; our right to be treated with respect; our right not to be taken for granted; our right to take offense; our right to be declared right; our right to know; our right to be heard; our right to have our own way; our right to have a bad day; our right not to be rejected or dismissed; our right to defend and protect ourselves; our right to tell someone else how to feel and what to do; even our right to tell someone what not to feel and what not to do…and the list goes on and on. But the bottom line is that LOVE GIVES and it definitely means giving up “our rights”…just ask Jesus! And if we were much more focused on giving to meet the needs of the spouses we profess to love instead of doing everything we can to make sure that our own needs are met an that none of our rights are denied, and if we would focus our prayers on the needs of our spouses instead of our own, there’s no doubt that we would see the SUPERNATURAL power of God Almighty move in our lives and circumstances so fast that we wouldn’t believe it! 1 Corinthians 13 leaves no doubt of the importance God places on love, which takes on a whole new meaning when we truly understand that love gives. In fact, 1 John 4:7-9 even declares Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. And since our love can be measured by our giving, most of us have to admit that we haven’t really done a very good job of demonstrating love to our spouses; especially when we were so focused on their failure to meet our needs and/or expectations.
God even commands us to love our enemies, so He surely expects us to love our spouses! Mathew5:43 says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, And then Proverbs 25:21-23 even tells us HOW to love our enemies; it says (my emphasis added) If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. And that is further confirmed in Romans 12:19-21, which says Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And if God even expects and commands us to LOVE our enemies and promises to vindicate and bless us when we do, just imagine how much more He expects us to love our spouses…even when they are NOT meeting our needs and being the spouses we want them to be and even when they’re acting or treating us more like enemies than spouses! Yet, when we HUMBLE ourselves under the mighty hand of God and give love even though not feeling very loved, GOD promises to lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6) and that HE will move SUPERNATURALLY to bless and reward us. So, just as we’re told Jesus did in 1 peter 2:23, we are instructed to follow the example He set for us and to entrust ourselves to God Who judges justly and Who has the power to reward, vindicate and justify us. So if we want the love of our spouses, we should focus on sacrificially giving to meet THEIR needs and THEN prepare to count our blessings, because of God’s awesome promise in Luke 6:38; which says Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” And it is by no means insignificant that the verse preceding this awesome promise from God states “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. So I hope and pray that we all will learn that the measure of our love is measured by our giving and that when we give to our spouses, we are the ones who will reap the rewards and be blessed and encouraged beyond belief!!! And let’s never forget that GOD IS LOVE and that it is HE Who gives us EVERYTHING we have and all that we are!