Thank you for reading Standing Firm, a weekly men's devotional written by Dennis Wingfield for Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Love? What is love? Love can mean many things. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, love is...
1) a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person;
2) attraction that includes sexual desire;
3) the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship;
4) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; and
5) warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion for an activity, object or thing.
Is this all there is to love? Sexual desires or warm attachment to things? This is not love. Notice that all of these definitions focus on one’s own feelings and desires. It says nothing about the other person. So what is love? Look no further than Christ’s passion and death on the cross to see the definition of true love.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Love is pain. It is sacrifice. Love is a willingness to give your all for the good of another. Love is being bound and beaten, whipped and torn, stretched and staked to a cross, bleeding, screaming, crying...and forgiving. This is true love. Love is the total self-giving of Christ on the cross for the salvation of the world.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Many standers struggle to know Christ’s incredible love for them. Marital struggles leave many feeling defeated, worthless and especially unloved. I have some suggestions for you. Take time over the next day or two to read and meditate on John’s account of the Passion (John 18-19) or watch the movie The Passion of the Christ. Imagine Jesus is sitting next to you as you do this. He places His arm around you and gazes deeply into your eyes. Enter into this scene. Feel Jesus’ warm embrace. Feel His presence. Listen as Jesus speaks to you, “My beloved Brother, let me show you how much I love you.” Then let Jesus tell you the story of His love for you.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Christ loves you immensely, right now, just as you are. Let go of all your pain and suffering. Give it all to Jesus. He wants to crucify it with Him on the cross. Christ’s victory over sin and death is your hope. Hope is not a mere desire that somehow things might work out. Hope reaches deeper and goes further. It is the expectation that the despair and brokenness you face, the evil and suffering that you must endure, the inequality and injustice you experience, will not have the last word; it is not the ultimate reality. No, hope is the joyful expectation of divine blessings. Christ is the answer. Seek Him with all your heart. Let Him touch you and heal your broken heart. Let Him pour out His grace upon you and your marriage. Christ has defeated death and darkness. The tomb is empty. He is victorious. Alleluia!
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”...But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57-58
God bless you, my dear Brother in Christ. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:1, 5