Love Song Week Two - "Love In Action"
Last week we learned a couple of very profound lessons that we'll be lifting up once again this week: When it comes to finding love, if you want to be with the right one, you have to be the right one. It's not so much about finding the right person as it is about becoming the right person. And when it comes to marriage, if you don't like what you are getting, look at what you are giving.
We discovered that there are four qualities that you need to be looking for in a potential partner, and that you need to be developing in yourself, if you want to have a successful marriage: You need to look for and develop godly character. You need to have higher standards. You need to develop growing trust, and you need to practice consistent encouragement.
Today we're going to talk about ways that you can show Love in Action and we're going to examine three actions that will create a vibrant, lasting marriage.
Here's the thing.. we generally judge others by their actions--by the things that they do. We judge ourselves, however, by our intentions by the things that we meant to do.
For example, when my wife texts me when I am on the way home and asks me to stop at the store she usually texts me a list of things I need to obtain. Sometimes, because she kind of loves them, she'll list popsicles as one of the things I need to obtain. Now, I might forget other things on the list--which happens sometimes even when I try to follow it. But if I forget popsicles, that's bad. Merideth knows that I know how much she loves them. And when she is asking me to pick them up, that means that we are out of them, and she needs one badly that evening. There have been times when I have forgotten popsicles, though. Those were sad evenings for all of us.
And I'll say in those moments when I have forgotten the popsicles--"I am sorry, I meant to get the popsicles."
Or--like the other day--when I promised her that I would go and get her gas because she was almost out of gas. And then I didn't and the next morning she said to me, "You said you were going to go and get me gas."
And I said, "I am sorry, I meant to get you gas.
Because I meant to, I want to give myself a free pass, you see.
But when Merideth wakes up in the morning and makes herself coffee and doesn't make me a cup, too (which rarely happens), I feel all pouty and out of sorts. "She didn't make me coffee! Selfish so-and-so!" Even though she was probably letting me sleep in because she knew that I was tired.
Or when we are supposed to leave at a particular time to go to church, an event, on a date, etc. and we don't because of one thing or another--I'll get all bent out of shape, "She doesn't care about me anymore obviously!" Forget the fact that she was working all day long, worrying about a baby sitter, ordering pizza for the kids, and then getting all dressed up... "She doesn't care about me... boo hoo."
We often judge others on what we perceive to be their actions, abut we judge ourselves on our intentions.
What we need to learn is how to close the gaps between intentions and actions. We need to learn that our actions do speak louder than words, and definitely louder than our intentions.
I think there are three ways that we can close this gap and strengthen our relationships.
First, If you think something good, say it.
Song of Solomon has been our guide through this study, and as I mentioned last week it's an interesting guide because of the very open, honest and sometimes earthy way it speaks about love, relationships and lasting marriage.
As we mentioned, Song of Solomon has been attributed to Solomon and it was written about 965 BC as a guide to passion, love, relationship and commitment. It's also widely seen by Christians as a metaphor for how Christ loved the Church and for Jews as a metaphor for how God loved Israel.
In Song of Solomon chapter 7:1-3 we have a moment where the woman in the relationship is dancing for her beloved. And the brother is checking her out. He says,
How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter! Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands. 2 Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. 3 Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle. Songs 7:1-3
Now I would recommend never describing a woman's waist with the word "mound" but you get the gist of what this dude is throwing down. He's thinking something good---and he says it. He compliments her from head to toe. Although I am not sure where he gets the whole "twin fawns of a gazelle" thing. Guys, just FYI that might not work all that well, but you are welcome to try.
The point is, when you think of something good, you need to say it. This is important! Because if you don't say something good to your beloved, then they often assume that whatever you are feeling is not good. For example, I remember once when Merideth and I were getting ready to go to a banquet or an event and she had taken great pains to pick a dress, fix her hair, put on incredibly awesome heels and I was so focused on getting out the door, and taking care of other things that I didn't immediately tell her how awesome she looked---even though I thought it.
A bit later, she said to me in a small voice--"You never told me that I looked nice. Do I look bad?" Because I didn't say what I thought earlier--it causes issues later.
If I text Merideth something sweet---or something that's a bit... you know... saucy---I get worried when I don't hear back from her right away--but when I do, oh man... everything is right with the world.
And here's something that is true for all of us. What is rewarded is repeated. What is rewarded is repeated. So if you want to see transformation in your spouse--then practice saying something good when you think of it--when your spouse has done something you absolutely love and want them to keep doing for the rest of your life.
Ladies, when your husband prays the blessing at dinner---you tell him that prayer was the best prayer in the history of prayers outside the Bible. When he helps you get the kids ready for bed at night--as he is pulling those Transformers pee-jays over your kid's head you tell him that he is the sexiest man alive and that you can barely contain yourself in that moment. Tell him--in the moment--when you are thinking it--exactly how you feel and I guarantee you will light him up.
The same goes for men--tell your wife how incredible she is, how beautiful she looks, how talented she is when you think of it--in the moment you think of it, and make sure that it's in front of her friends once in a while.
Practice something together that's simple, but powerful. Instead of merely saying "I love you," which a lot of people say just to say it, say "I love you because---" and then fill in the blank. "I love you because you are overlook all of my faults and show me grace." "I love you because you are the only person I ever want to wake up with in the morning." Use your imagination.
In Song of Solomon 7:5 we read this, (He) 5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel. Your hair is like royal tapestry; the king is held captive by its tresses. Song 7:5
The man is essentially saying, "I am a prisoner of love. You have put me in bonds." When we think of something good about our spouse and we say it, we create these unbelievable bonds of love between us that cannot be broken.
Then he goes on to say what he is thinking, (He) 7 Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. 8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” Songs 7:7-8
This is a risky thing to say because it could go either way for him, right? I mean he might climb the palm tree and find out that his taking hold of the fruit is the last thing on her mind right then. But because he's been practicing saying these good things to her, she replies with this:
(She) 10 I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. Songs 7:10
She doesn't just feel desire, she expresses it! The word that she uses here for desire is teshuwqah, which is the same word that is used to describe what a lion or tiger does when it attacks a hapless animal it wants to devour.
Listen, if you want to get to this point where some teshuwqah-ing is about to happen--if you want to be unbelievably attracted to one another--if you want to find the connection that comes from godly intimacy... then practice this love action.
If you think of something good, say it.
Second, if you think something special, do it.
I would divide this into two areas: Purposeful time and Thoughtful Acts.
First, Purposeful Time.
Song of Solomon says this, (She) 11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Songs 7:11
Let's get out of here, she tells him. Let's go to a bed and breakfast. Let's leave all of this other stuff behind for a while and focus on one another.
I think that if there is one word that you could rest on to define success in a marriage when it comes to this kind of thing it would be "No."
In order to say yes to this one thing--being away, creating purposeful time to be with one another away from the cares of life, jobs, kids, family, church, whatever... You need to say no to a lot of other things.
In order to be away together--guys--you may need to say no to golf... no to that hunting trip... no to extra hours at work... no to hard work ladies you may need to say no to the demands of your job, your kids endless activities, the perfect house, girls night out...
The woman in Song of Solomon has a plan, ladies...
(She) 12 Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love. Songs 7:12
She is making a plan, "Let's go to the vineyards, let's go to this special place I know, let's go somewhere where we can be alone, where there's heartshaped bathtubs, champagne on ice, a hammock down by the beach... and there I will give you my love." This. Is. In. The. Bible.
Do you want to make your man's night, ladies? Then make plans. Call him up and tell him that there is a baby sitter for the kids, there's a reservation at a restaurant and a hotel booked afterward.
I will tell you that all day long that guy will be on cloud nine. He will be the happiest dude at work, and he will be the first guy out the door when it's quitting time.
Guys, the same goes for you. Buy tickets to her favorite show. Book her favorite restaurant. Dance with her on a dance floor somewhere. Tell her you are going for a long walk on the beach to talk.
My brother when she sees that you are planning these things ahead of time---you will not fail.
Second. Thoughtful Acts.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy,both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved. Songs 7:13
Here she thoughtfully makes sure that they have everything they need to be comfortable, loving and intimate. Mandrakes, like raisins, were thought to be passion inducing fruit. So she has those, which are good, and she has all kinds of other things, too. She not only thought ahead, she was careful to pick things that were meaningful to him.
Every Sunday morning I wake up at 5 AM and get ready for church while Merideth sleeps. She has told me in the past that she likes for me to wake her up before I leave, and sometimes when I do she'll ask me to set her alarm. The other morning she was sleeping really well, and I didn't want to wake her. But I did go over and set her alarm for her. When it went off and she realized what I had done, she told me that she felt loved.
It was a little thing, just a small gesture, but it made her feel special. Trust me. I don't always get this right, but on this occasion I did, and because she told me how it made her feel---I'll be thinking of this for other kinds of things, too.
If you think something good say it! If you think of something special do it.
Lastly, If you want something different, be it.
Remember last week when the woman told the man in Song of Solomon: "I am not going to be like the veiled women--those prostitutes. I am not going to give myself away in this relationship and end up a shell, a used and dirty thing." She creates boundaries, clear, loving boundaries, that mark off where she is willing to go and not go in the relationship.
If you find yourself constantly being taken advantage of, constantly overlooked, neglected, abused, cheated on, betrayed... Then I would venture a guess that you are not practicing boundaries. If you want something different, than you have to be different. You can't be the kind of person who has no boundaries.
In another part of the book the man tells the woman, "We're not going to let the foxes ruin our vineyard." The word for foxes is also the same word for impurity. If you want to have a godly, vibrant romantic life--than keep impurity out of it. Have eyes and thoughts only for one another. Guys, you might very well recognize that someone other than your wife is attractive. Recognizing this is one thing. Projecting impure thoughts on to that person is another. Ladies, that trainer at the gym might be young, strong and awesome. But when you start imagining you and your trainer doing something other than training---you have a problem.
Don't let the little foxes destroy your vineyard. Normal in our society is betrayal, cheating, emotional affairs---divorce. If you want something different, than you have to be different.
This goes for how you communicate, too. When you disagree, respond to one another rather than reacting to one another. Talk to each other rather than walking away. Decide that whatever you have to give is more important than what you think you need to receive--grace, forgiveness, understanding, etc.
Here are some parting words of wisdom...
Parting words—“the older I get the less time I want to spend with the part of the human race, who didn’t marry me…” - Robrert Brault How awesome is that?
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times—always with the same person…” - Fawn Weaver Imagine if we committed ourselves to re-discovering one another.
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success…” - Henry Ford There's a lot of work and effort that is involved in a good, lasting marriage.
I also want to share this with you from Romans 8:38
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For those of us who follow Christ, we have the example of his love to guide us in our own relationships. If we are fully committed to a godly, long lasting marriage--than the same will be true for us. Nothing can separate us from that kind of love.
And it all starts with this: If you want to be with the right one, you have to be the right one. And: If you don't like what you are getting in your marriage, than look at what you are giving.