How Do I Love Thee?
By Irene C. Taylor
The breakdown of families today is sad. We are alarmed at the condition of homes in the world; more heartbreaking is the breakdown of the homes of Christians. More personally heart wrenching is the breakdown of the homes of those who proclaim God's Word - preachers of the gospel. In a visit with several "veteran" preachers' wives, this particular topic was discussed. What is the reason for the breakup of so many homes of gospel preachers?
Many excuses may be given but the bottom line seems to be a lack of love. First and foremost, both preacher and wife must be in love with the Lord! This is not a passive love but a love that is committed to serving him, above all else, during good times and bad. Into the life of every faithful gospel preacher will enter times of great discouragement or outright opposition. The wives need to be willing to stand loyally with their husbands at all times and especially when the chips are down. Husbands and wives should support each other in any honorable work!
Secondly, there must be unwavering love between husband and wife. Love is more than passion. The "chemistry" of early courtship matures throughout marriage. It broadens to include a deeper appreciation for the life and convictions of one's mate. Love involves the will; it looks beyond mere sexual attraction, though the physical relationship between husband and wife is included.
Because I love my husband, I appreciate his steadfastness in providing for our daily needs. I appreciate his high moral conduct and, most of all, his dedication to serving the God of heaven. These are the qualities that prompted my loving him; they are the ones that have increased my love. They have also earned the respect of our children. Because he loves me, he appreciates my efforts to make our home a haven from the world, my loyalty to him and our family and, most importantly, of my sharing in his devotion to God.
How do I know this? Because we not only show our love in the way we treat each other (Matt. 7:12), but we express that love verbally every day. When was the last time you told your mate that you love him?
How often do you show your love by the little courtesies that keep love alive? Perhaps one reason marriages disintegrate is because marriage partners fail to appreciate each other. We take our mate for granted!
Preachers are in the limelight, and both the congregation and the husband may ignore the wife. Congregations should be careful to appreciate her. The wife of the preacher is strengthened when public prayers, which asks blessings upon the husband, includes a request for the wife. Preachers could be more sensitive to the wife's feelings and make her aware of her worth. But the preacher's wife could do more to be worthy of inclusion. When wives think they have no responsibility, they need not be surprised to be left out. "They did not hire me" does not relieve me of my Christian responsibility to be an integral part of the congregation's work program.
The preacher's wife has a unique opportunity to influence the women of the congregation. Do they influence them to be active in promoting the work of the church, or do they sit in the rocker of "ido little"? Have they learned that possessions are not the sum of life, or do they yearn to have the latest "thing." Why not be grateful for the privilege of leadership (within scriptural bounds) which God has given them and busy themselves using that privilege to his glory?
Take a moment to reflect upon your love for your husband. In the words of the poem, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Instead of concentrating on the negative, list the positive blessings of your marriage. Renew your commitment to be faithful and loyal both to him and to God. Remember, that vow was made before God as well as man. When we break the vow, we are breaking more than man's law. We are sinning against the God of heaven (Matt. 19:49; Rom. 7:23; Eph. 5:22ff). When we say "I love you" mean it! And say it often.