October 15, 2010

Be Our Guest / Lori Lowe

Show Christ’s love through marriage

Lori Lowe“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

The popular hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love,” is based upon the above verse. The admonition to love our neighbor as ourselves is similar.

As a result, we as Christians are urged—rightly so—to clothe the naked, care for strangers and pray for our enemies.

We must not forget to love the ones closest to us. Love your spouse like no other. This sacred union requires care and feeding, and should not be neglected among our other responsibilities, including child rearing.

Unfortunately, Christian and Catholic marriages end in divorce nearly as often as those in the general population. As a group, we are not doing a great job of witnessing for Christ by our marital love.

At times, we allow the concerns of the world, such as financial gain or keeping up public appearances, to overwhelm our sacramental promises to be devoted to one another. We may allow our selfish tendencies to stand in front of God’s will.

“Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.” Many have attributed this quotation to St. Francis of Assisi. I believe the saint wanted to remind us that actions speak louder than words, that our lives must demonstrate God’s word in action.

Showing genuine, sacrificial love is the primary way we can do this. However, words are often necessary.

We shouldn’t be ashamed to speak up for marriage in general, and our marriage in particular. And we should be prepared to verbally share our hope and the source of our hope in Jesus Christ.

However, others won’t care to dig deeper if our lives don’t reflect love. In fact, others—including children in broken homes—may conclude that Christianity holds empty promises.

When we genuinely, sacrificially love our husband or wife, placing their needs above ours, we model Christ’s love. When we use our words to explain biblical love to our children, we instill a firm foundation in them.

When we use lovely words but do not show love or when we spend our time complaining about our spouse instead of building him or her up, we become part of the negative culture that devalues marriage.

We are all challenged daily by the enemy and by the culture in which we live, and may take for granted the clear instructions that we are given in the Bible regarding exactly how to love.

Focusing on each of the following words in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians is a good start. I know as I celebrate 15 years of marriage that I am still working on achieving the first sentence.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).

(Lori Lowe is an author and marriage advocate who writes research-based marriage tips at www.lifegems4marriage.com. She and her husband, Ming, and their two children are members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.)

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