Possibly one of the hardest things about loving another person is learning to not be self-centered but to love unselfishly. It’s so natural to be concerned for our own welfare, and it’s so hard sometimes to put another person ahead of ourselves.
Not to say that we need to debase ourselves, no, but in our marriage relationship there is such a wonderful benefit from learning to put the other first, to seek their benefit and their well being. Why? Because this is love.
Love is more than a fuzzy feeling.
Love is more than a noun.
Love is an action, a “doing” on our part to actively love the other person.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV
Love is not selfish.
We don’t like to think about being selfish.. and we might not even realize some of the times when we are. Selfishness can be sneaky. It can be as simple as insisting on eating at a restaurant your spouse doesn’t like, or taking the last soda even though you had most of them already.
As hard as it is to UNlearn our selfhishness, it’s even harder to respond appropriately in the face of selfishness on the other person’s part. Maybe that’s because our own selfishness kicks in and says, “Wait a minute! That’s not fair! I’M not getting what I deserve!” How much easier to spot another’s selfish acts.
How do we love in spite of selfishness instead of allowing our own to kick in? I do think sometimes the right thing to do is to let love cover that sin and just let it go. Is it really worth fighting over the last soda? There are other times when the right to do is to talk about it and lovingly rebuke your spouse. Did you catch that part – LOVINGLY.
When selfishness becomes an ongoing problem or when a selfish act is particularly hurtful or unsettling, don’t let it fester. That does not mean pouting, “You always drink all the sodas and you never leave any for the rest of us!” Start a dialogue. Our intention should be the restoration and building up of your marriage — NOT vindication.
But first, we must start with our own hearts. We must dig deep inside and ask ourselves if we’re doing things with selfish motives. We have to prune and weed and pluck so that we can grow in love and kindness.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2: 1-4, ESV
This is love.
This is something I am continuously working on (and probably will be forever.) We may not see all the ways that we do things with selfish intentions, but the more that we look for them to weed them out, the easier those things will be to spot. And we may be able to spot our husband’s selfish acts all too easily, but the more that we practice choosing which acts to address and which to let love cover, the easier that will be, too. (And the easier to let the insignificant acts go without offense.)
Background Image Credit: Wooden Heart by George Hodan