Love – ego, brownie points and modesty

Love does not boast. When I think of boasting, I think of an arrogant narcissist. I sometimes resemble that definition. But, that isn’t exactly what the verse is pointing to. The idea herein is that of vainglory (a new word to me, but one that I like), which means “having or showing too much pride in your abilities or achievements”. Add to that, the idea of love not being proud. The Greek word there is, physioō. It means to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily. This falls under a broader definition, meaning to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up. It is rooted in the context of a bellows; a device that produces a strong current of air when its sides are pressed together.

That’s interesting isn’t it?

Love isn’t full of a bunch of hot air!

Okay, that’s not what the verse it pointing to either.

Loving well means not getting an inflated ego because of loving well.

When we love well we don’t have to bring our spouses attention to where we’ve loved or served them. Ever feel inclined to do that? I sure do. I want to make darn sure Shelley knows how well I’ve loved her! So sometimes I try to point out those places – “Did you notice I unloaded the dishwasher?” “Remember, I came home early the other day so you wouldn’t have to worry about picking up our son from school.”

I notice that I am most likely to do this when I’m angling for something personally. Like when I want to get some extra time solo, or I want to go do something that will stretch how much time Shelley will have to be with our 3 boys without my help.

Another take-away: Love doesn’t use service as brownie points or leverage.

Well, crap. Here again, love doesn’t seem to be benefiting the lover, only the loved.

Let’s keep going.

Love does not, some translations say, behave unseemly or unbecomingly. This one is really difficult to unpack. The word origin casts a wide net from dealing with nakedness, shame and modesty to simply being rude or crude. Honestly, I don’t know where this one lands. So I’m going out on a limb a bit.

After researching it, what strikes me is the notion of decency and modesty. In a sense, it’s like Paul is saying that Love doesn’t make crude remarks, jokes filled with sexual innuendo, or lewd comments. Love wouldn’t behave in a way that brings disgrace or embarrassment to the person who sees or hears it. Further, Love would seek to protect against those things. Applied to loving my spouse, I wouldn’t make those types of comments to her, towards her, nor about other people. I would protect her from that stuff; including from people who might act that way and from media that would perpetuate that junk too. Have you ever noticed how casually the crude comments are used in prime time television?

Boiling it down, Love protects the virtues of decency and modesty.

Wow, how sexual integrity issues are the antithesis of love. By the very nature of the thing, I cannot love my spouse and be using pornography, visiting strip clubs, massage parlors or prostitutes. I cannot love my wife and insist she mimic what I’ve seen a mistress or the women in porn wear, do or say.

Wrapping this post up, I feel convicted, yet again. And I’m looking forward to seeing how all this ends up benefiting the lover, not just the loved one.

Love – Kindness and Envy

A quick hit post, continuing our attempt to understand Love.

In this post we’ll look at a couple more attributes. The next one is kindness. “Love is kind” the verse says. The Greek word is chrēsteuomai, meaning to show one’s self mild, to be kind, use kindness. This is the only place in the entire bible the word is used. The word is a verb, thus the connotation is that kindness is an act. It’s not saying love is static, but instead that love acts in kind ways. Some commentators suggest that Paul is specifically pointing to practicing kindness at the end of patience.

Practical application: when we’re at the end of our rope, even if we’re angry, we don’t move into character assassinations. We refrain from degrading the other person and/or treating them with contempt. We still show love even when we don’t like them anymore.

Ugh. Difficult.

Next; envy. Love does not envy. Some translations say love is not jealous. It’s rooted in the idea of heating up or boiling with emotion. Another word used as a descriptor is ‘zeal’. People often quote this in relationships where one spouse or the other is jealous of time spent with other people, or the relationship a spouse has with someone outside the marriage. But it’s really not intended that way in this verse. Here again, Paul seems to be aiming at this idea of a kind of love willing to withstand the heat when the temperature in the relationship gets turned up.

Further, unpacking the meaning of envy/jealousy, a distinction is made with respect to the Greek words. “Envy” desires to deprive another of what he has, “jealousy” desires to have the same sort of thing for itself. Envy is directed outward, jealousy is more of an inward thing. Either way, the end result is selfish gain. Thus, we can see again the idea that Love requires self-sacrifice for the sake of our spouse.

Do we even need to continue this study? Its painful already! If you’re like me, you are already starting to ask, “when do I get any benefit from this?”

We’ll get to that. Just not quite yet.

 

Love

A few weeks ago I did a post about compartmentalization. I think its important to talk a little about love too, in conjunction with the compartments. When I hear the question, “How can he do this?” from a wife it is often accompanied by, “he couldn’t love me and do this”. Most often, this is simply not true.

By and large the guys I work with honestly, genuinely do love their wives. They hate the damage they’ve caused and never intended to hurt the one they love the most on the planet. This was true for me too. I questioned myself most days, asking if I really loved Shelley. I knew I did, but I also knew my actions said otherwise. I was conflicted and confused. Ultimately, I started to question what kind of monster or psycho must I be to say I love my wife but continue to commit adultery.

Truth is, I’m not psycho, nor am I monster. I was and am in need of a Savior.

And the issue wasn’t whether or not I loved Shelley; the issue was that I didn’t know what love was. I had a really shallow idea of love.

I find this to be true for many of the guys I help. They love their wives, but their understanding of love is shallow, self-serving, and rooted in conditions. In fact, guys often tell me they feel like their wife’s love is conditional towards them, when in reality they are simply projecting their own dysfunctional notions of love onto their wives (if you’re a wife reading this, please don’t use this against your husband. Have a counselor help sort it out and unpack it).

Anyway, shallow love… I thought love meant nonstop acceptance, never feeling rejected. It meant the absence of conflict (or only on very rare occasions). I expected love to feel good, most of the time. And to feel safe; which translated into sharing what I wanted, when I wanted, without my wife being hurt, being upset, asking a ton of questions, or invalidating what I was saying. I thought love would mean I got my way a lot. That’s how it was in my house growing up as an only child. Love was supposed to equate to a lot of sex too; sex the way I wanted it, when I wanted it. And love entitled me to have a say in my wife’s weight, wardrobe and way of thinking. Need I go on?

I had no concept of the kind of love I think Jesus talked about. You know, that whole “lay down your life” thing? That was awesome when it was convenient and I ended up benefiting. On this short road of recovery, I’ve come to see that there is a more selfless kind of love; a deeper, more authentic, more messy, painful and joyful love.

 The next couple posts will deal with unpacking Love, as it is described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

 

Watch for a post on the first couple attributes, Patience & Envy soon!