This is the fourth post of a seven part series on manhood. The series is called Manspirations and the intent is to aim the spotlight of Scripture on the life of a man to determine how a man should live once redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV)
George Strait lied. I think the world of King George, but he's floating out a half truth among his repertoire of sad/happy/patriotic/fun/nostalgic country songs. Now he didn't write this song, but he sings it. Here is the lie:
You can't make a heart love somebody
You can tell it what to do
But it won't listen at all
You can't make a heart love somebody
You can lead a heart to love
But you can't make it fall
~You Can't Make a Heart Love Somebody
A young lady dedicated this song to me once as a way of saying she wasn't interested. I thought it was a nice effort, but it felt like a knife twisting in my ribs. I digress.
Love is a verb. It is an action. It is a choice. To love is not to merely feel deep affection, but to choose to do loving actions. Paul tells the Corinthians to let all that they do be done in love. Do love - not feel love. True love is a resolve to do love towards someone: to care for them, to ask about their heart, to protect them, to serve them. Even when it doesn't feel good.
A man does loving things.
You CAN Make a Heart Love Somebody
If love were only a feeling, the divorce rate would be 110% (we would file for divorce before the wedding - thus the extra 10%). I am sure there are many times when Lindsay would rather hang out with a rattlesnake than me, but still she loves me. She chooses to.
Discipline precedes desire. When I come home worn out from work, I have two choices. I can, as I once heard in a sermon by Matt Chandler, choose second shift. I can kick it in gear and serve my family as my second shift of the day. Or I can listen for the quitting bell. I can slump on the couch, watch a mindless show, or hide away and play my guitar. If I choose second shift, something happens in my heart. As my actions reflect my commitment to serve my wife (Ephesians 5) and bring up my children (Proverbs 22:6), my desires start to mold to my actions. When we align our actions with God's design for the world, we see fruit and harmony.
You know how some babies are kind of ugly? Well, they are. But their parents think they are beautiful 100% of the time,. Lindsay and I call it "parent goggles." It's really a cool thing. These parents choose to love their baby because for better or worse it's their baby - and they've committed to parent it. Their heart's emotions follow their embraces, kisses, and prayers. Love is a choice they make and the more they make that choice the more they want to love.
A man will choose to make his heart love those who God has given him. His friends, his wife, his pastor, his kids, his boss. He will choose loving action and he will not wait for recognition or reciprocation of that love. Just as Jesus' love was unilateral, one way love, as men we should love without regard to response. Think of it as depositing money into the bank without making a withdrawal. We deposit love and trust God to handle the rest. That's covenant love.
Love is Costly
Love takes a toll. A man should be tired. He will face disappointment. He will make enemies. Churchill once said:
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
A man should get up, work hard and then (if he has a family) come home and work hard. His love should cost him everything, his very life. Jesus' love cost Him everything - His life, His honor, His relationship with His Father. He wasn't bewildered by the cost of His love for us. When the spears touched His perfect skin, He was in agony but He wasn't surprised. He knew His love would lead Him to the cross. He went there of His own volition (John 10:18).
When people get married we make all kinds of stupid jokes. We call them suckers or talk about their ball and chain. When people are pregnant people tell them to get some sleep because they'll never sleep again (I have a buddy who nearly lost it over hearing this for the billionth time). What we are doing with these stupid jokes and trite unsolicited pieces of advice is looking at a man about to go into battle and discouraging him. As he readies his gear, checks his weapon and says his prayers, we tie his legs together. It's going to be brutal out there. You sure you want to go? You might get shot and you'll be super hungry. But a soldier knows the cost when he signs on the line. He goes anyway because of love.
I remember flying home on a business trip with a fallen American serviceman aboard our plane. The pilot told us over the intercom as we landed and the entire airport welcomed our plane. There were fire trucks shooting their water canons, policemen saluting in their navy uniforms, and military personnel standing board straight to honor the fallen. As I looked out my little circle window, it hit me. This war costs something. My eyes stung and my throat got lumpy. What a cost. This young man gave everything for the love of his brothers and for the love of our country.
Love is Manly
When Jesus takes a man, He gives him a heart of flesh. The old stone heart is tossed aside. His new heart is of flesh, warm and beating. The nature of the man has changed. And thus we should see his life change. We should see him using his manhood for others.
I remember my dad's arms. Now dad is still with us (love you, Paw), but I mean I remember his arms when I was a kid. As I'd sit in his lap, I can remember his strong man arms. They'd wrap me up or play the hand slap game - you know the one where you put your hand on top and try to move it away before it gets slapped? When I fell he'd pick me up. His strength was committed to loving me as his son. That's as manly as it gets.
This can look many different ways. Some dudes cry and get blubbery because of love and that's fine. Some dudes are strong and quiet, like a coiled spring. Also fine. Love given is as unique as the one giving it. We don't have to mold our loving actions after a certain mold. Jesus was tough, tender, blunt, diplomatic, emotional, and reserved. He showed us the full gamut of emotions and He did so perfectly.
Men, preach the Gospel to yourself constantly. Remember you are saved by grace through no merit of your own. Remember the love of The Father to send Jesus. Let your blessed purchase by Jesus motivate you to loving action...no matter how you feel.