Well, there they are – those famous five words – “I don’t feel like it”. You’ve thought those very words many times before and being honest, you’d have to admit you have spoken them to your spouse at times when faced with the need to selflessly serve your spouse. They are at the heart of what drives a wedge between us and our spouse. They embody the essence of being focused on self and they center around our very illusive “feelings”.
Why do we struggle with Jesus’ exhortation in John 15:12, “…Love each other as I have loved you”. May I suggest we struggle because we are faced with the pressure to feed “self;” this is what I want and this is what I need. Not only are we feeding our needs and wants, we are driven by our feelings. These can be feelings of fairness, injustice or anger and resentment. When we mix a focus on self with our ever changing feelings, we have a recipe for a dysfunctional relationship.
This is a hard message. It’s hard because it causes us to look inward, to examine our heart and motives. In Ephesians 5:25 husbands are commanded to “love your wives just as Christ loved the church”. Note that this was a command to obey. It didn’t say to “feel love for your wives” but rather it commands husbands to “love your wives”. A command. Nothing is mentioned about if she deserves love because this is unconditional love. Jesus says again in John 15:17 “this is my command: Love each other”. Further in Luke 6:35, “But Love your enemies, do good to them…” We probably don’t have all warm and fuzzy feelings towards our enemies but we are nevertheless commanded to love them. Love in this context is an action. We are to act lovingly, in spite of our feelings, our personal agenda or the actions of our spouse.
So how does this relate to you and your spouse? Remember that we talked about watering often and filling your spouse’s emotional tank. Well, that can be very hard to do if we are consumed with and focused on ourselves, thinking… But what about me? What about my needs? When do I get what I want? And then our feelings kick in as we remember prior hurts and resentments. Yes, it’s hard to love unconditionally.
But think about this: How does a wife feel when she is loved unconditionally? How does a husband feel when he is loved by his wife even though he struggles with numerous shortcoming and failings? In those moments when they experience that unconditional love from their spouse, in that moment they experience the love of Christ, coming from and through their spouse. They experience the touch of Jesus in their lives.
When you are tempted to say to yourself, “But I don’t feel like it,” remember that He died for us and I’m quite sure that He didn’t feel like it. So, love, and love unconditionally, and soon by the grace of God, you will feel like it.