Give More Love Than You Take In Your Marriage

If you have been blessed by this show and would like to join the marriage after god podcast patron team, please visit marriageaftergod.com/patron  Is the word love and how we use it….diluted? The definition of the word love as we use it today does generally cover a variety of connotations; from intense feelings of deep affection, to great interest or pleasure. The problem with this definition of love is when those chemicals subside, and those feelings in the body or the flesh become harder to come by, what are we left with? Love in marriage is not just saying the words “I love you.” Nor is it simply a feeling or rush of dopamine, lost after just a moment. It is something much more powerful and promising.  Love in marriage is a verb, an action. It is what you do that sends the true message of love to your spouse. But what happens in marriage when you or your spouse say those words, yet your actions are unloving? What happens when you don’t “feel” so in love,  like you might have in the past? This is why an accurate understanding of what love really means is essential. Even when no words are said, or no feelings are present, you can choose to love your spouse, and love them regardless of what they choose to do or not do, all by how you choose to treat and serve them. The greatest example of this is Christ and his love for the church. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Christ’s love is sacrificial, and not contingent upon anything the church did or can do for Him. His sacrifice, giving His life up for his bride, shows us that true love is active and unconditional. Furthermore, our calling and ability to act in love is not and should not be determined by our spouse’s actions. Marriage is not a transactional relationship. It is not about fairness, or doing something once the other person has checked off all the boxes.  You can act in love toward your spouse, regardless of whether they have earned it, or deserve it, because our obedience is not contingent on the actions of others. Marriage is not about “give and take.” We don’t “take” in marriage. Christ never came to take. He served, He gave everything in love. And He is our example for how we are to love. We should strive to always give more than we take. Be the one who shows your love in action, just as you would want your spouse to do for you, regardless of their own actions. If the goal in marriage is fairness, this way of saying, “You get this, and I get that,” and always looking for the next moment when we get what we want, we will never be satisfied. We will be more easily offended when things don’t pan out evenly, and jealousy will creep in. We will start to become each other’s judges – what can be, what shouldn’t be, what’s equal. Instead, let us revolutionize our marriages and love our spouse the way Christ loves us. Without condition, without expectation of return, yet with the hopeful expectation of a reward from above. John 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. We dilute the powerful meaning when we only say “I love you,” but there is no proof in action. We can revive the meaning of the word love and what it means in marriage by being doers of love. Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

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Aaron Smith:

Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith, your hosts of the Marriage After God podcast. The word love has been used so often and for such a variety of things. Commonly applied to everything from pets to food, from clothing to cars, and of course, in significant relationships. If we love all of our things, then what does it mean when we do tell our spouse, “I love you”?

How are those around us, our spouse, our children, our friends and our family to know the difference between our love for things and our love for them? How can one word have so many different levels of meaning? Has it been diluted through the way we use it? Has it ceased to hold its power and purpose? And how can we hope to revive the meaning and depth of this word when it comes to those to whom it is to mean the most?

Jennifer Smith:

Today’s episode is brought to you by our faithful patron team who have chosen to help financially support this show monthly. Here’s a shout-out to some of our most recent patrons. Sarah H., Cilinthia S., Lillian O., Dana S., Sean S. and Anna P. Thank you guys so much for choosing to partner with us and in blessing tens of thousands of couples with free daily prayer emails and this weekly podcast. We really appreciate you. If you have been blessed by the free Marriage After God content, we’d love to invite you to join our patron team. All you have to do is visit marriageaftergod.com/patron. P-A-T-R-O-N.

Aaron Smith:

Okay.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay.

Aaron Smith:

Welcome back.

Jennifer Smith:

Hold on. I got to just say, you guys should know I put my hair in a ponytail and it’s way up super high, and every time I move my head-

Aaron Smith:

It’s tickling your cheeks or something.

Jennifer Smith:

… and my ears. Yeah.

Aaron Smith:

Oh, your ears.

Jennifer Smith:

But does it look funny?

Aaron Smith:

I didn’t notice until you said something, but…

Jennifer Smith:

I’m glad that nobody can see me, but there’s also this tension of like I wish we had a live audience so I could ask them, “Hey, how are you liking the podcast?”

Aaron Smith:

You do not wish we had a live audience.

Jennifer Smith:

And then they’re like, “Woo”.

Aaron Smith:

That is not true.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay, not true.

Aaron Smith:

Everyone listening, do not believe Jennifer. She would not fare well with a live audience.

Jennifer Smith:

But do you understand what I’m saying? I like the feedback. I like to hear from them.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. It’d be awesome if we could get… I’ve heard other podcasts. I don’t know how they do this, but they get live phone calls. I don’t know how they even do it.

Jennifer Smith:

Well, they probably use like insta-

Aaron Smith:

They got to have something.

Jennifer Smith:

Right.

Aaron Smith:

We’re not doing that, but maybe in the future. Hey, so last week we talked about how I was starting jiujitsu.

Jennifer Smith:

Oh, yeah.

Aaron Smith:

Okay.

Jennifer Smith:

Guess what?

Aaron Smith:

But what did you do-

Jennifer Smith:

I did it.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, you did jiujitsu with me.

Jennifer Smith:

I did it, too. It was awesome. They offer a fundamentals class, which is different than the class that you are going to, and I was really nervous.

Aaron Smith:

No, it’s a class that I feel like I need more than the other classes because it’s the thing that just teaches…

Jennifer Smith:

They teach techniques, so-

Aaron Smith:

All the techniques.

Jennifer Smith:

… they’ll show you a move and then you and your partner have to do it over and over and over.

Aaron Smith:

It’s still a really good workout because you’re doing these things on your back. You’re doing perma-crunches the whole night because you have to hold your head up.

Jennifer Smith:

And it was fast-paced for me, but it was probably a lot slower paced for you compared to the other class just because-

Aaron Smith:

It is, because we weren’t doing any live rolling or anything like that. I liked that, actually.

Jennifer Smith:

So I liked it because I like learning new things and I liked the physicalness of… Is that a word? Physicalness?

Aaron Smith:

Physicalness?

Jennifer Smith:

Because we used it as a date time, and so-

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, we went on a date. It was our date night.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. But being able to do a physical activity with you, together, I liked it.

Aaron Smith:

It was cool. It’s probably one of the first time we’ve done something like… I mean, it’s got to be that we’ve done something like that together.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. Next up on the date bucket list would be ballroom dancing, I think. That’s physical.

Aaron Smith:

No. Sorry.

Jennifer Smith:

Aaron, if I can do jiujitsu, you can ballroom dance with me.

Aaron Smith:

That… No. Jiujitsu is so much different. I don’t know. Don’t put me on the spot like that.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay. Sorry.

Aaron Smith:

Ballroom dancing.

Jennifer Smith:

All right. We’ll see. You probably will.

Aaron Smith:

There’s a bunch of wives out there poking their husbands, like, “Ballroom dancing.” Oh, my gosh.

Jennifer Smith:

And there’s husbands, other guys.

Aaron Smith:

Did you like it? The jiujitsu?

Jennifer Smith:

I did.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. You’re even hoping that this gym opens up more fundamentals classes, so that you can do it more often now.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah.

Aaron Smith:

That would be awesome. I had a lot of fun. I need to do the fundamentals class more. I learned a lot actually. And then what’s really cool now is, we could practice stuff here.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. And I know what I’m doing.

Aaron Smith:

And you know what you’re doing-

Jennifer Smith:

Kind of.

Aaron Smith:

… and then you teach me because you’re actually really good at it. You have a natural talent at it.

Jennifer Smith:

I will say this, when it comes to our kids, because they’ve been doing it longer than both of us. They’ve been doing it for a year. I have more compassion or empathy or something for them-

Aaron Smith:

Because they walk out sweaty and hot and drained.

Jennifer Smith:

… and tired and drained, yeah, and I’m just like, “Okay, I don’t know why I didn’t realize how much it actually takes out of you.” And then the other side of it is, I like to learn alongside my kids, whether it be music or what we’re learning in school, but for jiujitsu, I feel like I can come home and teach them a move or let them practice together and I can tell if they’re on the right track.

Aaron Smith:

Well, and then they also can teach us stuff, which you’ve done, too. That’s kind of fun. Get on the floor and be like, “Show me how to do that sweep you were doing.”

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. We promised not to talk about jiujitsu all the time, but it has been coming up a lot in conversation lately.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Maybe there’s other people out there that are going to start it now. That’d be cool. So, just one other thing we wanted to bring up before we move into this week’s topic. A couple of weeks ago we went to lunch with our kids, and usually when we’re sitting at the table waiting for the food to come or to order, we’ll do stuff like playing a game. We’ll do like-

Jennifer Smith:

I spy.

Aaron Smith:

… I spy or-

Jennifer Smith:

I don’t spy.

Aaron Smith:

… I don’t spy, which is a game we came up with. But this time you asked them a question, and it was out of nowhere.

Jennifer Smith:

I was curious the different levels of knowledge and experience and what they knew to be of this topic. Obviously it’s on marriage because this is a marriage podcast. That’s why we’re telling you this.

Aaron Smith:

And you asked our kids… They’re all just sitting there coloring on their little coloring pages and doing I spy, and you’re like, “Hey, kids, why did God make marriage? What did He make it for?” And they all stopped and looked at you. You got all their attention really quick, actually.

Jennifer Smith:

Olive blurted out really fast, “It’s to be with my best friend all the time.” Which I’m like, “She’s definitely one of our kids because we talk about that.”

Aaron Smith:

That’s how you feel.

Jennifer Smith:

That’s how I feel. I know you feel like that. We probably talk about that.

Aaron Smith:

Which I thought was a really good answer. It’s like, “Yeah, you get to be with someone all the time, and hopefully it’s your best friend.” I mean, that’s the idea, right?

Jennifer Smith:

Yep. Wyatt, our six-year-old, said, “I think it was to make the world bigger.” And Aaron, you looked over at him and you said, “What do you mean?” And he goes, “Well, because people get married and have lots of babies.”

Aaron Smith:

What’s funny is, when he said it, my first thought was that, and I was like, “Maybe that’s not what he’s meaning though.” So that’s why I said, “What do you mean?” And he said exactly what I was thinking. I was like, “Oh.” And I was like, “Yeah, that is actually one of the reason for marriage is for babies.” And then Elliot, I mean, he’s our oldest.

Jennifer Smith:

He pays attention.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, and he pays attention. He’s like, “I’m going to have the right answer,” but he means it, too. He said, “It’s an example of Christ and the church. Like of God and the church.” And I was like-

Jennifer Smith:

Short, sweet, simple.

Aaron Smith:

… “You’re right.” And what’s awesome is all of these questions were aspects of why God created marriage. I just thought that was really cool.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay, last, last, last thing. I made a new recipe for dinner tonight. Was it good? Did you like it?

Aaron Smith:

It was really good.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay. It was really simple, beef stew. And so this is just ever… You listening, your PSA, to make homemade bone broth. I did not grow up learning how to cook and so I’ve been learning as I go and some things feel really intimidating to me. And making homemade broth has been one of those things where I put it off for a long time. And then once… Actually, Aaron, you made it.

Aaron Smith:

I used to do a lot of chicken broth. I never made beef broth.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. But you instigated this curiosity in me to make more stuff homemade.

Aaron Smith:

Well, we both discussed this year… I mean, we don’t do a ton of processed things, but even cutting it down more, like, “Hey, let’s just stop getting some boxed things and some canned things,” which has put us on this trajectory of making more stuff from home. From scratch.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. And I’ve made from scratch bone broth in the past, but not very consistently. So I’m trying to work on that. Anyways…

Aaron Smith:

It was really good. It tasted like restaurant-quality beef stew.

Jennifer Smith:

If you are like me you need the encouragement, so here’s my encouragement to you. Look up a simple recipe and just try.

Aaron Smith:

It was awesome. Actually, that recipe we used, a bit of stew meat, but I think that would’ve been a really good sauce to put braised-

Jennifer Smith:

Short ribs or something.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Oh, it was awesome. Well, we’re in February and-

Jennifer Smith:

That’s crazy.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. This is going really fast, actually.

Jennifer Smith:

Really fast. I wonder if it’s because we’re podcasting every week.

Aaron Smith:

Maybe. Maybe.

Jennifer Smith:

Feels fast to us, not to everyone.

Aaron Smith:

But often this is looked at as the love month. This is the month where Valentine’s Day is coming up and people start thinking that way. I mean-

Jennifer Smith:

You’re already planning for it?

Aaron Smith:

No? You’re funny.

Jennifer Smith:

I know.

Aaron Smith:

I don’t plan that far ahead of anything. But, I mean, especially being in marketing and things like that, this is also the season when people start marketing for love and all that stuff. So, it’s the love month. Everyone knows that.

Jennifer Smith:

So we have to talk about it? Because we’re-

Aaron Smith:

You’re already probably seeing it. Flowers at the store and all the candies and cards and everything. Oh, I just thought about this. We have friends that are doing this awesome pop-up shop at a coffee shop locally and all of their kids are making Valentine’s Day cards. And I thought it was so cute, and I just thought that was an awesome idea. But anyway, it’s love month. So what’s the topic? Since this is love month, what are we focusing on this month?

Jennifer Smith:

Love.

Aaron Smith:

Love.

Jennifer Smith:

In specific, giving more than you take.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, this episode-

Jennifer Smith:

Which I’m going to explain a little bit more about this title of this episode later. But when we first started out the episode, Aaron came out asking a good question. Is the word love and how we use it diluted? Or has it-

Aaron Smith:

Has it lost its meaning?

Jennifer Smith:

… its impact, because we do use it to cover quite a lot of feelings we have towards people and things. And the first thing I thought about was, are there other words that we should be using to define what we like and love? Is it a laziness thing to use only the word love? Or have we just simplified our communication like shorthand? Because there are other words, like, like, prefer, affection.

Aaron Smith:

I think genuinely there… Other languages are more apt at making these words make sense. In Greek, there’s multiple words for the word love.

Jennifer Smith:

But they have specific definitions.

Aaron Smith:

And they have specific… Yes. And then in Hebrew, there’s multiple words for love, and they’re not all used synonymously. So you would use this word for that, this word for this. So the English language is kind of lazy. We just combine all these things into one thing, so like, “Oh, I love my car. Oh, I love that dress. Oh, I love this dish.” Like-

Jennifer Smith:

Okay, but-

Aaron Smith:

We love everything.

Jennifer Smith:

… but in looking up the definition for the word love, it does cover quite a bit because it talks about having intense feelings of deep affection and also great interest or pleasure.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. But I do think that definition is in this newer sense of how it’s now used rather than breaking it out. Like you said, maybe there are other words we can using. But I wanted to point out one way that all of us, in essence, kind of define love. And I’m going to read something. In 2005, a Harvard professor and her team analyzed 2,500 brain scans of college students who viewed pictures of someone special to them and compared them to scans to ones taken when the students looked at pictures of acquaintances. So there’s this study being done and what do their brains look like when they look at someone they just barely know, and someone that they’re in love with?

And the photos of people that they romantically loved caused the participants’ brains become active in regions rich with dopamine, the so-called feel-good neurotransmitter. Two of the brain regions that showed activity in this MRI scans were the caudate, I don’t know how to say it, nucleus in the region associated with reward, detection and expectation and the integration of sensory experiences in social behavior. And then the next part that I was reading and it says, “When we’re falling in love, chemicals associated with the reward circuit flood our brain producing a variety of physical and emotional responses, racing hearts, sweaty palms, flushed cheeks, feelings of passion, anxiety.” And I think that this, what I’m reading, this study of biology, how our brains function when we see someone we’re in love with-

Jennifer Smith:

Our physiological response to.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Where, as the Bible put it, our flesh, because that’s what this is. That’s usually how we define love. Like, “Oh, how I feel. I’m in love. I love you because of the feelings that I receive-

Jennifer Smith:

You feel good.

Aaron Smith:

“… when I’m with you.” But the problem with this definition, and I know everyone’s thinking, “Yeah, but that’s not the only thing.” But this is often how we define it, how we feel. And in that part of the study, it calls it the primitive parts of our brain, these very simplistic part of our brain. It’s like, “Here’s some chemicals. It makes your body feel good. Your body responds in this way.” It’s what happens when those chemicals subside or those feelings in the body or the flesh become harder to come by, which is normal. That’s why we talk about, there’s the honeymoon phase, and then you quickly get out of that, and then now you have to actually work toward…

Jennifer Smith:

Right. So someone well into marriage, if they were to go through this study and you show them a picture of their spouse, would those same areas of the brain light up with dopamine?

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, and that would be super dependent on, as everyone listening knows-

Jennifer Smith:

What they’re going through.

Aaron Smith:

… what they’re going through. Like how close they feel. How they’ve been treating each other. Are they going through hardships? Are they mad at each other? So that same picture’s going to either give cortisol levels or it’s going to give dopamine. I don’t know.

Jennifer Smith:

So if it doesn’t produce that feel-good sensation, what you’re saying is, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.

Aaron Smith:

Right. And so if our definition of love stops merely at how our flesh responds to stimuli, then we’re missing the whole point of what God teaches us in the Bible. We don’t get this definition of love in the Bible. We don’t get this idea of how it makes us feel, rather what we are to do because of love. So we want to highlight today that this idea of love, how we’re going to define it, is not going to be defined by just feelings or emotions or chemical responses in our bodies, or even just by the words themselves.

Jennifer Smith:

Like saying, “I love you.”

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. I mean, we talked about this all last month, this idea of meaning what we say and doing what we say. So we’re going to get into this idea of what is love and how is it visible?

Jennifer Smith:

I think it’s important because what happens in marriage when you say, “I love you,” but then do something unloving. Or what happens when you don’t feel so in love like you did when you were dating.

Aaron Smith:

Which happens a lot.

Jennifer Smith:

Both of these are questions that people have thought about from time to time maybe.

Aaron Smith:

So then we can say probably that the most powerful definition of love is not going to be much of a noun, but more of a verb. It’s something that’s done. It’s something that sends the true message of love to your spouse by your actions.

Jennifer Smith:

So I guess we can say that this is the solution to making sure that that word, love, is not diluted, right, by what we do.

Aaron Smith:

So even when no words are said or no feelings are even present, because there’s plenty of times that either we have the wrong feelings-

Jennifer Smith:

Or, yeah, negative feelings.

Aaron Smith:

… we can prove that we love and do it regardless of the other person, even, all by how we choose to treat them, to bless them and to serve them in whatever situation, whatever moment we’re in. Like that verse that says, “In or out of season, being ready.” Like, I can love you not because I feel in love, but because I have chosen to love you.

Jennifer Smith:

And this is the Marriage After God podcast, so don’t think you’re getting away with not hearing the gospel. The greatest example of love we have is Christ and His love for the church.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Often we see Ephesians 5 starting in verse 24, how husbands and wives should love each other. But the biggest portion we miss in this is that the mystery that’s being proclaimed about husband and wife is Christ and the church. So Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands love your wives.” But then it shows how. “As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” That’s how we love. That’s the example. So Christ, in His love for His church, what does He do? Because He didn’t have the right feelings. He’s literally dying on a cross. Those feelings don’t feel good. He gives Himself up for her. He shows His love by what He does.

Jennifer Smith:

And even though this is talking to husbands specifically, if a Christian woman identifies with Christ, she’s going to operate-

Aaron Smith:

Like the church.

Jennifer Smith:

Well, no, but like Christ. Like, He is my example, and so I look to Him for how He loves and what He does. And so, likewise, wouldn’t you say that I also give myself up for you?

Aaron Smith:

Well, we’re told by Christ Himself. He says, “Follow me.” He says, “Do what I do.” Paul says the same thing. “Follow my example.” So we are given these things in Scripture of, yes. So husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, but we are to love each other sacrificially. Both.

Jennifer Smith:

Right. Right. That’s what I was getting at. Yeah.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. I mean, if you think about the verse on what it’s calling the wife to do, it’s the same thing. It’s another version of sacrifice, but it’s totally sacrificial love of a wife submitting to her husband out of reverence for Christ. Out of love for Him, to honor Him.

Jennifer Smith:

I know you guys have heard this a thousand times, maybe more, but actions do speak louder than words.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, I would say, unless we’re God’s word, our words are almost useless without actions. Our actions are the proof of our life. And we’ve seen it time and time again. We see people that say all the right things, and then eventually you find out that their life does not match the things that they say. That they didn’t love their wife the way they said they loved them. And that’s not what we want. Our encouragement today is that we refuse to let our words be the things that stand alone, but we backup our words with our life, with our actions towards each other. That we actually prove it out and show our wife, show our husband, that we do love them.

Jennifer Smith:

Something that I’ve experienced in our marriage, too, is that those times that I’m struggling with insecurity or doubt about us or our relationship or your love for me, I don’t know why I struggle sometimes, and it’s your actions from past experiences that remind me and prove to me that I can be secure.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, and I feel the same way with you, that even if you did something wrong to me, when you do, or vice versa, I do it to you, I try, and this is what’s so hard, is because in the moment I’m not feeling in love. I’m not feeling happy or joyful, and in my flesh I want to escape and I want to go away, and I want to lash out, and I want to let my flesh have its way. But the Holy Spirit reminds me like, “Well, you love her.” But what He really reminds me of is, that He loves you and that He loves me. And that, slowly, it should probably do it faster, but it slowly breaks me down and makes me realize, “Oh, I need to forgive. I need to repent.” I’m reminded of something outside of myself.

Jennifer Smith:

Well, and it really shows what holds us together.

Aaron Smith:

It’s not us all the time.

Jennifer Smith:

It’s Him.

Aaron Smith:

It’s Christ. So, let’s read James 1, verses 19-25. “Now this, my blood brothers, let-

Jennifer Smith:

Know this.

Aaron Smith:

Oh, thank you. I’m going to start over. “Know this my blood brothers. Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror, for he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he looks like.

“But the one who looks in the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” So just like this Scripture is talking about us being doers of God’s word rather than just hearers results in blessing, I think it’d be safe to say that being doers of love rather than just sayers of love, it has a similar response.

Jennifer Smith:

So a similar result.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. Being blessed. Let me rephrase it. Be doers of love and not sayers only, deceiving yourself, which-

Aaron Smith:

Right.

Jennifer Smith:

That’s powerful. Be a doer who acts and you will be blessed in your doing.

Aaron Smith:

Babe, don’t you know I love you? Like, “Well, yeah-

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah, but…

Aaron Smith:

“… but why are you treating me this way? Why are you…”

Jennifer Smith:

Discrepancy. Remember we talked about that?

Aaron Smith:

The doing it. The acting it out. The doer who acts, the one who has the fruit of their life that matches the tree, right? It’s good fruit. Another biblical illustration of this idea of the one who does, is the one who loves. That’s actually a good phrase. In Luke 10, the Pharisees come to Jesus and they’re always trying to trap Him. And one says, “Teacher, how do I gain eternal life?” And Jesus asks him. He says, “What does the law say?” The Pharisee replies, “Well, it says, love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbors as yourself.” And he was right, because that’s what the law did say. But then the Pharisees, of course, trying to justify himself, says, “Well, who’s my neighbor?”

Like this sense of, “Yeah, I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, but how am I supposed to define, who is it, that guy? Is it this guy?” He’s trying to get himself off, right? Off the hook of having to love his neighbor. And Jesus gives a parable of the good Samaritan. We’ve all have heard the story. This Jewish man is beaten and stolen from by these thieves. And then you have this priest and this Levite, and you have all these people that should have been his neighbor, should have loved him, should have served him, should have taken care of him, but they don’t. They might have been the same people that would claim that they even do those sorts of things. “Oh, I take care of the needy. I help those in need.”

They’re the ones that are the teachers of the law. They’re teaching what the Bible says about this, what the Old Testament says about this, but they don’t. And then Jesus points out in the teaching that a Samaritan comes by and has compassion and goes and takes care of and mends and pays for and treats this injured person. And then Jesus asks, of course, “Who’s the neighbor?” And it’s the one of course that showed, by his actions, his love. He loved his neighbor as himself. He went and he said, “If I was in this ditch, I’d want someone to walk by and help me out. I’d want someone to show me love and compassion and take care of me so I don’t die alone.” And so Jesus again shows us this picture of the one who loves is the one who does. He acted. He did. He showed love by his actions.

Jennifer Smith:

That’s good. In Marriage After God, in our book, Marriage After God, we talk about that. Who is your neighbor? And we talk about your closest neighbor is your spouse.

Aaron Smith:

Not that we don’t have other neighbors, but if you’re going to talk about proximity, yeah, your wife, your husband, they’re the first idea of a neighbor in your life. And if we can’t show them love by our actions, it’s going to be so hard or impossible to show any level of love, true love, to anyone outside of that relationship.

Jennifer Smith:

Another point to note is that, our calling and ability to act in love is not and should not be determined by our spouse’s actions. It’s not a contingent transactional relationship. It’s not about fairness or I’ll do it when they X, Y, Z.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, and this is a hard thing for marriages because we can hear all, like, yeah, doing love, showing by actions, but one thing we brought up in the beginning was doing it without the other person. That they’re not required for you to be able to walk in love. Meaning, you could sin against me, treat me bad, and I still have a responsibility and an obligation and a calling to love you because you are my wife. Not because you did this or that.

Jennifer Smith:

Right. You haven’t earned it, deserve it. Did it first or not. It’s just, because we’re being obedient to what we are called to do.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, and this is what struck me a long time ago was recognizing that that form of love is transactional. My love is contingent on you performing, you respecting, you treating me the way I deserve, or think I deserve. And so we have this transaction relationship where it goes back and forth. I’ll give you what you need when you give me what I need.

Jennifer Smith:

The problem with that though, one problem with, there’s probably more, is that if nobody’s doing anything, you’re literally void and depleted of being taken care of and nourished. And loving one another requires the digging into the soil and tending to it so that everything can grow. If you’re not doing those things, if you’re not pulling the weeds, if you’re not watering, if you’re not tending to it, nothing’s going to grow.

Aaron Smith:

You’re not going to get any crop.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. Serious.

Aaron Smith:

That’s true.

Jennifer Smith:

I was also thinking, instead of measuring in weights of fairness, and this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, I know this. Guilty. But I was thinking, like, “I will love you this way when you love me this way,” okay? I thought about it as seeing a balancing skill. So you on one side, me on the other and our actions.

Aaron Smith:

And it’s got to be even for love to happen.

Jennifer Smith:

And it’s got to be even for we to say we love each other. Our spouse’s actions shouldn’t be equated at all. And what I mean by that is, what if the balance was on one side how Christ loved us and the other side is us. So, if I’m looking at the balance-

Aaron Smith:

Which will always be outweighed.

Jennifer Smith:

If I’m looking at the balance, you’re not even on it. It’s just Christ on one side, me on the other, and I’ll never be able to balance that, because what He did was so great for me, and so all I have is my whole life for eternity to love others, like He loved me.

Aaron Smith:

Because of what He did.

Jennifer Smith:

Because of what He did.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, and I saw that word fairness, and I saw the word weights. Often, also, when you’re trying to… I hope everyone listening is listening. If you’re in this mindset of, “Well, they haven’t earned it. They don’t deserve my respect right now, or my love right now.” Often our weights are different than each other’s. What I perceive as equal or fair is not necessarily going to be what you perceive as equal and fair. So I could come to you and think that I’m performing, think that I’m doing, think that I’m giving what you need, and in your mind I miss the mark completely. And so it’s a game that never has a winner.

Jennifer Smith:

I think in the midst of marriage and relationship tension, people aren’t going around thinking, “I’m not going to love you because you don’t deserve it.”

Aaron Smith:

Maybe sometimes.

Jennifer Smith:

I don’t know.

Aaron Smith:

I think like-

Jennifer Smith:

I feel like it’s a lot more intense of a, you need to be justified first. You need to be validated first. You need to be heard or seen, or there’s all these feelings and emotions, and sometimes you can’t even put into words why you’re withholding. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s jealousy. I don’t know what the thing is, but sometimes we don’t even know how to label how we feel, and so we’re not sitting there going, “Oh, you haven’t earned my love yet, and so I’m not going to give it to you.” It’s just a natural response of our flesh kind of taking over and we let it.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Well, I think, to make it more like on pen and paper, it’s like there’s a ledger for each other and we’re constantly putting little check marks next to like, “Oh, hurt my feelings. Didn’t follow through with this.” And so the sheets are not balanced. There is no financial reconciliation, which is that, well, that’s what reconciliation means. It means to balance out, means to make clean. And so it’s hard for us to reconcile because we’re constantly feeling like there’s a balance out.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay. If there’s a couple listening right now and they’re in that place where things don’t feel reconciled, what do you tell them?

Aaron Smith:

The fastest way to reconcile something, there’s actually, I didn’t put this verse down, but I was just reading it. There’s a parable that Jesus gives about the kingdom of heaven, and there’s a wicked servant that is supposed to be keeping charge of this master’s money, and he was squandering it. And so he is being called to account, but to save himself because he knew he could be fired, he’s like, “Man, I want to make myself right with all of these other people.”

He goes to all these accounts and he’s like, “Hey, you owe 100 this. We’ll make it 80. Oh, you owe 50, make it 30.” And he’s blessing all of these people that owe by just wiping out portions of their debt to make himself right with all of them so that when he’s fired, one of them might invite him into their home and he won’t be left out alone, and all these people are mad at him, and his master’s mad at him and everyone’s mad. The fastest way to reconcile a balance sheet is to wipe out what you’re holding against someone.

Jennifer Smith:

So, forgiveness.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. It’s literally not holding the balance. It’s letting go of it. The king that lets off the servant that owes 100 talents or whatever, he writes it off. That’s the fastest way to reconcile a sheet, is like, “Oh, you no longer owe this.” The slowest way to do it is make the person pay it back. Every penny.

Jennifer Smith:

Okay. For the one who struggles with forgiveness and is listening right now and hearing you say this, and they’re like, “Okay, I want to do that. How? How do I just let it go?”

Aaron Smith:

It’s not just to let it go. It’s a running to God and asking Him to help you reconcile this, to let go of that debt. Whatever it is you’re holding over your spouse, whatever it is that they’ve done. And this doesn’t mean that once you do that, there’ll be immediate perfect reconciliation with the other person. But, man, like I said, it’ll clear that balance sheet and it’ll allow for love to come from at least one side of the relationship when you start walking in that mercy and grace that God gives you.

Jennifer Smith:

I think, too, when we run to God, like you said, we’re confronted with what He did for us, and then we get to walk in humility and be reminded that we’ve been forgiven much. Already.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. We’re the ones that have been forgiven much. Paul in Acts, he gives us a really good example of love in action. Acts 20, verses 34 and 35. He’s talking to the Ephesian church, the Ephesian elders actually. He says, “You yourselves know that these hands,” Paul’s hands, “ministered to my necessities and to those who are with me. In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Paul shows in examples of these Ephesian elders on how his own hands worked not only to take care of his own needs, but also to the needs of those with him.

He worked hard in this way so that he would not be a burden on anyone he was ministering to. So he wanted to love freely and to present the gospel free of charge and free of burden, so that the people that he was preaching to, teaching, revealing the gospel to, were not given extra burden. And at other places, it mentions that he could have actually requested and demanded support from the people he was ministering to. He had a right to it. And he said, “But I didn’t. I forwent that right for your benefit.”

Jennifer Smith:

It’s powerful.

Aaron Smith:

So think about that in your relationship. “I’m going to forgo my right of justification, being right or addressed exactly perfectly the way I deserve or want to. And I’m going to love you for the sake of my love for God, and for your sake. I’m going to show it to you. I’m going to serve you in this way.”

Jennifer Smith:

So he showed love to these people without expecting anything in return. I love that because in marriage, I mean, our expectations get in the way a lot, but being able to love without expectation of receiving anything in return is really powerful, and it’s freeing and it’s beautiful. He also had hope that they would in turn devote themselves to believing in and following Jesus. And I think that we should, in marriage, have that same way of love where we don’t expect anything in return, yet we have this hope that whatever we do would lead our spouse closer to Jesus.

Aaron Smith:

So we’re loving in hope. We’re serving in hope. We’re doing these things, but what’s awesome is, we’re doing them for God. Not even necessarily for our spouse, but it is for them. Paul was doing this for God and for them. So we were talking earlier about this idea of weights and scales, and then there’s this verse in Luke 6:37-38. Jesus says this. “Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For what the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Jennifer Smith:

That’s like a feel-good, but a warning, too. Like, be careful.

Aaron Smith:

Well, I think it’s a warning first with a blessing if you heed the warning. That if you recognize that, if you are going to measure your love, you’re going to measure out your response to your spouse by, did they compliment you? Did they remember that date? Did they treat you this way? Did they say the thing you were wanting them to say? And you have this measure, that’s exactly how it’s going to be measured back to us by the same measure we use. It’s going to be measured back to us, which is why we end up just never getting what we desire, because we have a scale for them, but not for us.

We have a expectation of them, but not for us. And then when it happens to us, we’re like, “How dare they? I’m never going to get what I want, so why should I give them what they want?” No one gets anything. No blessing. No love. So we need to recognize that it’s a judgment of ourselves when we hold judgment over our spouse. It’s a condemnation of ourselves when we hold condemnation over them. It’s a lack of forgiveness for ourselves when we withhold forgiveness. And I think that should be a serious warning to us. But there’s good on the other side of it.

Jennifer Smith:

We want to encourage you guys and remind you to be the ones that show love in action and treat your spouse just like you want to be treated. Going back to that golden rule I think we mentioned.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah, a few episodes ago.

Jennifer Smith:

A few episodes ago. Speaking of the word episode, when I thought about notes for this episode, I titled it Give and Take, thinking I’ve heard that terminology before. It’s probably more worldly.

Aaron Smith:

I spent a good while trying to work with this concept.

Jennifer Smith:

Give and take in marriage?

Aaron Smith:

I just couldn’t get myself to follow through with it.

Jennifer Smith:

Well, I know, when I told you about it or when you saw it, you were like, “No, that’s not going to work.” And you said to me, “We don’t take in marriage. Christ never came to take. He served and He gave everything in love, and He’s our example.” And I really love that, so I wanted to make note of it, and that’s why we retitled it Give More Than You Take. So just wanted make a note about that.

Aaron Smith:

Because taking… I mean, we’re not Jesus, so taking’s going to happen. Like, I need things from you. I need respect and love and affection and vice versa. But-

Jennifer Smith:

But that’s more like a receiving, right? I mean receiving is different than taking.

Aaron Smith:

Well, it’s receiving if it’s given, right? So the goal is to give, to have a heart of giving to our spouse. Giving of love, giving of time, giving of attention, respect, forgiveness, all the things that we would want given to us.

Jennifer Smith:

So, just to wrap it up, we want to encourage you guys that we can revive the meaning of the word love and what it means in marriage by being doers of love. We dilute the powerful meaning when we only say, “I love you,” but there’s no proof in action. And so our encouragement to you today is to be doers of love. Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Aaron Smith:

Outdo in honor. It’s like a competition. I can love you more. I’m going to outdo you.

Jennifer Smith:

Which leads us right into our growth spurt for the month, which is different. It’s changing since we’re in February now. The growth spurt for anyone new following along is just this little bit at the end where we want to encourage and challenge you guys to do something that will increase individual growth in your life, in your spiritual life, and then also in your marriage. So we’re hoping that-

Aaron Smith:

It’s like a challenge for the month.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. And so it’ll stay the same all month, and so you have some time to work through it, but we hope that it does encourage you. Last month was all about committing to what you say you’re going to do, and we both worked on writing down something that we were working on. Aaron, how did you do?

Aaron Smith:

I would give myself a 37%.

Jennifer Smith:

Oh, man, that’s not good. That’s okay. Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing.

Aaron Smith:

It was more than it was.

Jennifer Smith:

You can keep working on it.

Aaron Smith:

And I am.

Jennifer Smith:

Yep, just keep going and just add this next growth spurt. See what I’m doing here?

Aaron Smith:

Yep. I’m at, just add on.

Jennifer Smith:

Just add on. Okay. So, this month’s growth spurt is love in action. Do a romantic gesture for your spouse. Okay, we’re not going to leave you hanging there. Here’s some examples. You can make him coffee in the morning.

Aaron Smith:

Or her.

Jennifer Smith:

Or her.

Aaron Smith:

These are for both. It’s not just…

Jennifer Smith:

Okay. You can set a flower next to his bedside.

Aaron Smith:

There you go.

Jennifer Smith:

Or hers.

Aaron Smith:

A flower with a letter would be sweet.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. A letter.

Aaron Smith:

You can massage their neck or feet. I know you love getting your feet massaged.

Jennifer Smith:

I like physical touch. Yeah.

Aaron Smith:

Make a favorite meal for dinner and even light candles.

Jennifer Smith:

Ooh.

Aaron Smith:

Make it like a special little thing.

Jennifer Smith:

Sounds nice. You can offer to tackle an area of the house that your spouse usually does. Maybe do it and send them off to go have some me time.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Yep, me time’s a big deal, especially when you have a lot of kids.

Jennifer Smith:

Totally.

Aaron Smith:

Or any kids, actually.

Jennifer Smith:

Something that was really cute that you’ve done for me in the past, this was when you were away for a weekend, but you could still do it just when you’re at home. But send a letter in the mail with actual postage because we don’t have that kind of tactile, “Here’s a letter,” anymore.

Aaron Smith:

Yeah. Pen pal it.

Jennifer Smith:

Yeah. There’s lots of romantic gestures you can do for your spouse. And like Aaron said, this is the month of love and it’s really special. So, be intentional.

Aaron Smith:

Awesome. Why don’t you pray for us?

Jennifer Smith:

Dear Lord, thank you for the way Christ has loved us. Thank you for being our example of true love. Please transform the way we think about love and marriage. Help us to be doers of love and not just people who say, “I love you.” We pray our actions prove and affirm our love for one another. Lord, help us to walk humbly, selflessly, hopeful, and faithful in marriage. Help us to give more than we receive from our spouse. We pray we would be full of your love and aim to love like you love. We pray our marriage honors you and glorifies you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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