by Pastor Tim Burt
Life isn't fair. If you look for everything in life to be fair, you positively will become discouraged. You will continually create and hold on to expectations from people for certain results that you will not get. Frustrated expectations create great disappointment that eventually causes life to spiral downhill. You'll become a martyr. You'll see yourself as one that lives up to expectations, and others as those that don't. People will disappoint you. God will disappoint you. Life will disappoint you—all because you knowingly or unknowingly were expecting fair!
Circumstances don’t always turn out the way you hoped for or felt was fair. If fair is what you strive for, you’ll be disappointed again and again. So what is the solution? Look to Jesus. He will not disappoint you.
Let me put this in the practical setting of marriage. The amount of marriages I see in trouble today is staggering. There are many reasons for that. Because the world knows nothing about the functioning of a marriage from God's perspective, it has done its best to devalue it and make marriage a throwaway experience—not unlike replacing a car. When people don't know God, they don't understand love. They don't have the perspective of the creator of love. They don't know how to love God and receive His counsel. Consequently, they don't know how to love their spouse.
In bringing the concept of quit looking for fair into marriage, this has helped me more than I can tell you. What most people look for in marriage is fair treatment and/or equal reciprocation of the love they give—right at the time they give it! I love you and do all these things for you and feel like I get little back! It's not right or fair! These words are said so often in relationships that they've begun to sound like a country music song.
When Jesus came to die for me and save me from my sins, He was doing it with nothing coming back His way from me. I was living for the devil in high gear. I didn't even know if I believed in Him. Appreciating Him and giving Him love back wasn't even on my mind. His kind of love is called agape love. It's the God kind of love. It is defined as a love feast, a benevolent love, a selfless love. It's not a love motivated by the return of that love. It’s a love simply motivated by the desire to give. That is the God kind of love.
Early on in my marriage with Renee, God taught me, Don’t look for fair. Fair is confusing. It is because it feels impossible and is often an impossible target to hit and rarely performed to anyone's satisfaction. Fair is rarely communicated well and expressed as giving to get. The Lord told me, I want you to love Renee like I first loved you—with an agape love—a love that gives regardless of whether anything comes back! And do so because it’s right! It’s what I have modeled for you.
When I heard those words, they set me free. Free of looking for fair and free of the expectations I grudgingly held inside. It's easier to love because it's right than because I should. It gets rid of the expectation of equal reciprocation from the desire and expectation of fairness. It was like the lights came on. I could see it as my job description: love Renee with God's agape love! It didn't have anything to with her loving me back. That was her job description and it was between her and God.
This revolutionized our marriage. It gave Renee a taste of agape love—ongoing love without expectation of reciprocation. No guilt trips. No manipulation. Just love. Giving love this way changed me in so many ways, it's difficult to describe. It changed her also! Her love toward me began to change for the better. Our marriage blossomed. As I look back now, I know that we've learned to love each other because it's right, not out of looking for the fair and equal response. It offers grace to each of us when we are lacking in our efforts. As I began to walk in this truth, the Lord took my understanding and execution of love to another level.
I have met people who have told me that their emotional love with their mate is absolutely gone—that they couldn't love their mate again short of a miracle. Let me tell you that this approach has resulted in many miracles. You see when you honor God by obeying His instruction for how to love, results do come! When you stop looking for fairness and love like Jesus, with an agape love, things do change. Your emotions do follow. Love is re-birthed.
God tells us to never be ignorant of the devil's devises (2 Corinthians 2:11.) Every time God leads you in a truth, Satan will try to undermine your efforts so that you will end up saying, That doesn't work for me or this won't work for us. When you begin to walk this out, initially, it might feel like the exact opposite of what you want to do. It might also be the very trigger that brings God's miraculous touch to your marriage and love for each other.
In life we do what Romans 12:10 says! We are to give agape love toward everyone without looking for fair. It says, “Be tender loving one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” With our spouses, we ramp that up to the highest level and use our marriage as the place to practice and perfect it! Learn and practice this in your marriage and you'll blessed beyond imagination and have the kind of marriage God wanted you to have. Not perfect but definitely full of flowing love!
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NKJV) "Let all that you do be done with love"
1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV) "Love never fails"
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt