I was reading a new book by a Christian author who pointed out how often we use the language of finance when we talk about relationships. We “value” a friend. We “invest in” a relationship. The author went on to say that we commonly use our love in the same way we use money: to get what we want.
I had to stop and check my own marriage relationship: Do I give/withhold courtesy, attention or affection to/from my husband, depending on whether David’s behavior pleases or upsets me? In all honesty, I had to admit that sometimes my love is conditional toward him. Sometimes I do use love like money.
This is not the way of grace and mercy. This is not Christ’s way. This is not kingdom behavior. God’s love does not depend on my good behavior; there’s no way I can earn his approval or salvation. Jesus gave his life for me, and God accepts me and welcomes me into his family because I trust Christ’s work on my behalf.
Simon the Sorcerer failed to realize that some things in life are priceless. When he saw the powerful effects of the apostles’ prayers, Simon wanted to buy what was in their “bag of tricks”: “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:19). Peter’s response was to rebuke Simon sternly, saying, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” (verse 20). Simon the Sorcerer hadn’t figured out that the gifts of God are given by God’s grace and goodness alone; they cannot be earned or bought.
I’m afraid my attempts to freely offer love and kindness to others, as Jesus would, will be a lifelong challenge for me. My consumer mentality seems too deeply rooted. But I want to love others without considering what they might think of me or what they might “owe” me. At home, that means choosing to love David through all my actions and attitudes, whether or not I think he’s “earned” my affection.
Many times when one spouse behaves with grace and love toward an undeserving spouse, the spouse reciprocates with a renewed attempt to be gracious and loving, but there are no guarantees. In the end, I must choose to give my love freely, not in an attempt to manipulate my husband or get him to treat me well, but only because I want to please the Lord.
Money can’t buy lasting love, and I don’t want to use my love like money. In the end I’ll be more gratified in receiving David’s love and affection if I know I haven’t manipulated his attention with a bag of tricks or with strategies of conditional love. My goal is to love him freely, the way God has loved me.
Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible