Lovely & Loving with Love
pious advice from
The Mutual Duties of Husbands & Wives
by Richard Baxter
Have you considered the power of love? In God's eyes, love is a relational antidote.
Listen to the counsel Richard Baxter offered the troubled couples under his pastoral care:
"Overcome them with love;
and then they will be loving to you,
and consequently lovely.
Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire.
A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife [and vice versa]."
Baxter's advice probably sounds idealistic or utopian to the modern reader. It might even sound like an animated Disney plot line. But Baxter's words summarize the teaching of Romans 12:22:
"Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good."
Baxter reminds us that in God's economy love breeds love and a lovely character will only grow when it is showered with constant affection.
Marriages can easily become trapped in a tailspin of contempt. A snarky remark is met with a heavey, heaving sign. This only fuels further aggravation. It is revenge in the raw as the relationship begins a downward spiral.
But the way to redeem your spouse is through an outpouring of undeserved affection.
This love, we should note, is not the same as silence. We often think that silence is the highway to healing.
"If I just keep quite," he thinks, "all will pass and be well."
But while silence certainly has its place, it is not the true balm for relational sores. We must be challenged to think of love as loud. That is, a proactive (not passive) love.
It is the little note left on at their place setting, the flowers that you brought home for no reason, or the helping hand you give in the weekend chores. It is acts like these that transform people.
God's word says that acts of charity will, in His time, create a charitable frame of spirit in the disgruntled one. And we should be confident it will!
This is, after all, the same method that Christ uses with His people. The Lord pours forth his love from heaven and charms us by it. The gospel is the gospel of love, and the more we hear it, the more we are wooed by it.
My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?