~ Agape - The Building Block of Marriage & Family ~
Source: Establishing Godly Relationships Through Marriage & Family
by Deborah L. Butler

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Agape - The Building Block of Marriage & Family

Marriages without agape (the biblical term for love) will most assuredly
end up in disaster. Couples should always be friends, but you can only
build a home on agape. Agape takes time, work, and patience (and there
is a much better chance of developing it before you get married than
after you get married!).

Sometimes you can think you're operating in agape when you're really
not, especially if you've been married awhile. For example, in marriage
counseling, a wife will sometimes say that she feels as if her husband
is putting her down. Then her spouse will say, "I don't make her feel
like that." Immediately, he is on the defensive. Therefore, he isn't
acting out of real love (1 Cor. 13:5).

You see, in a marriage relationship, it doesn't matter how you feel. It
matters how the other person feels.

In the above-mentioned hypothetical case, it is the husband's
responsibility to find out why his wife feels as if he's putting her
down and then talk it out and fix the problem. That's what it means to
operate in agape love.

Agape is not automatic. It's something you have to work on. You have to
work on seeing your mate as valuable and precious. You even have to work
on seeing yourself that way, because you have people telling you just
the opposite.

Some people grew up in homes with parents who told them they were
worthless and that they'd never amount to anything. So they have to
battle that. (This is another reason why it's important not to rush into
a marriage relationship.)

Christian woman, if you're dating a man who grew up in a home where his
parents talked about him and called him all kinds of names other than
the one they gave him at birth, then guess what kind of person with whom
you're going to walk down the aisle! Do you think that person is going
to see you as valuable and precious? He can't even see himself as
valuable and precious! He has to work on renewing his mind until he
starts to see himself the way God sees him.
Sometimes you can hinder a person from working on what he needs to do by
rushing into things. You may be ready, but that doesn't mean the other
person is ready. That's why it's important to pray about every
relationship. The person might be the right one, but God may be telling
you to leave him alone - give him some time and pray that he'll do
what's necessary to see himself as valuable and precious.

Agape in Parenting
Now what we commonly refer to as paternal or maternal love is really
agape. It is present in both the believer and the unbeliever. The
unbeliever is not able to attain to the full level of agape because he
doesn't know where he got what little he has. He's not hooked up or
attached to its source. But the believer is attached to the source of
agape. Your relationship with your children must be based on agape.
Eros, phileo and storge (other forms of love) will not work.

Ten years ago, no one would have had a problem with that, because almost
all of us saw our children as valuable and precious. But today we're
finding that's not true.

Some of the things you hear about people doing to their kids lets you
know that everyone doesn't see their children that way. You have to
realize and understand the value and the preciousness of your home and
those who are in it.

We dismissed a baby-sitter once, because we came home from an event, and
she was on the phone talking about one of our children. If we see our
home and our children as valuable and precious, then we're not going to
have anyone looking after our children who doesn't agree with that.

Our daughter MiChelle has so many different definitions of the kind of
baby and child she was because people have told her all kinds of things.
They said that she cried all the time and that she was a bad baby. But,
truthfully, MiChelle was the happiest of our babies. She rarely ever
cried. I recently told her, "Look. You just need to stop listening to
other people and listen to me and your dad."

Actually, we didn't have any bad children because we believed that the
minute they reacted and responded to the word "no," they were old enough
to be disciplined. But we didn't jump on them for every little thing
they did, either. We knew they were children, not adults. You have to
let children be children.

When you jump on them for every little thing, you're not going to learn
the type of personality they have. You'll try to make them like you, and
they'll hide who they really are from you. But what you don't want is to
have someone around them calling them bad and saying all kinds of
negative things about them. You simply can't let people talk negatively
to your children.

Communicating Agape in the Home
You can see how integral agape should be to the family relationship. As
I said, agape works best at the husband-and-wife level, then with
children to almost the same degree, and then with others. Your children
will never be as close to you as your mate.

There is only one person whom you should see as the most valuable and
precious person on earth, and that is your husband or wife. Next should
come your children, and it is important to make it clear to them that
they are valuable and precious through both your actions and your words.

Most men can do that very easily in action, but they have trouble doing
it in words. That is one of the problems with the last two generations.
Fathers never told their children that they loved them. Likewise,
husbands never told their wives they loved them. They just said, "Look
at all the things I do for you."

But wives and children need to have love communicated to them in action
and in words. Actions alone are not good enough. Love is something that
should constantly be verbally expressed, especially in the Christian
home.

In order to have success in your marriage and family, you have to
recognize the importance of family (by esteeming the value and
preciousness of each member) and establish God's Word as the final
authority in your home.

Source: Establishing Godly Relationships Through Marriage & Family
by Deborah L. Butler
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

 
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