What God Revealed to Hosea and Peter About Love and Respect
Are you like my wife Sarah and me? We prefer to live according to our selfish nature. I prefer to be unloving to motivate Sarah to show me respect. Sarah prefers to be disrespectful to motivate me to show her love.
You know, unholy means to achieve holy ends.
Do you try to live that way? How’s it workin’ for you?
IT NEVER WORKS
The world says the way you bring your husband under conviction is by showing him disrespect to motivate him to be loving. But a man shuts down and pulls back.
And the world tells a man to be unloving to “show that woman to start giving you more respect.” But what wife responds to that approach?
So we have holy ends, but we use unholy means. And you can’t achieve worthy ends through unholy means.
It never works for me and Sarah. It’s not going to work.
And God isn’t pleased with that.
THE POWER OF THE UNCONDITIONAL
One day Sarah and I heard God calling us in Ephesians 5:33 to choose obedience to His command to love and respect unconditionally. This command applies regardless of the situation, circumstance or condition.
At first we felt this was impossible and even if we could do it we were afraid the other would take advantage of us. But as much as we wish to assign blame to our spouse for our sinful reactions, the truth is we are disobeying God when we are unloving and disrespectful.
Although intimidating at first, this command liberates us. Sarah and I are free to be who God calls us to be!
WHAT DOES UNCONDITIONAL LOOK LIKE?
The dictionary defines unconditional as not limited by conditions.
Love and respect is not “limited by conditions.”
What does a husband look like who loves without limits? He is a loving man though his wife is not always lovable or respectful. He does not blame her for his harshness and anger.
What does a wife look like who respects without restraints? She is a respectful person though her husband is not always respectable or loving. She does not condemn him for her negativity and contempt.
Though the “conditions” are unfair, those conditions do not make us hostile and contemptuous. There is no circumstance that can force us to stop showing love and respect. We are free to love and respect independent of the other person. It is our choice to make.
We observe this truth about unconditional love and respect when reading Hosea and Peter in the Bible.
God instructed Hosea to marry Gomer. She proved unfaithful, as God foretold (Hosea 1:2). Hosea tells us, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes’” (Hosea 3:1).
Clearly Hosea demonstrates his love toward Gomer independent of her behavior. Hosea does not accept her adultery but loves her in spite of her adultery. He does not enable her to stay in sin but seeks to draw her away from such sin by his love. He seeks to restore the marriage with a love that Gomer’s condition cannot stop.
This is how any husband wins a wife who fails to be lovable or respectful. Actually, it is the only way.
The Apostle Peter zeroes in on unconditional respect from a wife. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 some wives were asking Peter, “My husband is disobedient to the Word. What do I do? How do I win him back?”
Peter replies that when a husband is “disobedient to the word” he may be “won” by the wife’s “respectful behavior.”
How can this be? A disobedient husband does not deserve respect; he has not earned respect.
But a wife’s respectful demeanor, not her contemptuous manner, brings him under conviction.
Never does she compromise her love and reverence for Christ by going along with her husband’s demand that she sin. This does not mean that there are no boundaries in a relationship! But because of her respectful attitude toward his inner person and her choice to believe in her husband more than he believes in himself, she draws him to herself. Many wives attest that she was not a doormat to him but a welcoming mat, and he repented and returned home to do life with her.
Obviously, one does not love and respect unconditionally to get the other to perform this way, otherwise it is not unconditional. We don’t do the unconditional to get a response.
But we get a response when we do the unconditional – most of the time. The truth, is a good willed spouse inevitably responds.
A POWERFUL IMPACT
Is this easy to do? No. But the powerful impact is incredible. I have thousands of emails testifying to this!
A husband writes, “I took the concentrated alone time in the car to tell (my wife) about what God had convicted me of and to repent to her for loving her conditionally, and I committed to her to love her unconditionally. It was a beginning to a very new time in our marriage.”
When a husband loves his wife no matter what, she responds, serves, and honors.
A wife says, “I must say that this is changing our lives! I had never heard of unconditional respect. And I too believed that a man had to earn respect.”
When a wife puts on respect while confronting her husband, he stays engaged, he connects with her, and he loves her.
A person writes, “Thank you so much for the tools you’ve given us to make our marriage a strong, healthy one full of unconditional love and unconditional respect!! You’ve helped turn our “good” marriage into a “great” one!
How’s that workin’ for them?
Holy means produce a worthy end. I can hear Hosea and Peter shouting, “Hallelujah! Amen!”