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Say It, Mean It

Love starts at home.

Today, it’ll be said hundreds of thousands of times. It may be in the words, “I love you.” Or it may be in the doggerel:

Will you be my valentine? No one else will do;
I hope you love me half as much as I love you.

But only on Valentine’s Day? I heard of one man who said he loved his wife. After all, he had told her once when they wed 35 years ago! And I learned that one zinger of a retort can eliminate 20 compliments. So why are we so good at retorts — and so slow at compliments?

This is not an idle question. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

How frequently we apply that to our relationships with other Christians. But doesn’t love start at home? I think it applies equally — maybe more so — to spouse, children, and parents. At home, our most unlovable traits come to the fore. Why have some children lost out with God and the church? Because of the inconsistencies they see at home. It may well be easier to show love to other people than to remember to show love at home.

We men don’t have any room to argue this point. Ephesians 5:25 says it clearly: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

Not telling her once every 35 years. Not keeping a list of all the things she should do better. Not just saying that you love her, but also showing it by the things you do to make her life brighter.

For wives, the Bible talks about submitting to their own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). This was written when marriages were decided upon by parents. It is not necessarily the situation of today, but the principle stands: that submission will be expressed in love. And Titus 2:4 speaks of the wife loving her husband.

Children are to obey and honor their parents, for, as the Bible says, “This is right” (Ephesians 6:1). It is based on the first commandment that had a promise along with it: “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (v.3).

But we’re talking about more than promises here, as important as they are. We’re talking about the saved and the unsaved knowing, when they see us at home, that we really do belong to Christ because we have His love for each other — in our homes. We’re talking about people looking at our lives and seeing a glimpse of heaven.

Love like this doesn’t just happen. It’s not enough to talk about it or to say we ought to have it. Love like this comes from a closer walk with Jesus, letting His characteristics flow through us each moment. That has to be all the time, not just on Valentine’s Day.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel.

Richard Champion

The late Richard "Dick" Champion served as editor of the Pentecostal Evangel magazine from 1984-94. Prior to that he served as managing editor (1964-84). A prolific writer, he was the author of three books, and hundreds of articles.