In the past two posts, we’ve discussed the relationship cycles Emerson Eggerichs’ talks about in his book, Love and Respect. The first two cycles are the crazy cycle and the energizing cycle… so what is the rewarded cycle?
Nothing to Do with Us
The rewarded cycle has nothing to do with us pleasing ourselves or each other, but it has everything to do with pleasing God. In short, the rewarded cycle says says: “His love / regardless of / her respect / regardless of”. This should be read: His love regardless of her respect. Her respect regardless of his love.
If you were to talk to a hundred random people on the street about the concept of the rewarded cycle, chances are that you would get a lot of smirks, blank stares, or looks of shock and awe. This cycle is a concept only those who are regenerated (e.g., a Christian) can understand. The Bible says in I Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
An Act of Worship
Choosing to give love or respect regardless of the circumstances you’re in is an act of worship to the Lord. God tells us to obey Him and His Word clearly states that women are to respect their husbands and men are to love their wives. The Bible never said for a woman to respect her husband only if he loved her like Christ loved the church; and, it never said for a man to love his wife like Christ loved the church only if she showed him respect. Obeying God in this area is a complete pride-breaker. You can’t serve the Lord fully and be filled to your ears with foolish, evil, self-centered pride. One of the most freeing statements I ever read (and started living by) was, “It’s not about you.”
So let us, one last time, again visit the home of John and Mary. John’s been going through a rough patch at work and his weariness is spilling over into his marriage. He comes home later and later each night, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel to give him hope. He’s short tempered, grumpy, and mad at the world. In fact, Mary is sometimes uncomfortable asking him questions or making comments for fear that he may react harshly.
Then it happens. In the midst of a conversation, John misunderstands something Mary says, becomes sorely offended, and calls her a hateful, vicious name. She’s never felt so unloved the entire time they’ve been married. For a second, she considers her options… “I could come back at him with every filthy word I can think of. I could get up, leave the room, and give him the cold shoulder for days. I could start sobbing in an attempt to manipulate an apology out of him. In fact, I could even pack my bags and leave. I don’t have to put up with this.”
Sure, Mary has all of these options, but because of her love for and devotion to the Lord, she is determined to honor her wedding vows and to honor God by respecting her husband. Did he deserve respect after calling her an awful name? He surely did not. Does he deserve respect simply because he’s the man in the relationship? Nope! He doesn’t deserve respect in that instance; yet, respect is what God commands Mary to give him. In the same vein, Mary does not inherently deserve his love. By God, he’s commanded to love her and will reap bitter fruit if he decides not to do so.
Before you get mad at John, let me assure you that Mary has her less than stellar days too. Being married to a fallen creature is tough and your future spouse will think so too! ~smile~ Living on the rewarded cycle goes completely against our sin nature, but we do so as an act of worship and submission to God. When you choose to love your future wife even though she’s about as friendly as a porcupine, you are really showing your love and devotion to God. She doesn’t deserve your love, but she needs it. When you choose to respect your future husband even when he ignores you and brushes you aside, you are really showing your respect and devotion to God. He (your future husband) doesn’t deserve your respect, but he needs it.
Ultimately, everything we do, we do for the glory of God. If I respect Eric unconditionally and he chooses to act unloving toward me anyway, I am still motivated to respect him because my primary and ultimate goal is to honor and glorify my King. If Eric loves on me and goes out of his way to show me affection and I spit on his efforts, he is still motivated to love me because his ultimate goal is to honor and glorify his King.
Many of us can quote I Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (ESV)” We can take great joy in knowing that we are not loving and respecting our spouses in vain. God is glorified by our obedience. If that doesn’t motivate God’s children, nothing will! ~smile~
Closing Shout Out
Once again, I have to give a shout out to Emerson Eggerichs, author of one of my favorite relationship books, Love and Respect. Eric and I have greatly benefited from this book’s message and we believe you and your sweetheart will benefit from it as well!
When life gets hectic, how will you remind yourself to live on the rewarded cycle?