Saturday, March 29, 2014

Give, give, give

What is the secret to a happy marriage?
Where to begin, right?
Well, you could start with someone who has been married for a long time. Seventy-three years qualifies as long, wouldn't you agree? In fact, it deserves a word more expressive than long. Seventy-three years of marriage is worthy of a word not even in the dictionary yet. Someone needs to come up with one. I'll start working on that but until then I'll just read up on Barbara "Cutie" Cooper's advice about marriage.

Harry and Barbara met in Los Angeles in the 1930's. They married and the rest is history. Seventy-three years worth, to be exact. They lived in LA, raised a family and became an internet sensation thanks to their blog "The Original Grandparents" or "The OGs." Thanks to their grandchildren, the legacy of "PopPop" and "Cutie" and their marriage advice will live on, complete with their own theme song. 
The blog that once featured the married couple became a solo endeavor in 2010 when Harry passed away. Cutie continued to write on and even penned a book with the help of her family. In it she shares funny stories, observations about life and, of course, marriage advice. She covers topics like greeting one another to making time for love. My favorite piece of advice has to be this simple little nugget, "give, give, give."
Cutie tells her interviewer that often times people rely on the emotion of love to keep them going. They focus on, "love, love, love." But Cutie has a different perspective. "It's about give, give, give," she says.
Isn't that true of all of our relationships? Love is a beautiful emotion but without the giving it tends to fall flat. I can claim that I have love but if I don't give then my love is nothing more than empty words, sure to disappoint. 
I'm not married, not even expecting a phone call for a first date anytime soon, but I can learn a thing or two from Cutie. Her advice is relevant for the married, single, old and young. Love is more than an emotion, it is an action. To practice love requires the practice of giving. 

Jesus was the living, breathing picture of this principle. Because of His great love He gave up His very life on a cross.  John 3:16 says, "We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us." That is love. Jesus didn't just say that He loved us, He showed it with the ultimate sacrifice, His very body. He gave everything to save those He loves. 
As a Christ follower, I too must love in more than simple words. As the saying goes, "talk is cheap." As 1 John 3:18 says, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." I can talk all day long but if I never give then my words are meaningless. Worse off, they can be hypocritical, giving rise to a false testimony and tarnished witness.
Giving out of the depths of love isn't just for those whose names are stamped on a marriage certificate. It is for anyone and everyone who calls themselves a Christian. Giving is essential. Not only am I to give in obedience to God's word but giving is the secret to healthy relationships. Just ask Cutie.
Whether or not I ever marry, I want to have thriving relationships with my family, friends, church congregation, grocery store clerk or even the next stranger I cross paths with walking out of this Panera Bread today. I can accomplish that by giving out of the love of Christ. Not by my own love which is conditional, weak and unreliable but out of Jesus Christ's unfailing love that can be mine to share when I invite the Holy Spirit to come in and invade my heart. By the indwelling of Christ I will be a true lover who gives, not simply a lover by word alone. I will show my love by following the advice of Cutie and the example of Christ: "give, give, give."

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