Summary: If you want to be an effective lover, demonstrate GRACE in all your relationships; love freely and without conditions.
It was tax season, and Jane Osinki decided to surprise her husband, Henry, by getting their tax information in to their CPA early. She picked up the tax package their CPA had sent, scanned the forms, and noticed that Henry had already filled in some of the lines.
To the question, “Did your marital status change?” he had circled “Yes.” As far as Jane knew, they weren't considering separation or divorce. In fact, they would soon celebrate their 50th anniversary – unless he had other plans.
She moved her hand to uncover the next two words: “Older … better.” She liked that change in status! (Jane M.D. Osinki, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 6)
Older and better – that’s because they had learned to love each other well, and that can be the story of your relationships, too! In fact, there are 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will work in any relationship to make it better over the years. There are 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will improve not only your marriages, but also your relationships with your friends, your adult children, and even your co-workers.
We’re studying the book of Galatians together, and so far the Apostle Paul has appealed to the heads of his readers. He’s presented logical and theological arguments to prove that believers in Christ are free from the law.
Now, he is going to appeal to their hearts. He is going to appeal to his readers based on the relationship they have with him. And in that relationship, we’ll see those 7 habits of highly effective lovers that will improve any relationship. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Galatians 4, Galatians 4, where Paul describes his relationship with the believers in Galatia.
Galatians 4:12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. (ESV)
“We have a good relationship; so be free like me,” Paul says, “for I became as you are.” When Paul, a Jew, came to Galatia, he didn’t expect the Gentiles there to conform to his Jewish ways for them to be in relationship with him. On the contrary, Paul conformed to their ways. He adapted himself to them. He changed himself without demanding that they change for them to become his friends.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says, “I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law… so as to win those not having the law… I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
Paul adjusted himself to the people he was trying to reach, and that’s what you must do if you want to become a highly effective lover. You must…
Adapt yourself. Change yourself for others without demanding that they change for you.
I remember Joni Eareckson Tada describing one of her first dates with Ken Tada, the man who is now her husband. She was concerned that he would not be able to lift her out of her wheelchair, so she lost weight to make it easier for him. On the other hand, he lifted weights in preparation for their date, getting himself ready for her special needs.
That’s true love, my friends – each adjusting to the other. It’s the first habit of a highly effective lover, and if you want your relationships to improve, then adjust yourself to those you love; don’t demand that they adjust themselves to you. 2nd, if you want to be a highly effective lover…
ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE.
Receive them. Welcome them even with their imperfections. That’s how the Galatian believers received Paul.
Galatians 4:13-14 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. (ESV)
When Paul came to Galatia, many Bible scholars believe he had malaria. He had just come from Perga, a town near the southern coast of what is now Turkey. It’s a low swampy area, which makes a good breeding ground for malaria infected mosquitoes.
Now, malaria itself is a terrible disease. The one who suffers with it has periodic bouts with chills, fever and nausea every 48 to 72 hours. And after each attack, the sufferer is left weak and feeling absolutely wasted until the next attack.
Malaria is also a repulsive disease. John Mark was traveling with Paul at the time, and Acts 13:13 says Mark left Paul in Perga and went home. I think he saw Paul throwing up all the time, so weak he couldn’t even get out of bed, and Mark said to himself, “This missionary life is not for me. I’m out of here.”