Love for the Sake of Love
In the Old Testament in the Book of Job, the devil questions God’s claim that Job is a righteous man. He points out that God is using fear of punishment and the use of rewards to pressure Job’s decisions and that if these were removed Job would not be the righteous person God claims him to be. Recognizing the devil’s argument, God removes the influence of reward and punishment and allows Job to be tested. It is free choice at its purest!
In our relationships we are faced with a similar situation. Because of our desire to get our love, attention and affection needs met, we sometimes employ methods such as manipulation and bartering to get what we require from our partner. It is not uncommon to see couples who profess eternal love, haggling and utilizing unhealthy influences over one another to get their emotional needs met. Some people convince themselves that if they do not use these methods they may not get what they need, or be given less than they deserve. When this type of a relationship takes hold, it is the balance sheet that dominates a couple’s attitudes and actions. If someone believes that they have contributed more than the other person to the relationship, they can become bitter and petty while they wait for their partner to make things even.
In the biblical example of Job, Job demonstrates that it is possible to do good for the sake of good, to love for the sake of love and to keep a promise for the sake of the promise regardless of the anticipated return. In essence, God was willing to have the strength of His relationship with Job tested without using manipulation or barter to influence Job’s choices.
To make this useful in our relationships, we need to be willing to pose a question to ourselves, “Can the opportunity to love and care for another person become its own reward and are we willing to love another person purely for the sake of love?”
Now, imagine two people making a promise to one another that regardless of the circumstances they will never manipulate or barter with each other for the most precious thing they have to offer, their love!
Ask your partner if they recognize how much both of you are bartering and manipulating each other to get your emotional needs met. Suggest to your partner a one week experiment where the motive for your actions is, “Love for the sake of love.” Promise each other that you will not use rewards or punishment to get your needs met. During this one week, focus on the idea that caring for another person (your partner) is its own reward. At the end of the week be honest with each other about what you have discovered and how this new perspective has affected your relationship.