Who’s Got the Love Monkey?

kids.jpegThe previous post has endeared you to our simian friends just in time for the release of the Feb ’08 issue of Focus on the Family Magazine.

Check it out, because I have an article in it. Ironically, I haven’t received my issue of the magazine yet, so I haven’t even seen my article in print. As far as I can find, it’s not yet on their online sites yet either.

[On Feb 11 or so, the online version became available!  Click here.]

dodge-monkey.jpgI write about love–about the difference between attraction love (in which I love you because YOU attract ME) and virtue love (in which I love you because I possess the inner virtue and strength to love you). The monkey’s on my back to keep on loving you even when you aren’t so loveable.

““But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” ““For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:44, 46, NKJV.

So far the article has gotten a couple of positive comments. You can read them here and here. Thanks to Jeff and Julie for the kind remarks.

couple-2.jpegLove wasn’t just the core message of Jesus, it was his core motivation (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8). Virtue love, tending and feeding the Love Monkey, is the acid test of spiritual maturity. It is also impossible for us to sustain apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ within.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5, NKJV.

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,” 1 Peter 1:22, NKJV.

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8 thoughts on “Who’s Got the Love Monkey?

  1. I got mine yesterday too. Great article! Sometimes, that monkey gets pretty heavy…Is that part of the “yoke” thingy??

    Congrats! You do write so very well, clearly, and Biblically. I truly thank God for you in my life.

  2. I read the article about Love management. I was blessed by it because I had recently had a discussion with my mother on how I have stayed married to the same fellow for 33 years (this March 8th) It was not easy. There were many obstacles to overcome. I can honestly say that by practicing the message of Love Management, we are far happier now than we ever were before in those early years. We are bonded by not only the fun and joy, but also by the trials. It has not always been a mutually equal relationship. I often felt that I gave more and put up with more. The parable that Jesus told of the slave that demanded all the money from his fellow slave after he had been forgiven by his master is a reminder to me that there are some times that we demand the debt from folks that do not have the resources at hand or the ability to pay back. God becomes your “bank” with unlimited resources and will not ever fail. I couldn’t have realized as I said my vows before God so long ago what I was really getting into. It has been a wonderful journey, I would encourage people to give long term marriage their best shot. With God’s help it is possible and DESIRABLE!

    jj
    PS-this does NOT apply to people is violent and abusive relationships. If you or your kids are in danger, DON’T live with it. If you insist on loving that abusive spouse, PLEASE distance yourself from it while you pray and make wise decisions about the future of your marriage. I say this because I once encouraged a cousin to stay married, not aware of her true situation. It took the kidnapping of her children by a very violent and mean husband to wake us all up to what the cousin was really going through. I regret my advice and do not encourage ANYONE to let themselves be a punching bag.

  3. Bill,
    Please post your article on this website, if you can. The Focus on the Family webpage does not appear to have even an “archive” of articles, so perhaps articles from the hard copy magazine do not appear on their website(?)
    God bless.
    Joe

  4. Dear Janice,
    Thank you for your kind comments and yes, I completely agree. The debt of love does not extend to abusive relationships. Get out of there, and get yourself and your kids out of danger.
    Bill

    Dear Joe,
    I can’t post the article on my website because of copyright restrictions. As soon as it appears on any Focus website, I’ll link to it.
    Thanks for asking,
    Bill

  5. Pastor Bill:

    I am truly looking forward to the article you wrote in Focus with the Family. I thank God daily for bringing you our way. You have been a blessing to me and my family. May God continue to bless you with your sermons (teachings).

    May God continue to bless you and your teachings.

    Janet/Viola

  6. Bill,

    Your points hit some heart strings because sometimes I struggle with loving people based on my virtue love (Christian character). The default tendency of my human nature — or your human nature — (unfortunately) is to treat people on the attractiveness of THEIR personality, appearance, or character, which (as you rightly state) is to put the “monkey” on their back. Your description of the yoke — or monkey — we carry on OUR back is a refreshing reference you had taught in Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” The New Testament describes this law of Christ (unlike its Old Testament counterpart) as something not burdensome to us Christians (like the Old Testament Law was), which — by the way — would certainly qualify as a real monkey on your back! (See Acts 15:10).

    In other words, the yoke — monkey — of the Law of Christ (to love others as oneself) is supposed to be heavy (like a monkey) but “light” and “not burdensome” (Matt 11:29-30). Also, First John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” The image of a (circus?) monkey on your back (pulling your hair out?) might convey the image of legal compulsion, which is why the burden of a (light) yoke based on grace sounds more appealing. Loving other Christians “without hypocrisy” is the appeal of Rom 12:9, 2 Cor 6:6, & 1 Tim 1:5.)

    But do not get me wrong. The monkey analogy is refreshing, witty, relevant, contemporary, and funny, but if (at first blush) it conveys some legal compulsion or unwillingness to love (which was NOT your intent, I know), the result would be inauthenticity — God forbid! But what would you think if I told you that I loved you (“virtue love”) because “the monkey was on my back” (smile)…? The levity of the image makes the love sound disingenuous or forced (under religious legal compulsion), as opposed to something willed from grace in my soul by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    You did NOT intend to convey that image — we all know that!!! — because the point you made is clear: we need to love others as ourselves in the power (fruit) of the Holy Spirit.

    It is just the image or illustration of a monkey on your back conveys a levity to me (i.e., “it’s simply Christian monkey business!!”) that does not feel entirely consistent with having an intentional, positive, and sincere love for me, your poor, hapless (and at times disgraceful) and unattractive brother in Christ.

    Chuck Swindoll gave a very moving message on inauthenticity & insincerity of “Christian Love” during a chapel event at Dallas Theological Seminary. (See “Snapshots of a Real Christian,” March 22, 2005, found at http://www.dts.edu/media/play/?MediaItemID=a90f5d2f-1c08-4eb4-8739-4dac3f2b7ca7&audio=true ).

    It is VERY rare that I shed tears at a sermon message — gotta live up to that macho man image!! — and over the years I have heard dozens of messages by Chuck Swindoll — but this one really did me in really hard.

    Grace.
    Joe

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