“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
I am amazed by the diversity of comments and questions I receive daily in response to the
articles posted on this Blog. They range from expression of gratitude to bad attitude, some rhetorical or ridiculous and others are simple and sincere. I read and accept them all, some with a grain of salt and others with my delete key. Recently, I was asked: “What does love between a godly man and woman look like?” This one fell into the sincere class and surely warranted a reply after some sincere thought on my part.
First thing first, let’s define “godly” a term that is applicable to male and female. A godly person is one who is devoted to and worships God, fit for or having the divine qualities of God. Also, there is a list of attributes we can use to identify the godly such as devout, holy, pious, saintly, religious, good and righteous. Can you think of anyone that meets these basic criteria? Jesus! The most-godly man who ever walked the earth is our God-given example of what it means to be godly. Those who follow his example are called Christians and Christians (male and female) are supposed to be godly.
God created the male of our species first, giving Adam dominion over the earth and
everything therein. It is more than fair to say that the man has the most responsibility
for the relationship in a marriage. I skipped courtship and dating because, personally,
I do not feel that love develops during either of these two rituals. The seeds are planted and the ground watered but commitment (marriage) is where the fruit is produced. The Apostle Paul says; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). This is an excellent scriptural foundation for godly love and I will offer examples of relationships between well-known biblical couples:
Adam and Eve—before and after the first sin, were living according to God’s plan for them. Adam was in charge of the Garden and Eve was his help mate, partner and loyal companion, Eve did not disobey Adam she disobeyed God. After being chastened and chased out of the Garden she remained Adams loving and loyal wife and became the mother of his children and the mother of the earth. What does love look like between a godly man and woman? It looks like it did in the beginning, purposeful, divine and filled
with godly promise.
Moses and Zipporah—Zipporah is one of the great women of the Bible who is often overlooked in light of Moses’ important work, but she may have saved his life. Zipporah is only mentioned once in the Bible, notably in Number 12:1, where she is referred to as “the
Ethiopian woman.” Moses had been in Midian for forty years when God sent him back to Egypt to rescue his people. He asked his father-in-law’s permission, gathered his wife and sons and set off for Egypt. On their way, the Lord confronted Moses and was about to kill him for not fulfilling the Jewish requirement of circumcision for his son. It is thought that Moses may have been very ill because Zipporah took a knife and circumcised their son herself, saving Moses’ life. Then she touched the knife to Moses’ feet saying, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” It is a powerful woman than can step aside without stepping back to allow her man to pursue the calling of God and still do whatever is necessary to save him and their offspring.
Abraham and Sarah—the great patriarch and matriarch of the Old Testament and parents of the nations of the earth as declared by God. You cannot be more-godly than that, “For Abraham believed God and it was accorded to him as righteousness.” Abraham believed God, Sara did not, she was amused by the promise of God to the point of laughter, but she did not refuse her husband the pleasures of her body even in old age even though both bodies were “as good as dead.” That is the beauty of godly companionship, faithfulness throughout life, youth and old age, from the cradle to the grave. Sarah (Sarai) Abraham’s wife gave birth to his son Isaac. At Sarah’s suggestion before she bore Isaac, Abraham was given permission to lay with Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, and she gave birth to Ishmael. Sarah’s suggestion that Abraham lay with her maidservant was an attempt to
fulfill his wish for an heir and an everlasting example of her love for him.
Jacob and Rachel—Rachel is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 29 when Jacob happens upon her as she is watering her lamb. He had traveled a great distance to find his mother’s brother, Laban. Rebekah had sent him there to escape the fury of his angry twin brother, Esau. During Jacob’s stay, he fell in love with Rachel and agreed to work seven years for Laban in return for her hand in marriage. On the night of the wedding, the bride was veiled and Jacob did not notice that Leah, Rachel’s older sister, had been substituted for Rachel. Whereas “Rachel was lovely in form and beautiful,” “Leah had weak eyes.”
Later Jacob confronted Laban, who excused his own deception by insisting that the older sister should marry first. He assured Jacob that after his wedding week was finished, he could take Rachel as a wife as well, and work another seven years as payment for her.
After Leah had given birth to four sons, Rachel remained unable to conceive. She became jealous of Leah and gave Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah, to be a substitute mother for her. Bilhah gave birth to two sons: Dan and Naphtali. After Leah conceived again, Rachel was finally blessed with a son, Joseph, who would become Jacob’s favorite child. Rachel was Jacob’s second wife but was known as “his beloved” after having married her sister Leah first, and fathered seven sons by two other women, her sister and a maidservant, she
remained faithful to him.
Love is the most powerful of all emotions, it will make ordinary men and women do
extraordinary things because of its presence in their hearts and lives. Unfortunately,
every adversity or challenge that confronts the ungodly may be found in the lives of the godly. This does not happen because of some perverted notion of social-equality or justice but because the godly share an ungodly world.
The beauty of godly love lies in the proposition that our expectations are neither found nor bound in the potential or promise of our mate but in the promises of the God of the godly. Men or women have never delivered everything they have promised, God has. It seems reasonable to expect a godly person to be more willing to allow himself or herself to be a holy vessel that the will of God flows into and through to deliver the promise of love. The only expectation is that God will “Do as thou hast said, that thy name may be magnified forever” (I-Chronicles 17:23-24).
No God, No Love. Know God and Know Love. It is the everlasting faithfulness of God’s love that makes a godly promise of love “exceedingly great and precious.” Human promises are often worthless. Many broken promises have left many broken hearts, male and female. But since the world was made, God has never broken a single promise made to one of His trusting children. God promised love and put the promise on display on the Cross of Calvary with Jesus hanging there. However you may imagine the love of God or the love of Jesus you have an example. Look in the mirror until you see God staring back at you then you will know what godly love looks like.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). I pray the words found here will give you a more meaningful understanding that love is what keeps the world in motion and that without it everything would come to a screeching halt. I am so glad that God loves us and love us enough to have given us the most excellent example in the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God
is Love and love cannot be godly without Him.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ