It’s gone! I yelled to my wife as I walked in the door of our house after a long day at work. I feel sick to my stomach and angry at the same time. Pulling into our driveway, I knew it right away. There is nothing left but pieces of a broken lock. Now I am frantically searching and dialing the number for the local police. I don’t think this has ever happened to me before. Suddenly, I am a helpless victim of a crime.
I work hard for my money and I had saved up for months to buy it. And just like that it was gone. The police came out right away. It’s stolen, someone took it when I wasn’t looking. How could they? How dare they take something that did not belong to them? I am filling out a police report and describing what they took. It was there when I left for work that morning, I think. It’s gone now. I don’t know what else to say.
Everyone knows how I could have prevented it. It’s like everyone I know has become a Monday morning quarterback, telling me what I should have done on gameday. I should have hid it. I should have used better locks. I should have made it harder to steal. I should have bought insurance. But none of this is helping, because my stuff is gone and I can’t get it back.
I am going to search everywhere. I am going to get it back. But I don’t know where to look or who stole it, or why. So I start looking on craigslist thinking they would sell it for money. I even go to look at some for sale to see if it is mine. Once I met these shady guys behind a gas station to look at one. I think one of them had a gun under his shirt! I immediately knew it wasn’t mine and they were angry that I wasted their time, like it is my fault someone stole from me. I even found a suspect and staked out his property like a private eye for a while to see it I could find it. I don’t know what I would have done? I just wanted my stuff back.
It feels helpless to lose something that is valuable to you. Even worse to know that someone else has it and is enjoying it somewhere. For months I would stop and look every time I saw someone with a trailer like mine. Is that one it? No, mine is gone.
Maybe I should be flattered that someone wanted what I had. Maybe I should be thankful I was able to have what I lost. Or maybe I will get another one someday. I just can’t have that one back.
But I wonder if the thief really just reminded me to protect all things that he didn’t take.
If you have love, you have something that everyone in this world is after. So you have to protect it from thieves. You have to hold it so tightly that no one can take it from you.
These are the three thieves of true love and this is how you keep them from stealing from YOU!
1. The Thief of Familiarity
Familiarity breeds contempt. It’s one of those overused sayings that actually has a lot of meaning. There is this danger of getting close to someone. You learn all their faults and failures and in doing so lose your respect for them. Something similar happens when you get married and start living together. You see all the things you missed when you were falling in love, now those things are a problem.
You just get used to that person being in your life and you take them for granted. It’s like you become blinded to the valuable things about that person because you are so familiar with them. The Bible tells this story of Jesus trying to teach people in his hometown (Mark 6:1-6). Even though His teachings were powerful and He was changing people’s lives, they said, “Isn’t he the carpenter’s son”? Knowing Him so closely kept Him from being able to do things for them.
The same thing happens when you have been married for a while. You lose sight of all the awesome things about the person you love because your familiarity with them is blinding you. Familiarity is a thief that is coming to rob you of true love.
Use Selective Perception
Love is blind. When you first start falling in love, you are blind to the faults of your lover. It’s like you become so enthralled with what you like about each other, that you miss the faults. Have you ever tried to point out the faults of a couple in love? They absolutely CANNOT see them. Until you get used to each other, then that familiarity causes you to see those faults. That is when the problems begin. That’s when we all look at each other and nod, “the honeymoon is over.” Because we know, they are no longer blind.
So, you can transform your lover by ignoring the bad. My wife says that sometimes I have selective hearing. Meaning that I only choose to hear what I want to hear, and ignore the rest! Maybe that is true sometimes, I don’t know! So, having selective perception in your marriage means that you deliberately choose to ignore the negative parts of your spouse and instead focus on the positive parts. So in your mind, love becomes blind again.
You choose to change your perception of your spouse. I am choosing to look at you differently. I am choosing to think about all the things I like about you instead of the things I don’t. With a little practice, you can condition your mind to transform that familiarity into something positive in your relationship
Acknowledge What You Like About Your Spouse
Make a list in your mind of all the good qualities that you like about your spouse. These could be things you admire. It could also just be things you like about them. Sometimes, Christians have a tendency to spiritualize EVERYTHING. Yes, I love the way my wife has faith in the Lord, but I also like certain things about her personality and appearance. And it’s OK to enjoy those things!
This will allow you to focus on those things and keep the thief of familiarity from stealing your love away.
Take out some paper and write some of those things down and if you are feeling really daring, share them with your spouse. This will change your marriage and your relationship together.
Embrace Your Familiarity
There is also something valuable about your familiarity with each other. You can embrace your familiarity and use it to enhance your relationship. The instructions of Proverbs 5 reveal this principle.
Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?Proverbs 5:15-20
You have the advantage of knowing each other. Why would you embrace a stranger? They don’t even know you. You know your spouse and your spouse knows you. You know your likes and dislikes. You know how to bring joy to each other. A stranger knows none of these things. And the longer you are together the more intimate your knowledge of each other becomes.
There is this misconception that a stranger has something for you that your spouse doesn’t. But you can use your familiarity with each other to strengthen your relationship. You can deepen your love by enjoying the good things about each other that you are familiar with.
Also, your history together should mean something too. If a stranger seems to have something that your spouse doesn’t. Think about all the things that you have shared together in that familiarity. The love and the relationship that you have built with your spouse is more valuable than what a stranger could offer you.
The stranger is a lie. That person has lots of things that you don’t like, but you don’t realize those things because that person is a stranger to you. So embrace the lover that is familiar to you, the one that committed your heart on your wedding day.
2. The Thief of Desire
What exactly is desire and how do you get it? Desire slowly builds in a relationship until it becomes almost unbearable. When I first met my wife, I had an interest in her, then, as our relationship developed it turned into desire. That desire grew until on our wedding day. We were ready to just get out of there and be with each other! Of course, we waited and tried our best to do things the right way. I would recommend that to anyone by the way. By allowing that desire to grow naturally, we experienced something amazing together. But if you don’t wait, you spoil that experience and turn it into something mundane. A honeymoon should be more than a vacation. It should be an experience that you share with each other.
Desire is one of those things that is hard to measure or visualize. It is the one thing that has stolen more from relationships than anything else. It has an almost mystical pull from its object. Why is it so powerful? Why does it disappear? How do you get it back?
In Proverbs 7 the power of desire is illustrated through a foolish use of it. A young man meets a woman who seduces him into her house with teasing clothing, flirty talk, and blatant advances. His desire is pushed to a point where he loses control and goes after her in spite of her apparently being a married woman. But in the end, he finds out that it was all really a trap to destroy his soul. You can read the story in Proverbs 7:6-23.
So these are some things you can learn about desire from a strange woman.
Create Desire in Your Marriage
The strange woman made desire out of nothing. In just a few minutes she created a desire that was irresistible to the young man.
She offered experiences to all five of his senses.
- Sight– She was wearing “the attire of a harlot.”(vs 10) She was teasing him with what she was wearing. It was revealing enough to make him want to see more. So she is offering to fill his eyes with more. What she was wearing was an advertisement for him. It wasn’t just ignorant on her part. She did it to make him want her.
- Hearing- She complimented him. (vs 5) She made him feel special by talking about him. (vs 15) She gave him a bold invitation. (vs 18) Her words were seductive and bold. (vs 21) Her words created desire.
- Touch- She touched him, then she grabbed him and kissed him. (vs13) She made him want her by slowly getting into his personal space and touching him.
- Smell- She perfumed her bed with seductive scents. (vs 17) Because she knew those smells would add to the seduction.
- Taste- She kissed him (vs 13) and offered herself all night. (vs 18)
She created a desire that was intoxicating. This is why you have to be careful when dating. Because it just takes a little spark of that intoxication to make you lose control. And that losing control can happen fast.
The fact that she created desire out of nothing means that desire is something that can be created. So you can create or recreate desire in your marriage by using these same things. Not in an intentionally wicked way, but in a godly way to have desire in your marriage. Addressing the five senses of your spouse can create desire in your relationship.
Use Your Memories to Recreate Desire
The strange woman offered something new and exciting. Do you remember when your desire was new? We had an awesome honeymoon! No, we didn’t go on some extravagant sightseeing tour or visit some exotic locale. We rented a suite in a lodge in the mountains. We even got snowed in for a couple of days! But we were together and that is what matters. Over the years we have built more memories together. Those memories are an important part of our relationship that a stranger could never offer.
God designed your senses to trigger memories. When I smell cinnamon and brown sugar. I am transported in time to when I was a little kid and my mother was baking cinnamon rolls in the oven, and all the times I have spent with family.
I have this problem and quite frankly it’s embarrassing. In the movies when the hero gets shot or stabbed they just keep fighting until they win. They push through the pain and blood loss to keep fighting. But when I see my own blood, it triggers something in my mind and I blackout! When you pass out like that, medical professionals hold this smell up to your nose and helps bring you back into consciousness. When I smell that it brings all those memories of passing out back up.
Any of the five senses can trigger memories in your brain and transport you into that moment. This is one of the amazing things about marriage: you build all these memories together. And any of your senses could trigger those memories that you have created together.
So use those memories to recreate desire in your marriage.
Use the Bible to Control Your Desire
Desire can be intoxicating like you are losing control of yourself. God gives you certain desires to enjoy inside the marriage covenant, but those desires have to be within the design that God intended. So losing yourself with your spouse is something beautiful when done God’s way.
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.Hebrews 13:4
God draws a circle with the marriage covenant and allows you to have those desires freely with your spouse. It’s a part of falling in love and staying in love.
If your desires are running out of control, these are some principles for controlling them in your life:
- Use Bible verses to bring your desire under control. Read and memorize verses that are helpful to you and quote them when you feel yourself losing control of your desires. I believe that the words of the Bible have the power to bring your mind and your desires under control. You don’t have to be a victim of your desires, you can be an overcomer!
- Use the power of the Holy Spirit to keep your desires in check. One of the fruits of the Spirit working in your life is temperance or self-control. So by yielding yourself to the Holy Spirit, you are able to control your desires in a godly way. You can read more details about this in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Use your relationship with your spouse to guide your desire. God created marriage as a means of enjoying those desires in a godly and even a holy way. So cultivate your desires within the marriage covenant because anything outside of it is wrong. Let your spouse be the object of your desire.
Understand that Love Is More Than Desire
The culture we are in today exalts desire as the ultimate point of life. People think that if your desires aren’t being fulfilled, then you just can’t be happy. Desire and fulfilling that desire is like a god that people worship today. I think that is why people are looking for it in different places like same-sex relationships and opposite gender identities. I don’t think people are realizing that they are reinforcing gender roles by trying to be the opposite gender. It’s like they are proving traditional gender roles are legitimate by trying to force themselves to fit in them. Or if male and female don’t matter in marriage, why would you want to be husband and husband or wife and wife? So by trying to make something it is not, you are actually reinforcing the husband and wife roles. But I am speaking from a Christian or Bible perspective though.
But just wanting something doesn’t make it right or fulfilling. Because love is more than desire. True love is selfless instead of selfish. Real love is about becoming desirable and fulfilling to the person that you love. So the desire for a Christian in love is more about the desires of the person you love than yourself.
True Christian love is not reciprocal. It’s not you giving me my desires and I will give you yours. It has no expectation of equality. Real love prompts you to give without expecting anything in return. It’s just like the love that’s found in the Gospel story. That Jesus, out of love for you, gave His life for you knowing you had nothing of equal value to give back to Him. I want to give my life back to Him, but whether I do or don’t He still loves me.
This is what real love is. Giving without getting. Loving without getting love back. Desire is to love and to want the best for the person you love.
You make a mistake by building your relationship on selfish desires. Because your relationship will end with those desires. Those desires will push you away from your spouse and toward another object of desire.
3. The Thief of Neglect
One of my favorite love stories is found in the Song of Solomon. I like the language they used about each other and the way they talked about their relationship. If you like romance, you really need to read that book of the Bible slowly and imagine what is going on! I think Christians should try to have a love like they had for each other! There was something they discovered about their relationship over time, this is how they worded it:
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.Song of Solomon 2:15
In a vineyard, you have to pick up the vines that are growing low, because the little foxes could get to them. They realized that there were vulnerabilities in their relationship that if they did not constantly address it could hurt them. So you have to identify those weaknesses in your relationship and work together to keep them from becoming a problem.
Give Your Love the Maintenance it Needs
Love is like a Pontiac Firebird. In the early 1980s, my older sister saved up and bought a gold Pontiac Firebird with t-tops. It was an awesome sports car with a large decal of a bird on the hood, and the t-tops were just over the top cool. I think that was the coolest car I have ever ridden in. But that was the early 1980’s and this is 2020. Those cars are just heaps of metal and rust now. Unless you maintained one for all these years. Unless you kept the oil changed and did all the maintenance and fixed all the little things before they became big things. Now you have a classic car that is worth A LOT of money.
Marriage is the same way, your relationship can end up in a pile of rusted metal, or you end up a “classic” relationship that is worth more than anyone can afford. You just have to do the little things to keep it up. That’s what makes your love last, doing the little things to maintain it periodically. But you have to be diligent and intentional in maintaining it. I think there are a lot of good Christian people who should have a “classic” marriage and instead are riding around in a rust bucket. And it doesn’t take long for your marriage to get that way.
Support Your Love for Each Other
Learn how to support your love by using the resources that God has given you.
- Go to Church together.
- Read your Bibles together.
- Pray for each.
- Read Christian books about love and marriage.
- Listen to a Christian podcast about making your love stronger.
- Get advice from more experienced couples.
Look at maintaining your love as a team effort. But even if you can’t work together, you can do your part to make your marriage special. And your part may be the one that changes your relationship!
Take Precautions to Keep Thieves from Stealing Your Love
Sometimes the best way to keep thieves away is to make it overtly obvious that you are determined to stop them. At your house, you can put up those security system signs, put some outside lights in, maybe even install some cameras. Do the same thing to your marriage. Be overtly obvious that you love each other and are not going to let Satan or neglect ruin your love. Put a sign in front of your relationship that you intend on a fight for what you have. Put extra locks on the door to make sure thieves can’t get in. Maybe even put some “no trespassing” signs up!
The 3 Thieves of True Love
- It’s Gone
- 1. The Thief of Familiarity
- 2. The Thief of Desire
- 3. The Thief of Neglect
Music by Wes Hutchinson