I have had the most exhausting day at work today. Please peel five potatoes for me now so that I may cook tonight,” my wife exhaled as she entered through the door and headed straight for the bedroom. I mumbled to myself as I closed the curtains, barely noticing the breathtaking orange hues of dusk setting over the Nairobi skyline.
Doesn’t she know that I am right in the middle of something on my laptop and that she is interrupting me? Besides, I am also exhausted from my tiring day at work!Can’t she just serve me instead? I don’t feel like serving her tonight.
At that moment I knew I had arrived at a fork in the road. I could sulk and fuss about how, as a newlywed husband with a full-time career, I had not signed up for an extra evening job in the kitchen. Is this what marriage was meant to be? Alternatively, I could swallow my “manly pride” and go into the kitchen and joyfully tackle the five potatoes. After all, it would take only a few minutes away from my laptop.
It was then that I heard that still small voice, tugging at my heartstrings, bringing to remembrance some passages I had read during my devotions earlier that week.
“For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. . . . So again I say, each man must love [Greek: agape, referring to uncondi- tional love] his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Eph. 5:28-33, NLT).*
“Love is patient and kind. . . . It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, NLT).
Suddenly I felt a sense of guilt as I sought forgiveness from the Lord for harboring those selfish thoughts. The Holy Spirit’s voice was crystal clear as to what He thought I ought to do.
You must love [agape] her.
This wasn’t a suggestion. No option open to negotiations; no compromise; no conditions. This unconditional love was a command from God Himself, as He required me to reflect His very nature. And the Christlike love He expected me to show her was irrespective of my feelings at the time. After all, don’t I wake up to go to work every Monday, whether I feel like it or not? Likewise, Christ did not demonstrate His love to me only when He felt like it. In fact, He did it when we were least deserving of His love, “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8).
Later that night I sat down to eat deliciously sautéed potatoes that my wife served me with a twinkle in her eyes. “Thank you for peeling the potatoes,” she respectfully said as I enjoyed the tasty food before me. My love toward her was reciprocated by her respect toward me. This feeling of being respected caused me to love her even more, just as Paul suggested in his exhortation (Eph. 5:28-33). At that moment I wanted to jump up to peel more potatoes—and do anything else my wife needed help with.
Jesus told us that our identifying mark to the world as His followers would be that we must love one another, in the same way that He loved us (see John 13:34, 35; 15:12). This love goes beyond human ability, whether or not we get something in return. Whose potatoes is God calling you to peel today?