Have you ever badgered your spouse repeatedly with the question, “Do you love me?” Well I am so guilty of what we commonly referred to as “nagging.” Most men consider a previous affirmation of love to be enough to last a lifetime and subsequent questioning to be annoying. Not so with the ladies. They will ask several times a day. But I wonder if the ladies—myself included—really know the reason why they persist with this question.
In John 21:15-17, Jesus was the one nagging his disciple Peter with the noisome question three times in quick succession. Many husbands would have been shouting by the time the question was asked for the third time; “I told you once, I told you twice. How many more times must I say it? What do you want from me?”
Peter did feel a bit hurt and offended when Jesus persisted with the question but the profundity of the serial questions must not be missed neither in Jesus’s conversation with Peter nor in what might seem to be a pesky and aggravating spouse.
The first two questions Jesus asked were of the agapaó type of love which speaks of a choice to make God first. In essence. Jesus was asking Peter, “Am I the first choice and preference in your life?” The fact that Jesus emphasized agapaó love by asking this question twice tells us that this kind of love is a priority.
In the same way, when spouses ask the question, they want to know if they have priority in our lives. Do they have first place and first choice over every competing demand and interest? The “agapaó” love is a spiritual one that cries out in any relationship, “Do you love me with all your heart and soul?” Even in the most carnal of relationship there is a home drum beating and searching for the complete and enduring kind of love.
The third and final version of Jesus’ question addresses the “phileó” kind of love which speaks to warm intimate affection, tenderness and consideration. Here we are talking about the brotherly/neighborly kind of love that is evidenced demonstratively and lived out daily. It is predicated on the “agapao” love in a way that might say, “if you love me as the first choice and preference in your live, then show me in your daily actions through affection, a duty of care, commitment and sacrifice.
Even as Christ has demonstrated the phileó kind of love for us, sacrificing his life for us, we are expected to do the same with our spouses in the Christian marriage. We may expect warm affection and a duty of care from and towards our spouses. We may expect to share together in the joys and challenges of life. We may expect to live civilly with mutual respect and social positioning. We may expect a shared vision and common purpose.
To understand the underlying need being expressed in the repeated question creates a cause for careful reflection rather than annoyance. t seeks reassurance of togetherness and sharing in all the privileges and purpose of the marriage covenant in spite of the vagaries of life.
Is the Christ-like agapao and phileó love the source of your love for your spouse? Your commitment to God and the priority you give to Him in your daily life will be an indication of how well you are able to respond to your spouse’s question, “Do you love me?, Do you love me? Do you love me?”
(Reposted by Laura Meyer from www.virtuematters.com July 3, 2012)