Our reward will be great, Jesus said, not when we love people who love us back, but when we love “the ungrateful and the evil” as God does.
If you are married to the godliest, kindest, most giving and thoughtful spouse who ever lived, that will be your reward. There will be no extra credit in the heavenlies for having enjoyed an easier marriage than most. So you’ll have some very pleasant decades, while someone else may be storing up for eternity.
If, for instance, your spouse takes you for granted, you may never be appreciated on this earth, but the day will come—Jesus promises it!—when you see your heavenly Father-in-Law face-to-face and He says to you, “You loved My son (or daughter) so well, even though I know he never understood how blessed he was to be married to you. Now, let Me show you how I spend all of eternity rewarding those who love in My name. Receive your rewards, enter into your rest!”
You see how believing in that day changes how we define what is a good day in the here and now? We’ll look for opportunities to love, serve, notice, encourage, and appreciate, instead of being obsessed with how well our spouses are loving, serving, noticing, encouraging, and appreciating us. This is encouraging for those of you who are taken for granted. Let’s be honest: some of you married fools. I don’t mean to be flippant, but the Bible says there are fools, right? It seems to me, somebody must marry them. Maybe you picked one. From an earthly perspective, that’s a wasted life. From an eternal perspective, you have the opportunity to set yourself up for a particularly thrilling and fulfilling conversation at the judgment seat of Christ.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Luke 6:32-35 KJVA)
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 KJVA)
* How do these passages encourage you to love you spouse even when it’s hard? How will this lesson impact the way you live out your daily life with him or her?