February 13, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

There is a retail jewelry chain spending zillions on a television campaign right now. The Super Bowl draws a crowd for the game, but if the gridiron action is boring... the innovative advertising can still produce next-day water cooler banter. The current Zales assault isn't clever, but it touches on the desperation afoot in the days leading up to tomorrow...

If you're a man, in a romantic relationship - or, a marriage! - this is the make-or-break moment. Love may be a two-way street, but the expectations of Valentine's Day are heavily weighted on the side of the wooer... expected to reach out and touch that special someone who is entitled to wooing, 'til death do they part. Boy, oh boy; I sure hope you're ready...

The gift is one thing (Zale's has those diamond goodies, starting at just $99); the mealtime setting is important (if you don't have reservations made by now, give it up: you're toast); but even a performance bordering on perfect on those points doesn't put you in the "win" column, yet. The extra-point - for the win - is based on what comes out of your mouth, as you're putting that $85/person fixed-menu meal into your mouth. What are those loving words that she's longing to hear, anyway?

The pre-game huddle, over on the sideline - with the Head Coach - allows Him to give you some great insight about your approach: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God..." (Romans 15:5-7).

Did you catch the catalyst for that relationship counsel? "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you..." Acceptance is not a passive enterprise: it is an intentional, proactive energy that you put into the relationship... IF you know how it's done. How, exactly, do you go about expressing acceptance?

Here are three categories of acceptance you can think about as you work on the lyrics for your dinnertime love talk tomorrow morning. How do you verbalize acceptance? Three themes:

>> Begin by accepting her uniqueness. You already know this much: you found a one-of-a-kind person when you snagged your spouse. Who's behind that distinctive individual, anyway? God claims the credit for your life partner's amazing make-up: "For we are God's workmanship..." (Ephesians 2:10). The word for "workmanship" is - in Greek - poema: a work of art; one-off; never another just like her. No effort made to change your mate will ever be blessed by God, IF it runs counter to the way He made 'em. Applaud her distinction; it's God's handiwork!

>> Continue by accepting her differences. Uniqueness traces back to God; differences trace back to the person. Opinions, tastes, preferences, ideas, dreams, strategies, practices: all of these come from the personality of the person who - like the Creator who made them - has ideas that are unlike any other. Those differences can be the basis for conflict, or for confidence. Which will it be? "Therefore, stop passing judgment on one another... make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification..." (Romans 14:13, 19). Do you enjoy the differences that exist between you and your partner? Do you tell her that you do?

>> Never fail to accept her apologies. On rare occasions, she will blow it... and step over the line of relationship violation (you may be more likely to do that than she!). What happens when that happens, and she says she's sorry? "If your (wife) sins, rebuke (her), and if (she) repents, forgive (her). If (she) sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive (her)...(Luke 17:3-4). Jesus said that we were supposed to dispense forgiveness with unlimited measure... just the way that He does! Do you? Don't wait to make up your lines when you sit down tomorrow. Think about the lines of love that will join with your gifts and your celebration to put the message out in clear, concise terms! Love her to life!

Bob Shank

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