The Goal Is Agape
by Drenda Keesee
Agape commitment is unconditional. It says, “We made a vow to stay in this marriage. We’re committed to communicating, so we’re going to stay here until we come to a resolution. We made a commitment to train our children in the way they should go, not to let them destroy their life and future by becoming a demanding self-centered person.” That is commitment. That is the reason to work through communication with your spouse. That is the reason to teach your children self-control and manners through discipline.
Love is not an emotion; it’s an action. It’s a commitment to sacrifice selfishness for what’s best for the other person, whether they realize it or not. The Bible paints a portrait of this love and its characteristics. This must become our communication style: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
So how should you communicate?…
• You shouldn’t keep a record of your spouse’s wrongdoings and bring them up in arguments.
• You should be patient with your spouse.
• You should not boast about yourself or be self-righteous and prideful.
• You should not dishonor your spouse.
• You should not get easily angered.
• You should rejoice with the truth.
• You should protect your spouse.
• You should trust your spouse.
• You should hope for the best in your spouse.
• You should persevere through obstacles.
Communication is a life-and-death situation to relationships. So in love, we can’t surrender and just give in all of the time (more like give up on communication), we can’t withdraw and cut off communication, and we can’t bulldoze people out of our life.
Most conflict, according to the Word of God, is born out of selfishness. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1–3).
When we are born again in Christ, we have a new nature. Before we know God, it is fight to win, because that’s the only escape out of the earth-cursed system. We strive to win, take care of ourselves, and provide for ourselves by putting self before others. Once we’re born again, that changes. Empathy begins to take place. God begins to give you compassion, and you care for other people. God softens your heart.
Before Gary’s father was saved, he showed little affection. He grew up in the “John Wayne era” when real men weren’t supposed to show emotion, so he didn’t tell his sons that he loved them. When he got saved at the age of eighty, he had a complete heart change. You couldn’t talk to him without him expressing his love for you!
When the apostle Paul wrote about lawsuits in the church, note this key phrase: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). Paul states that to take a disagreement to the point of argument means that you have already been defeated. The issue is not whatever the quarrel is about; the issue is that you’ve stepped out of God’s jurisdiction and are open to all disorder, all confusion, and every evil work. That is why Satan wants to get you in strife! Satan wants to rob you blind. He wants to steal from you and dishonor you, and he doesn’t want you to enjoy God’s Kingdom.
Early in our marriage, when Gary and I were broke and living in chaos, we had to learn that there’s no place for strife in our home. When we would start to get into an argument, we would stop, look at each other, and say, “I’d rather prosper.” Recognize strife and stop it before it robs you.
You might say, “Well, I can’t help it. It’s impossible to keep strife out.” But the good news is that you can! You don’t have to enter into strife. Strife is not an automatic default setting for you. It’s a reaction! It’s how you’ve trained yourself to protect your emotions and handle conflict. If you’re about to start a conflict, it’s better to take a moment to calm down and then come back and talk about it. There is nothing good that comes out of strife. Besides the emotional turmoil of strife, there is also the spiritual door that opens to the enemy. The devil actually sets up doorways for strife, such as obstacles or difficult people crossing your path when you’re tired, so he can have access to your life and hinder God’s plan for you. You need to understand that strife is your enemy.
Satan is after the power of agreement, especially among spouses. He knows that if you stand in agreement with the Word of God, then His Word is going to produce every single time. That’s why Satan has snares, tactics, pressures, and persecutions to move you off the Word of God. Strife opens the door, pulls us outside of the legal jurisdiction of the Kingdom of God, shortcircuits the system, and cuts off God’s ability to bring His Word to pass for us. It’s as though we’re floating in an ocean with no sail or forward momentum.
Excerpt from “The New Vintage Family” by Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.