A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Five of a multi-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues. Men—you’d be wise to read these too—to learn more about a biblical understanding of women and about biblical women’s ministry. Today’s post is from Shannon Kay McCoy entitled Motivated by Love. You can also read Part 1 by Amy Baker: I’ll Probably Be a Widow, Part 2 by Betty-Anne Van Rees: Single in the Church, Part 3 by Ellen Castillo: Biblical Mentoring for Women, and Part 4 by Eliza Jane Huie: 3 Principles to Consider During Marital Conflict.
At a young age, Monica was sexually abused by her step-father until he divorced her mother. In her teenage years she was raped by her brother’s friends. She lived a life of promiscuity—getting pregnant twice with both ending in abortions. She was drinking alcohol heavily and using drugs until the age of twenty-four when she developed cervical cancer. God used her illness to get her attention.
She became a Christian and met her husband, Jeff, at church. Only one year into the marriage, Monica began suffering from bouts of depression and self-loathing. She was distancing herself from her husband but didn’t know why. She thought as a Christian, she shouldn’t struggle with these issues. She finally confided in a Christian friend who encouraged her to seek biblical counseling.
The Journey Begins
The counseling process helped Monica to discover some stumbling blocks to her faith. She had doubts about God—about His goodness, His grace, His love, and doubted ever being free from condemning thoughts. With the love and support of her husband, she began the difficult process of looking at her past through the lens of Scripture.
She was afraid to reveal certain details to Jeff because she didn’t want him to stop loving her. He assured her of his love and commitment, so she forged ahead allowing God to peel away layer after layer into her past. During the most difficult layers of dealing with the sexual abuse, she had to distance herself from him intimately. After eighteen months of biblical processing, Monica was able to restore her relationship to her husband.
Doubting God’s Love
Through the counseling process, her faith had grown stronger. She believed in God’s goodness and grace. But she wasn’t so sure about His love. She told the counselor that she still couldn’t understand how a holy God could love someone with her past. The counselor asked her, “How do you know that Jeff loves you, even after knowing of your past?” She thought about how Jeff had been very supportive throughout the counseling process. He had been incredibly gracious to her when she was at her worst with depression and self-loathing. During the time she separated herself from him intimately, he was amazingly patient and forgiving. He wasn’t shocked nor disgusted when he learned of the sexual abuse. Instead, he was a safe and secure haven.
His love encouraged her to share her heart with him. Knowing her ugly past, she was only met with Jeff’s unconditional love. In return, she loved him in a much deeper way. She would sacrifice her time and energy to please him. Spending time with him was no longer a burden. She treasured every moment with him because she felt valued by his love.
She answered the counselor. “I know Jeff loves me because he has demonstrated his love in marvelous ways.” The counselor asked Monica to read Romans 5:8, which states, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The counselor stated that God proved His love for her by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for her sins. And since she is a believer, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
The counselor also reminded Monica that God’s love was lavished on her through Jeff’s love. Seeing how Jeff loved her with the love of God, she began to get the picture. She finally grasped a greater understanding of God’s love. She learned that God’s love for her is incredibly gracious and sacrificial, amazingly patient and forgiving, safe and secure, and completely accepting of her in spite of her past. She realized that Christ has given her a new identity—His identity. She was no longer a victim living in her past. God saw everything she did and yet still loved her. This realization gripped Monica deep into the core of her soul. She kept repeating to herself, “God really does love me!”
Motivated by Love
In His love, God granted Monica the grace to love Him. As she daily contemplated His love, she became more sensitive to affronting the One she loved which led quickly to repentance of sin. She found it easier to pray. She didn’t fear seeking His presence. She wanted to spend time with God. She desired to please Him with her time and energy. She had a growing willingness to sacrifice her life for God’s glory—no longer doing things her way.
Monica learned as the Apostle Paul did, that “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death motivated Paul’s service for Him. In Galatians 2:20, Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul learned that he died to the Law because he was crucified with Christ. Therefore he was able to live for God because Christ lived in him.
True love has a constraining virtue. Monica realized this in Jeff’s love for her. It cost him something to love her. He accepted the consequences of her past and chose to love her. She would do anything for him because he loved her at her worst. Even greater is the love of Christ. It cost Him something to love us. He gave up His life when we were at our worst—and still loves us at our worst. By faith Monica embraced God’s love for her. In return, she loved God because He first loved her (1 John 4:19).
Join the Conversation
Think of a time when you felt really loved by someone. What effect did it have on you? How did you respond to that love? Now think of Christ’s love for you. What effect does His love have on you? How do you respond to His love?