By David Faust
Non-list makers shake their heads at such habits. To them a task list seems restrictive and legalistic, but those of us in the pro-list crowd find that writing down what we want to accomplish helps us stay organized. We experience a sense of satisfaction when we scratch off those to-do items one at a time—even on our days off.
Some lists are unhealthy though. A frustrated worker clings bitterly to a list of grievances against his former employer. A lovely woman keeps a mental list of all her shortcomings, and if someone gives her a compliment, she inwardly recites her flaws and reminds herself why she doesn’t deserve to be loved. Negative, unhappy church members can readily enumerate all of their congregation’s flaws.
In the Song of Songs two lovers list their reasons for mutual admiration. The husband itemizes one characteristic after another that he appreciates about his wife. With details that could make a prudish reader blush, the man romantically compliments his bride’s hair, eyes, and lips. He admires her shapely figure. He even finds flattering ways to describe her teeth and neck.
The wife returns the favor. She exclaims, “Let him lead me to the banquet hall and let his banner over me be love” (Song of Songs 2:4)—poetically imagining a grand, stately wedding feast. She compares her husband’s arms to “rods of gold” and his legs to “pillars of marble” (5:14, 15). Secure and transparent with one another, the two lovers build each other up through intimate conversation.
Every married couple should maintain a beauty list like that—a mental catalog of each mate’s admirable qualities. What man wouldn’t welcome his wife’s respectful compliments? What wife doesn’t appreciate hearing her husband sincerely enumerate all the reasons he loves her? In healthy marriages the partners don’t focus on each other’s weaknesses. Instead, they remember the qualities that attracted them to each other in the first place, and as time passes they discover additional reasons to honor and enjoy one another.
The Beauty of Christ’s Bride
To understand sex the way God designed it to be, the Song of Songs has far more to teach us than Hollywood does. In a culture that misunderstands and ignores sexual boundaries, it’s refreshing to consider the song’s untainted portrayal of the pleasures of married love. At a deeper level, many Bible students also recognize in this book a symbolic depiction of God’s love for Israel and Christ’s love for the church.
When you think of it that way, wouldn’t it be good to keep in mind all the reasons you admire the church, the bride of Christ? Your church’s beauty list might mention faithful teaching and practical assistance for children and the aging. The list could include supportive friends for the lonely, outlets for meaningful service, and opportunities to dine at the table of salvation under the banner of God’s love. We worship together, looking forward to the “wedding of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:6-9).
Do you appreciate the Lord’s church? Can you list some lavish words of praise for the beautiful bride of Christ?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
|Jan. 4||M.||Proverbs 31:10, 11, 20, 25, 26||A Perfect Woman|
|Jan. 5||T.||John 10:1-6||The Perfect Shepherd|
|Jan. 6||W.||John 10:7-15||The Good Shepherd|
|Jan. 7||T.||John 10:22-30||The Eternal Shepherd|
|Jan. 8||F.||Song of Solomon 4:9-15||The Most Perfect Love|
|Jan. 9||S.||Song of Solomon 5:9-16||The Most Handsome Groom|
|Jan. 10||S.||Song of Solomon 6:4-12||The Most Beautiful Bride|
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © 2011, unless otherwise indicated.