Awe, the enchanted memories of yesteryear... That bejeweled white dress, a crisp tuxedo, beautiful flowers adorning the isles, and dear old Dad kissing his daughter just before handing her off to her Knight in shining armor. You know that time; when the rosy-colored glasses are almost too thick to gaze through. Yes, I’m talking about that milestone in a couple’s life, your wedding day. Well years begin to pass, and that once hard body you had when you first met, has now transformed from six-pack abs of steel to something resembling more of a rusted out pony-keg. Then throw in a couple of kids, that new house that will be yours in just 355 more payments, and an unrelenting boss; and you’ve got stress. How’s the view through those rose-colored glasses now?
On the day we said “ I Do,” we did so because we were motivated by one thing; LOVE. Love is such a powerful emotion that it motivates many aspects of our lives. Heck, why did any of us get married in the first place? Because we felt like we were “in love.” Strange... we feel like we are “in love,” yet more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Could this be the problem in today’s society? Having gone though a divorce myself before coming to Christ let me tell you, I like everyone today had missed a very clear message in scripture. Love in the sense of a secular world is completely different from the type of “true biblical love” God has called us to have for one another. If you take nothing else from this blog get this point straight; the Bible does not teach that “true love” is an emotion that can simply come and go. TRUE LOVE IS A DECISION!
Let’s turn our focus on one of the most widely recited scriptures used during many weddings today; I Corinthians 13:4-7. In this scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us that, “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.” If one takes the time, we realize that Paul is not stating what one should “feel” for one another, but a “decision” we should make. This decision is to commit ourselves to one another so selflessly, that we share the common goal of practicing biblical love in or homes.
As I sat down to write this I knew I had to make it clear, I’m not trying to come off as “holier-than-thou.” I too struggle with the same issues that everyone is faced with today. Life does get in the way at times and unfortunately it does bring out the worst in us. I slip up just as much as every one else. However, the point to be made here is that even during those times of strife, we can always rebound, repent to God, and ask for grace from our partner. My intention for writing this blog was not only about asking you, but asking myself as well, “As outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, how is your love measuring up to the love Christ has called us to have for our spouse?”
As the New Year is quickly approaches and people begin making those New Year’s resolutions that, let’s face it, end within the first 30-days; I’d ask you to join me in thinking about what Paul’s epistles has called us each to ask of ourselves.
1. "Love is patient." Are you willing to bear with your spouse's worst behaviors and attitudes regardless of the reasoning behind them, and without seeking revenge?
2. "Love is kind.” Are you making the effort to seek ways to be useful in your spouse's life through loving kindness?
3. "Love is not jealous." Are you more concerned with your own personal advancement, or do you find joy in the esteem and honor we are called to give to our spouse?
4. “Love does not brag." Are you striving to standout and draw attention to yourself, setting aside your spouse in an effort to remain “one-up” over them?
5. "Love is not arrogant." Have you become so self-absorbed that your main focus is striving to be the more important one in the relationship?
6. “Love does not act unbecomingly." As our spouse’s look to us for Godly counsel, are you insuring you don’t lead them astray into ungodly activities?
7. "Love does not seek its own." Therefore, is your top priority after God to be marriage and spouse oriented?
8. "Love is not provoked." Are you making the effort not to resort to anger when difficulties between yourself and your spouse arise?
9. "Love does not take into account a wrong suffered." Are you keeping a record of wrongs against your spouse instead of focusing on the positive aspects they hold within themselves?
10. “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness." Are you condoning your spouse's unrighteous behavior? Are you fueling the fire by joining in its expression?
11. "Love rejoices with the truth." Are you showing your spouse praise when you notice truth prevailing in your spouse's life?
12. "Love bears all things." Even when you feel that you can’t stand it anymore, do you remain publicly silent about your spouse's faults?
13. "Love believes all things." Do you express unshakable confidence and trust in your spouse?
14. "Love hopes all things." Do you remain hopeful by confidently expecting future victory in your spouse's life, regardless of their current imperfections and struggles?
15. "Love endures all things." Are you willing to standup and defend your spouse against every assault that Satan tries to use to break up your marriage?
So how are you measuring up? If you’re like me and be honest with yourself, you’ll admit that what Paul calls each one of us to do is not always as easy as it sounds. Our poor choices and behaviors lead us away from the path of making the “decision” to love one another, to the one that is based strictly on “emotion.” Can this hurdle be overtaken? The truth is, YES; we are all capable of having that “true love” feeling. We just need to change our mindset from thinking like secular man, and make the effort to close that gap that separates ourselves from the “true biblical love” that Christ has called us to have for one another.
I heard it once said, great marriages don’t just happen by chance. They happen when two people make the “decision” to love one another unconditionally. No matter if you’ve been married for 1-day or 50-years; every marriage needs continual refreshment through frequent confirmations of these biblical truths. With Paul’s words applied, good marriages will become great. And that weak marriage can begin to gain its strength back. In the end, when we finally take off those rose-colored glasses and get real about our love for our spouse, we’ll find that it really is important to distinguish between following our emotions or following God's will for our lives. For in the area of marriage, God’s will is easily defined. Paul shows us that True love is a “decision” not just an “ever-changing emotion.” And “True biblical love” is about loving someone all of the time; not just when you feel “in love.”
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...