What do you think of when you hear the word love? Do you immediately think of the love you have for your spouse, child, parent or pet? Or do you think of your favorite food, vacation spot or hobby? Is your love for God the same as your love for anyone or anything else?
The world defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection or a great interest and pleasure in something. When we feel strongly for someone or something it is easy to spout off statements like “I love you just the way you are” or “the love of my life is the sport of soccer.” But, truthfully, do we feel this intense love when our spouse is acting unloving towards us? Will we always love the sport of soccer, even if the star athlete falls from grace and the team is ousted by culture somehow? Will we love God like this even if the hardest imaginable suffering comes upon us in our lives?
Love, as defined by the world, is a slippery slope, wouldn’t you agree? Our love for others (or things) is conditional and always changing and often is replaced by someone or something we feel more love towards. Think about it- what (or whom) did you claim to love 5 years ago that you no longer have deep affection for or great interest in?
The Bible defines love much differently than the world does. Love is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times, no matter which translation you are reading. God has much to say on the subject of love through His word, including how to love and what to love and what not to love.
I don’t know about you, but I know that I want to be more loving towards others and I don’t want to be misled into loving the wrong things! The less strife and more love I experience in my life, the more peace I have in my life. If there is roadmap for how to give and receive love, sign me up! I can confidently say that the Bible is the only instruction manual you will ever need on love, as it never changes and is always applicable in our relationships.
Scripture outwardly and definitively defines love as God.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them1 John 4:16 NLT
But, what does it mean to abide in God? To abide means to observe, follow or adhere to without yielding, as opposed to dwelling for a current period of time. This speaks directly to the constant and unchanging nature of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is unconditional (known as agape love). Even in our ugliest of moments, there is One who doesn’t turn His back on us…ever.
God commands that we love one another.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12 NLT
This is a powerful commandment that is not a suggestion, but an instruction! I am to love others with the same love that Jesus has shown me. Ouch! This can be quite convicting! If I am feeling or showing contempt for someone else because of something said or done, I have to ask myself if I would want that same contempt held for me by God based on some word or action of mine?
God describes love in action.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT
I can evaluate my circumstances and my behavior through this lens and it will reveal how loving I am being. I might be great at being patient with my spouse, but horrible with keeping score of his wrongdoings. It is in these horrible places that I can learn to cultivate my true love for others, in the way God instructs me to. I need to be patient and forgiving of past wrong-doings, as patience alone may not be enough for me to release any built up bitterness. This scripture also provides a way to sustain a loving relationship. We must never give up and we must endure even the toughest of circumstances with love. This is how we know that God’s love is never-ending. This is also the way that God shows His love for us.
God shows us how love is sacrificial.
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.Ephesians 4: 2-3 NLT
We know that it is sacrificial to be married. You are giving up half of yourself for another person in a committed relationship. You know that you will not always get your way. But, is it sacrificial to be humble when being criticized by your spouse? Yes, because typically, we naturally feel the need to defend ourselves to others and we often voice this feeling.
If my spouse tells me that I haven’t been very respectful towards him lately, and I respond by listing all of the instances I recall where I have been respectful, then I am not being humble (or respectful)! I am telling him that his perspective is not valid. Thus, a sacrificial response would require humility, or the ability to see myself as not so important or not so right. Instead, I can keep silent, listen, and then constructively apply the criticism to my life. I will experience personal & spiritual growth and maturity. My relationship with my spouse will grow deeper, as will my relationships with others. The sacrifice is giving up my natural tendency to be right for the love of another. You show love when you listen and choose peace over being right. You respond with humility when you are being loving.
Tim and I love marriage and we love helping other married couples on their marriage journey, which is why we created Marriage Sanctified. We believe that we can help others through our own triangular marital experiences with Jesus. But, most of all, we love Jesus and we want others to love Jesus like we do. We personally have experienced what Jesus has done in our own lives as individuals, as a married couple and as a family with our sons. We want others to experience what Jesus can do in their lives too.
We chose this as our first blog post because in order to love your spouse, you must first love God. You must love his Son Jesus and accept Him as the Lord of your life and as your personal savior. You must then make Him the Lord over your marriage. This is the best insurance you can get to cover the multitude of sins that will become part of your marriage, at one point or another. The blood of Jesus covers a multitude of sins!
If you have not accepted Jesus as your personal savior, we would love to share with you what this means. Please be sure to subscribe with your e-email address so we can share this news with you and pray with you!
When you understand the magnitude and depths of love that God has for you, you will also understand how to love your spouse and others like Him.
Love indeed has a name- His name is Jesus!