Part 2 of “Want to have a better marriage?”
Defining love is a tricky task. One popular notion of love suggests to a person, “If you love something, let it go; if it returns back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.” I have no idea who first declared that hackneyed phrase but it contains only a grain of truth. That grain probably works well when applied to stray cats or box turtles found by children. There might even be a grain of that truth in the puppy love of tweeners and young teens twittering about who loves who this week, but the whole idea of “love lets go” falls apart when applied to the serious love demanded between a husband and wife in marriage.
Our modern idea of love is mostly based on feelings and the problem with feelings is that they change like the weather. Hollywood and publishing media have glorified romantic love to such a degree that many people know of no other kind of love. When warm feelings inevitably fade the heart speaks to the mind saying that love is gone and the person must be let go. You can find another and start over.
A related problem is that we are intensely selfish. People are deeply invested in self. They grow up making most of their decisions on the basis of self advancement or gratification. Humility, service, honor, loyalty, and stoicism are neglected virtues rarely taught and less often modeled. All of this focus on self is incompatible with biblical love.
When the Bible speaks of love it emphasizes selflessness and humility. A biblical definition of love could be,
selfless care of another which seeks the best spiritual, physical, and emotional outcome for the other regardless of how one is treated in return.
Several passages will be briefly considered in this series and the first one is 1 Corinthians 13. While often read at weddings, this passage is infrequently applied adequately in life. Consider verses 4-7,
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NASB)
If you read these verses and carefully consider how each of these descriptions of love might apply to your marriage, and then actually do these things, you will find a miraculous change. However, one thing is necessary. You must apply these things regardless of how the other responds. Biblical love does its work in spite of, or even because of, persecution, un- thakfulness, accusation and many other selfish responses.
Loving your spouse or any other person with biblical love is not easy. It is actually very difficult. It is hard because it requires radical change in ourselves from self-centered to God and others centered. By God’s grace and in His power you can be the person God desires you to be.