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Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch by Paul J. Bucknell

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Developing Love in Your Marriage


Study Questions

Paul J. Bucknell

Discovery of Love | Importance of Love | Steps to Developing Love| Questions

A) The Limitations of Human Love
B) The Need of True Love
C) The Opportunities of God's Love
Summary: We are God's window of love.

A) The Limitations of Human Love

There are two kinds of love: human love and divine love. They both come from God but differ on an essential point which will be discussed later. Most people think they understand love. They don't. They know only of the limited kind of love – human love. Indeed it is a greatly limited version never designed to fully satisfy. This is like those sample computer programs that allow you to operate only certain functions.

They do not work perfectly; they never were meant to. In fact, the sample program was not designed to use but to encourage a person to upgrade to the full application with all of its features. This is the way it is with God's love commonly found in the world. This is what we call human love.

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.

Love never fails ....

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

We would be greatly mistaken to think that this limited version of love is all there is to life. However, many people are building their marriages and making long term commitments with only this limited kind of love. This is a shame, especially considering how true love makes beautiful relationships.

We want to better understand the purposes of this limited kind of love which God has given to mankind too. If it was not for this kind of love, our world would not be at all a nice place to live. This kind of love is not bad but limited. Human love was designed to cause us to seek for genuine love in all of its richness. Let's look at three instances of this limited version of love.

#1 Love between man and woman

This love beautifully illustrates how a man and woman can become caught in the joy of serving the needs of the other. They are willing to share everything. They can't be apart. Every free moment they talk with each other. It is often called infatuation while some call it 'puppy love.'

"Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you" (Song of Solomon 1:3).

There are depraved forms of these relationships when sexual passion is released or when gifts and time are only a ploy to manipulate and use the other.

When, however, the bridle of lust is kept under control, friendships and relationships can grow quickly and deeply. The guy buys gifts for his loved one simply because he loves her. It greatly pleases him to have her by his side.

However, we only need to enter into one of their arguments to see how superficial this kind of love can be. He usually treats her special, but not during these times! He becomes angry and rather savage. One wonders how things could change so drastically. Simple misunderstandings are heated up to full blown arguments just because they do not have the patience to listen carefully to each other.

Though the man-woman love is special, it points to the need of a greater love.

Building a Great MarriagePurchase  the book 'Building a Greart Marriage or the Marriage Digital Library which includes the book!'You can order the Building a Great Marriage printed seminar materials including handouts at the BFF Resource Center.Or even better get the BFF Marriage Digital Library which includes all all our marriage articles including powerpoints, audios and videos.

Love of a mother for her child.#2 Love of a mother for her child

Many a person has tasted of God's love through a mother's tender touch. They cannot forget this special care. A mother sacrifices herself to care for her children in distress. I am sure that you have heard some of these touching stories like me.

The mother regularly gets up in the middle of the night feeding the infant child. She pours out great emotional and physical energy upon the needy child when facing sickness or other struggles. I know how my mother sacrificed to give my brothers and sisters the best life possible. Each of these stories remind us of God's wonderful tender and sacrificial love.

Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive." ... And the woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. (Exodus 1:22-2:2)

On Motherly Love

"Then some natural feelings are really better than others–I mean, are a better starting point for the real thing?

Better and worse. There's something in natural affection which will lead it on to eternal love more easily than natural appetite could be led on. But there's also something in it which makes it easier to stop at the natural level and mistake it for the heavenly. - C.S. Lewis

However, this love is only a limited version of God's love. We only need to carefully listen to the mother to see her spirit of discontent, frustration and impatience with the child. She might put the upset child down a little hard or speak harshly with the child. She might even threaten to remove her love from her child or leave the vulnerable child stranded.

Though the mother-child love has greatly influenced each of our lives, it still points to the need of a greater love, a heavenly love.

#3 Love of man for country

A fireman's sacrifice for others.During times of great distress, we see a sacrificial and bold love in man. We only need to mention the incident 911, and pictures of heroic firemen bravely working around the burning World Trade Towers pop into our minds.

Why were these men going into collapsing buildings, not sure whether they would come out alive? For who? For strangers. For fellow men and women. This is just one incident engraved on our minds, but the pages of history are full of its great national heroes. They boldly gave everything for the sake of someone else. Memorials of one kind or another scatter our lands embodying our thanks to their sacrificial service of love.

"And it happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments" (1 Samuel 18:6).

However, we do not need to go far to see that this love, at least for the majority of them, is not part of their regular life. This heroic version of God's love lasts but for the brief catastrophic moment. If we would step into the lives of these men a mere 12 hours earlier, we might hear of them talking about divorce, watching pornography, ensnared in a gambling scheme, deliberating on how to take revenge, or filling the air with abusive words.

So Achan answered Joshua and said, "Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: (Joshua 7:20).

Though we are deeply grateful for this heroic love, it points to the need of a greater love.

B) The Need of True Love

Each picture of love powerfully convinces us that this is what our world needs more of. Anyone who has experienced it will say that this love is good and desirable. We would be better as a race if we would more regularly live out these pictures of love.

Most of us stop here though. Perhaps it is because we know too much of human nature to expect such devotion all the time. In the end, we unfortunately accept the limited version of love as the full version. We believe its nice and necessary but impossible. We give up on thinking that we were designed to constantly love.

God has built into us a sacrificial capacity that can overrun our selfish tendencies. This capacity is seen to be called into action only in certain limited but important situations. Would any couple marry if their liking for each other didn't overcome the challenges to establishing deep friendships? Would any child survive a mother's natural selfish tendency if it were not for a special dose of love? Would any country or family stand protected if man's instinctive heroic love didn't subdue their selfish and lazy tendencies?

God gave us these limited versions of love for at least two reasons.

Preservation. God wanted to preserve some form of a decent civilization. If man was free to live by his own passion and lusts, surely our race wouldn't survive more than one or two generations. The 'interruptions' of love enable children, couples and nations to live, endure and exist.
Inspiration. God implanted in all of us a notion of God's genuine love. They might be experienced in the context of some gang, but even there, God's love is real. These limited versions of love give us a taste of God's full love. They are true experiences but quickly become illusive. These versions of love serve as rays of light into this very dark world pointing to the true source of Love.

God's intention is not only to preserve our society from degenerating (point #1), He also wants to inspire us and guide us to something greater (point #2). Man's great acts of love were to give us a glimpse of something that is greater and more glorious.

Building a Great MarriagePurchase  the book 'Building a Greart Marriage or the Marriage Digital Library which includes the book!'You can order the Building a Great Marriage printed seminar materials including handouts at the BFF Resource Center.Or even better get the BFF Marriage Digital Library which includes all all our marriage articles including powerpoints, audios and videos.


We are not to overestimate our own limited love. Our love in each case above is not a pure love. Love is genuinely wonderful, but man's love still is framed by deep black stains of selfishness. We have much to confess for despite the outbreaks of love.

We must strive to obtain this true love. God wants to give us a strong love sufficient for the most difficult circumstances and people. We clearly saw this in Jesus' life and teaching. Love is the hallmark of the Christian. Contentment of our present circumstances leads us to acceptance of them. God wants us to look in faith to Him so that His divine love is generated from within our own lives.

C) The Opportunities of God's Love

We only can meet up with true love when we meet up with God. One cannot find love anywhere else except in knowing God for "God is love." We should not look for love in man but in God. When we discover this love in man, we must not stop there. Man will disappoint, but God never will.

Love by definiton is a constant stream of sacrificial and devoted acts toward another. In summary, love at least must have two elements to be true love. To the degree human love carries out these tasks, the more it is shaped by the divine hand.

We are the window through which God's love shines into the world.1) Love is other–focused

Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 describes love as "... patient, love is kind, ... love does not brag and is not arrogant." Love's beauty is not found in the way it compromises what is best for what is inferior, but in the way it demonstrates its giving nature.

We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

Love excels in what we find most difficult to do:

waiting rather than demanding;
extending tender care to obstinate people;
determining to fulfill the needs of others
at cost to one's own needs and desires;
acknowledgement of our weaknesses rather than
clamoring for compliments.

Many today think the ideal marriage is 50/50, the perfect compromise. God intends the marriage to be 100/100, where each spouse gives his or her total self to each other. Genuine love goes out of his way to patiently, kindly and humbly treat each other. True love is not giving less than what is demanded, but it is the total giving of oneself to rightly care for the other. This is the sacrificial aspect seen above in the three examples but carried out in every situation. God's love does not stop here though.

2) Love is constant

Lastly, love by definition 'does not stop.' Love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." No 'thing' can or will stop true love. Love is not a feeling though it produces many wonderful feelings. Love is above all a commitment to unreservedly give of oneself to another. If love stops, then we know it was not divine love. If love finds barriers with a person's personality, peculiarities, looks or gifts, then we must conclude that our love was merely a form of enchantment or lust.

Love is easier when both are in good health, prosperous, vigorous, young and beautiful, but time brings challenges with it in the form of sickness, weakness, wrinkly skin and an assortment of distractions.

Perfect Love is both other oriented and enduringGenuine love never fails because it does not give up; it can not give up. Love's strength is not derived from what a person sees in another but by ones commitment to that person. Love demands every last drop of selfishness. Real love doesn't stop with the struggles of life but grows in a fuller way as one stands in God's presence.

Love is not ignorant of the troubles, the pain, the hurt, and the shame that is present or threatened, for it is in these very circumstances that love grows stronger. Many people want to get out of marriage when facing great difficulties. This is not true love. Genuine love follows God into eternity.

Summary: We are God's window of love.

God's love is constant, not intermittent. We must accept that standard for ourselves which in essence becomes our life's mission statement. Only by regularly experiencing God's own love will we be able to show His love to others. We are glad for these 'interuptions' of love that couples, mothers and brave men show, but it is not enough. It points us to a greater love that we can find in Jesus Christ.

That is the perfect love that we desire to conquer our lives.

We will next look at love in marriage. Next ->

Quote from C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, p. 88.

Read more exciting and practical articles on marriage. Just click on a link or graphic below.

Developing Love in Your Marriage
Strengthening Godly Marriages: The Marriage Navigator
Renewing Affections between Husband and Wife
God's Sexual Design for Our Lives and Marriages
Goal and Design of Marriage: Intimacy
Helping Solve Marital Problems