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Purpose: Great marriages require husbands to choose to love their wives with God's unconditional agape love , an unfailing and pesistent love. In this third section of session 2 of Building a Great Marriage, we gain a clear understanding what kind of love God wants us to have as we compare the three kinds of love.
Love is the supreme choice. A man has two possible responses to God’s love through Jesus Christ. He can accept it or reject it. He can be influenced by God’s love or shun it. If we embrace His love and determine to love, we love. When we refuse His love, then our response is shaped by our own will, desires or social expectations.
The Greek has three words for our English word for ‘love.’ Only agape love is a love that gives even when it gets nothing in return. Agape love responds to the responsibility to meet the needs of others regardless of the situation. What kind of love does your marriage run on?
Love: Three Greek words
|Description||Unconditional love||Social love||Passionate love|
|Loves because of commitment||Loves as one is loved||Loves to get loved|
|Motivated by God’s command and other’s need.||Motivated by expectations of others||Motivated by self pleasure|
|Willing to make sacrifices||Tries to make an even trade-off||Willing to sacrifice others|
The New Testament uses the Greek word agape to describe God’s gracious love that in turn should drive the husband to consistently love his wife. He doesn’t love everyone with that devotion. He commits himself to love his wife.
The Greek word eros describes a passionate love often used in sexual contexts (note the derived English word ‘erotic’). Philia on the other hand describes a trade-off love, “You are nice to me and I am nice to you.” We see this kind of love happening in families and with friends.
The lust-oriented excitement that eros marriage provides fades very quickly. Those who base their marriage on sexual desire will soon look elsewhere for more excitement. Once offenses build up, it is no longer possible to have fun at home. This is one of the reasons this crowd is trying to gain the same privileges for their partner lifestyles.
Philia love wears thin very quickly too. If my spouse is mean to me, should I return the meanness? Where does it end? If the way I respond to my spouse is dependent on how they treat me, then there will be a slow movement toward death. Because of our sin nature, we need a love that is not dependent on how the other person responds to us.
Covenant love, well known by the Greek word, agape, agrees to love because of the commitment we make to our wives. We love because we are supposed to. Of course our love’s source is God’s love for us. Christ loved us first.
God brought love into the world; He loved the unlovely. The clearer the husband can commit himself to this sacrificial love, the stronger that love gets. This love can also be seen in the Old Testament through the word ‘lovingkindness’ (Hebrew hesed). It is a covenant love. I love because I am committed to love.
Husbands are told to love because they are prone to live self-oriented ways. Love is so necessary for the cultivation of the wife’s glorious being. Love is the motivating power to treat others well no matter how that person responds to you. In many cases it would seem that our wives do not at all deserve kind acts. This is possibly true. But this is the age of grace not judgment.
Please click below to watch the the video for Unconditional Love, Lesson #2. Other helpful biblically-based videos from this series are available at the BFF resource store.
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We are called to imitate Christ and refuse to stand in judgment on others including our wives. While judgment is God’s duty, forgiveness is man’s responsibility. We plead for grace to live out mercy and kindness. Our business and duty is to treat others as they ought to be treated because they are made in the image of God.
In marriage there are many, many opportunities to express this unconditional love. Sometimes it has to do with how one spends his free time.
Does he choose to spend a portion of that time with his wife interacting with her?
Does he show his attraction for her by delighting himself in her?
Opportunities to love abound. We must not think that the only place this love is expressed is in bed! Love requires us to always be sensitive to the needs of our wives.
Marriage becomes an excellent testing ground that reveals the sincerity and depth of love. Day after day, night after night, husbands are given opportunities to love their wives.
The marriage creates an intense context within which the level of love can grow rapidly. We have many opportunities to simply love our wives. On the other hand, hatred can rapidly increase if we are not purposeful in our love. If we turn back from our responsibility to love, then we will turn to our lustful desires. As we lessen our attention to loving our wives, we become more easily attracted to other women.
|"Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is from God; and
everyone who loves is
born of God and knows God."
(1 John 4:7)
We don't naturally possess this kind of love. Self-love interferes with other-love. Examples of love can and should be understood from surrounding conditions like good parental example. Without Christ, we cannot love unconditionally. When a person becomes a Christian, God's love is implanted in their lives.
As God's child the husband is able to draw upon the strength and example of God to help him love his wife as Christ loved the church. This divine love is so essential to Christian living that God says if we do not have love, then we are not of Him.
"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also." (1 John 4:20-21)
Love means we forgive. We cannot grant our wives forgiveness from God. Only God can do that. When a person does wrong to another, he becomes a moral debtor. He held back the good and right action that was owed. As long as the debt stands between them, the relationship will incur all sorts of mistrust. But if we forgive, then we are releasing the moral debt that person owes us.
We can continue on in growing trust in our relationships. We must choose not to take revenge but instead to treat the other with kindness.
Love requires that we put aside our own preferences for the sake of another. How true this is in marriage. In the end the issue is the same. We pay close attention to what she or he likes. This means we wait patiently. It might mean we don't even get the attention that we would like. We should gently communicate our needs to the one we love, but we cannot make demands.
Our primary reason for being here is to love. If I can please my best friend, then I am happy indeed. Lust stains the very path it creates because it is focused on self. When selfish reigns then there is no sensitivity except to ones own needs or wants! When our minds are working to satisfying our own desires, we are figuring a way to get more! We are not thinking about how to give more.
Love is patient. Love means that sometimes we are not loved back. Loving means we sometimes have to wait a long time. Old Testament Law commanded that there be no marital relations during the wife's menstrual period or for a time after the birth of a baby. Would you let your mind and body wander at this time? Or would you exercise self-control to show your loyal devotion to your wife?
“On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Love exercises self-control because through it we can manifest God’s love. In Christ we find all the deepest and necessary strength for our lives to care compassionately for others.
When we are love driven, we are dedicated to distributing God’s kindness to our wives. We trust God to take care of our own needs and desires. Our spouse might be tired, pregnant, mean, sick or just plain distracted. We still seek to fulfill her special needs. We pray, help, encourage, buy flowers, etc. Our goal must not be to get sex but to focus on caring for our wives’ special needs.
This Building a Great Marriage is a long series. We have printed or download ebook editions which make it easier to read and are available with BFF's other great books in our store.