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Purpose: Great marriages need unconditional love from the husband. In this section, Source of Love: God’s design of man, we discover God has designed the man to be able to love his wife through all sorts of difficulties through his dependence upon God. This is 5th section of session #2 of Building a Great Marriage.
There are two sources for gaining this persistent love: 1) God’s design and 2) God’s calling.
The source of love comes through the knowledge of how God has designed us as men. Many of the doubts we have today are because we are no longer convinced that we are designed to love. In fact, for many men this is a new concept. There is always a sense of satisfaction that occurs when we are fulfilling our purpose.
This satisfaction is the opposite of the emptiness that comes when man lives contrary to what he was designed for. God's satisfaction gives a sense of reward, encouragement, dignity and renewed strength. It is fulfillment itself.
When it comes to the ability to love a grouchy, upset and possibly frigid wife, we need to go back to our calling and design. This is what we are supposed to do. God made us for it. How does it work?
Love is the opposite of lust. Lust is only temporarily satisfied. And then it demands fulfillment again and again. Guys brag, but did you ever hear anyone bragging about how badly they felt afterwards?! Nope.
Love is the opposite. Love is fulfilling even if we do not get any nice response. Why? Love is a spiritual life principle built into the world and our lives. A person gains a sense of fulfillment merely by giving of himself. The drive for love is giving. Giving then provides more inner fuel for more love.
When I fix my gutters, I need to climb a 30+ foot ladder. Every time I come down I hope it is my last time to go up that ladder. How do I get up there without fear paralyzing me?
I see other men climbing tall ladders.
I look at the instructions on the ladder that assure me that the ladder can hold my weight.
I also remember that I was up on that ladder before, and it held me up fine.
If I didn't have confidence in the ladder, I would leave it in its storage place. But confidence in its design enables me to do things that I would otherwise not do.
Great marriages are built by men who brave the unknown by trust in God's design of marriage. We don't have all the love that our lives will need at once. But more love comes as we presently give of ourselves. The husband needs to give. Turned away? Rejected? Be patient. Love again. Turned back again? Criticized? Keep loving. Love endures.
When does it end? When the situation is difficult, we look for an end to it. This is normal. Nobody likes such difficult hardships. We might hope for a 'pop' change that all of sudden makes it easier. They sometimes come, but they are not solutions to a love that does not endure.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a).
As we endure in our love for our wives, we will see one of two possible things happen. Because of our marriage covenant, we are committed to our wives no matter what.
Possibility #1 Breakthrough of Agape Love
Ephesians 5 indicates that a husband's consistent love can melt down the distrust of his wife. Christ's love causes the church to more devoted to God. In a similiar way, a husband's consistent and unselfish love causes a wife to grow in her beauty.
"Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27, NASB).
God can use our consistent love to help strip away our wives’ flaws. A husband's love is to be so constant that it wears down the dam of distrust. By God’s grace, she slowly begins to understand what she never could before: genuine love.
Wives brought up with criticism or indifference, for example, have a difficult time believing someone truly loves them. She suspects her husband’s motives. During times of crises, the wife can gain a glimpse of genuine love through her husband’s persistent loving behavior.
Her shell of distrust begins to soften. She begins to slowly understand how someone can truly love her just from devotion rather from what they can get from her.
At that point she will begin to become increasingly receptive. A new sense of trust has been stirred. Her spots and wrinkles are being ironed out. She responds to his gestures and words of love. More will be said of this in the next session.
Possibility #2 The Endurance of Agape Love
The second possibility is more difficult to accept. God is entrusting a few husbands with the opportunity to love their wives without seeing much, if any, change. It is much like a soldier who goes out to war. If he primarily is watching out for his own life rather than his buddies, then he makes a very poor soldier. He is a threat to others.
He cannot see how the ultimate goal of the war is of more importance than his own life. However, if he is willing to give his life for the sake of a greater good, then he becomes a brave soldier. Fears do not control him. His reward will be found in the life after this one.
Some might think this is too much for God to ask of us. We are a sissy generation of men. Bravery and courage are obscured by the darkness of selfish pleasure. We have no greater goals that call us beyond our immediate sensual pleasures.
God's own Son, Christ Jesus, however was asked to love an obstinate people. This love saw no instant reward. His disciples fled from Him in His darkest hour. He even saw Peter deny Him. God, however, caused a greater good to come from His sacrificial love. The same will be true for us too. God always greatly uses enduring love even if we cannot see the results of it here on earth.
We cannot see the whole picture from this side of life. We must not insist on seeing it. Some of us like Hosea will be asked to love during the most trying circumstances. His wife ran off several times prostituting herself to others. Others like Job will need to love their wives even when they themselves are in desperate need. He lost his children and was plagued with a horrid disease. His wife did not support him during this time.
Christ lived out love because it was the right thing to do. He was called to do it. Did God's people deserve it? Not at all. Husbands likewise are called and designed to give themselves for their wives in unconditional love. Each husband is called to offer that sacrifice of self. We simply must accept God’s decision on when to show its fruit. Every husband should love his wife with a life–long love. This is sacrificial, unconditional love.
If we are going to run the race, then let us run to win. We need a picture of what it means when we cross that line. The Lord will come to us and say, "Good and faithful son, Well done!" We will be able to flash back through our lives to the times when we threw away our idols of self-indulgence and burned them in a sacrifice of self. We pledged ourselves to live according to His design for our lives no matter what the cost.
Any real and holy love for our wives should begin before we get married. In anticipation of giving your whole self to your wife, you must maintain purity in thought, word and deed. Youth must be used to master self-control. She loves to know that she is special. The more vibrant this pre-marriage purity, the easier the 'distrust meltdown' will come.
As His men, we must make the calculated decision to spread God's amazing and powerful love to our wives and this world. I choose to love. Do you?
Continue reading to see how pledges and prayers are used to form a strong foundation for a life of unconditional love!
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.