The BFF Digital Libraries

Facebook BFFBFF is now on Facebook! Please visit and join us in releasing God's powerful Word to our generation!

God's peace can help us live above anxieties as we learn to trust in Him!

The Lord Your Healer: 

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

Newest! The Lord Your Healer

Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch

First step of discipleship
revive devotions
Advanced Discipleship

The Bible Teaching Commentary on Genesis: The Book of Foundations

Commentaries that specialize on training the teacher!

Overcoming Anxiety: Finding Peace, Discovering God


Building a Great Marriage

Building a Great Marriage

“Love Never Fails”

Session #10

Paul and Linda J. Bucknell

Building a Great Marriage Index:
Faith: #1 Hope | #2 Love | #3 Submission | #4 Oneness
Forgiveness: #5 Conflict | #6 Crises | #7 Forgiveness
Friendship: #8 Intimacy | #9 Trust | #10 Love works!

The Channel of Love | The Description of Love

“Love Never Fails”

Purpose: 'Love Never Fails' helps us see that 'love' is the key to a great marriage by always working and never failing us. We discuss both how we bring love into our marriage as well as discuss how love shows itself practically in our marriages from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. This is part #10 which concludes 'Building a Great Marriage!'

A) The Channel of Love

A) The Channel of Love
B) The Description of Love

God has created each of His children to be a conduit of His love. There is no grander place for this to be seen than in marriage. Wherever God’s love comes down and touches a heart, people are changed for the good. We can see this when Jesus mingled with the people when walking through their towns. They loved Him. We will also see the same things happen when a husband or wife deliberately chooses to love his or her spouse.

Paul & LInda on 26th anniversaryTo choose love is to respond to God. When God’s love is in our relationships, special things occur. As spouses we need to be committed to bringing God’s love to our mates.

We need to be strategic. Although husbands are especially commanded by God to love their wives, we will see that both husbands and wives greatly shape the beauty of their marriage by deliberately choosing to love their spouse. Maybe you wonder how to do this.

 As Christians, we need to walk closely with God to get that love. Only His love can help us through difficult relationship problems. Love helps us to have the proper personal motivation (love the unlovely), the needed strength (ability to carry out practical acts of love) and design (help on practical ideas).

All through the gospels Jesus regularly took time to be alone with His Father. This enabled Him to be a vessel that His Heavenly Father used to bring His love and healing to people. In a similar way, we need to meet regularly with God to know how best we can show God’s love to our spouse. Let me share a story with you about a practical way to show God’s love.

A Love Story

This past week I made a daring adventure, a love adventure. Last year was our 25th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately we couldn’t get away for an overnight trip. But we didn’t forget about it. Several months ago we were talking and wondering whether we could get away for an overnight trip this year–without the children, of course. It sounded good to me. I, as the husband, needed three things to pull it off: Faith, hope and love.


I needed to believe that we could get it done with God’s help (faith).
I also needed to have the idea or vision for an overnight wedding anniversary trip (hope). I needed one more thing, however.

I actually needed to make loving plans and carry them out (love).

In this case we had several challenges. Many would think our chief concern was finding someone to care for our eight children. Well, with our oldest two, this is not a real problem for us. Though to be honest, it is always a struggle for Mom to leave the little ones. This was true for Linda too. Our greatest challenge was the time. This is one of the busiest times in our lives. I am in the midst of teaching four series and preparing many of those materials for the web.

Channel of God's love into marriageGuess when our anniversary falls? Right smack in the middle of this extremely busy time. It would be easy for me to say that we will go later. I believed it was the right time. But something more, I believed that God could help us get all the work done in spite of taking off for fifty hours together to some romantic spot.

Why? God has been deliberately training us over the previous two months about how He would help us overcome all sorts of obstacles to get His work done. I decided if He could help us then, then why not with this situation.

Of course we needed to look at the schedule. Fortunately, one series just ended so we had an open window. Then we saw the right-priced travel deal. The hope for this trip has been there for over a year. The Lord gave the faith so that we could actually do it.

Now, however, I needed to make reservations and start preparing to be away. We just got back and had a wonderful time. God arranged this get-away. He enabled us to enjoy it. Linda didn’t need to worry about the children or I about the work still waiting to be done. Instead we could reflect on our past 26 years and look ahead together to our years to come. The more we celebrate our oneness and in different ways affirm it, the easier it is to put off the difficulties that are associated with a ‘two-ness’ life.

God’s Greater Way

1 John 4 shows us how love has penetrated our world. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the source of love is God Himself. He first loved us.

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

As His children, God no longer allows us to say, “I can’t love.” Or “It is too hard.” Did you notice that this verse doesn’t just say that God loved us through Christ? It also states in clear words that, “We love.” On Judgment Day, God will not allow all those excuses about busyness, poverty, inability, lack of affection, etc.

buy marriage bookGod changed our whole orientation to this problem when He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world. By becoming God’s children, we are now able to tap into His powerful source of love.

If you ever begin to sense a loss of interest in loving, giving up hope to persist in love or simply don’t think your love is good enough, refresh yourself in God’s presence and again regain His love. Some people who are on the verge of giving up might ask, “If we are but a vessel that is pouring out God’s love, then are we no longer doing the loving, are we?” Of course we are.

The verse above states that God’s love becomes integrated into our lives. How does this happen? When we meet Him each day, we talk to Him and read His Word. We get to know Him more and more. His mindset more and more becomes ours. We are greatly indebted to God for His great love for us. As God’s love flows into our own lives, so it can flow into our lives and marriages. Only regular intimate contact with God keeps the river of love from running dry.

This is the reason we simply state that one of the most important things needed for an ongoing love is to meet personally with God on a regular basis. Do you meet with the Lord every day? How can you reflect His love if you don’t meet with Him in a personal way?

Let’s draw near to Him just now.

Dear Father in Heaven, imitation love just isn’t going to make it in our world. It is not good enough for our marriages. Cheap human love does not bear, endure and persist. We are impatient, unkind and outright rude. Our so-called love is not love. We need to get deeper Lord. We need to seek Your face for your divine and glorious love to spring forth in our hearts and marriages. If we are content with a cheap love, break us until all the contamination of the world falls off. Reveal the greater glory of the heavenly love. It is time that all of our marriages be touched with Your divine love for You are love.

By this time you are probably wondering what is divine love look like in a marriage. Fortunately, God has given us a great practical description of this love. 1 Corinthians 13 is the great ‘Love’ chapter of the Bible. What makes it so? I believe it is because the true character and power of love is revealed. It is much like looking at the sun. We are forced to turn away from it because of the powerful way God’s love is revealed to us.

Do remember now, that all genuine love is like this. This is what love is. Genuine love can withstand the great pressures that earthly love cannot. Our upbringing is good to a certain point, but it never really endures.

You can order the Building a Great Marriage printed seminar materials including handouts at the BFF Resource Center or just get the BFF Marriage Training Library which includes all our marriage articles including powerpoints .

B) The Description of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Although many people would claim to love, only a few have been seized by its magnificent power, insight and commitment. We see the shallowness of people’s commitments when those who take their marriage vows state that they will stay married “as long as we both shall love”. Truly, they don't have any notion of what true love is. The true marriage vow states, “As long as we both shall live.” Love by definition has many components, without them, it is something other than 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;

Let us take a look at each of these components, and what they look like in the context of marriage.

Definition of Love

Description of Love


The Path of Love

Rejection of Love



Do I express a forbearing spirit that enables me to listen to and care for my spouse?

The loving spouse does not insist on his own schedule and time constraints. People, especially hurt people, can absorb much time. They might need a lot of time at busy times. The patient person trusts God with his very limited time.

The patient person trusts God for wisdom to kindly care for each person.

Late for dinner.

With another’s sinfulness.

Taking longer to get ready than thought.

“I know I was going to go do something, but it sounds like we need to talk abut this matter. What if we talk about it now?”

“I sense you believe that I hurt you somehow. Could we talk about it? I really didn’t mean to hurt you.”

 “Why are you making me late again!”


“That’s not the way it should be done!”


“Yea, is that so. We’ll you are not so perfect yourself.”


Do I always express myself to my spouse in a kindly manner?

“Truth in love.”

Love is kind. We might think this needs not to be said but after a careful examination of what is done in the name of love, we are wise to measure love only with the measuring cup called ‘kindness.’

If a person is not kind in attitude, action or word, he simply is not loving.

In a rush

A meal not prepared as liked

Husband doesn’t get around to jobs.

Polite language

“Could you say that again for me please? I didn’t quite hear you.”


I wanted to buy this for you to express my love for you.

Rude language

“I told you so!”

“Shut up!”

“That was stupid!”

“You always are like this.”

is not


Do I get jealous or envious at the attention my spouse gets?               

Jealousy and envy are the same word in Greek. By pursuing after what one’s mate has, it reveals a basic discontent with one’s own friends, situation or person. The focus on what one does not have brings him or her to think in opposition to his spouse. Love commits itself to bringing benefit to the other person.

Attention received.


Fringe benefits.

Health advantages.

“That was nice you could say that to him.”

“I’m so happy for him!”

“I focus on excelling on what responsibilities God has given to me.”

“Why did you say that to her?” (Suspicious)

“Why does he get all the attention?”

“It’s easy for him. I just watch these kids all day long.” (self-pity)

does not brag

Do I tell about my great accomplishments in such a way that makes my spouse feel ‘small’?

This person holds back from impressing his spouse. In order to brag or boast, a spouse often is willing to say how much better he is than his spouse and thus states the inferiority of his spouse. Love enables a spouse to see the great things in his spouse and speak of these things.






“Are you having trouble with that? Would you want me to help you?”

Be quiet about how certain God-given gifts have enabled you in certain ways.

“Did you hear how I …?”

“Why can’t you …?” (Make feel stupid).

“Oh, I’ve never had that problem. Why can’t you …?”

is not

Do I think my needs are more important than my spouse’s?

The loving person thinks highly of his spouse. He or she is important to his or her welfare. Because the arrogant person thinks more highly of him (her) self, he treats his spouse poorly, thinking he is to be served. Love prefers the spouse over his/her desires.

Cleaning a mess

Having a servant mind.

Making nice compliments.

“Can I help you clean that?”

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I appreciate how you do that. It really helps me so much.”

“If I was doing it, I wouldn’t …”

“I can get by without you!”

“What did you do that for? That was stupid!”

does not act

Do I act rudely or sarcastically to get more attention at the cost of my spouse?   

The loving spouse does not seek attention from others at the expense of his spouse. Drawing attention to ourselves is the opposite of love where we would draw attention to the people in need.

Rudely get attention

Apologizes if catches himself being rude

Dress, dirty jokes, manner of talking.

Don’t say rude jokes or things that cut people down.

Don’t do or say unseemly things.

“I’m sorry. I spoke lightly of you to my advantage. In fact you are so precious to me. Forgive me.”

“Did you hear about … (some rude joke)?”

“Do you know what my wife did? Let me tell you ….”

“My husband is an absolute jerk. He …”

Definition of Love

Description of Love


The Path of Love

Rejection of Love

does not
seek its own

Do I seek the things that I like more than what my spouse prefers?

A loving spouse seeks the welfare of his or her spouse. If we prefer ourselves, then we will give ourselves preferential treatment. We will even lie, cheat, backbite, slander, etc. to serve our own needs over our spouses.

Ignore responsibility so can please oneself.

Break morals to gain my own desires.

“Why don’t you take a nap. You don’t feel too well. I’ll help you clean up around the kitchen.”

“Why don’t you take a rest.” Pretends caring for her when all he really wants is to view an uninterrupted sport’s game.

is not

Does your spouse easily upset you during his or her irritable times when he or she makes you feel inferior, humiliated or just ‘put down’?

The loving spouse does not easily get upset with his spouse. He loves her/him. He might be inconvenienced or his pride attacked, but true love is not easily shaken. Pretend love quickly changes its position. It is unable to live by the principle of dedication.

Spouse is angry and yelling.

Spouse is irritable because it is hot out.

Your wife’s critical monthly moody time.

“Could we please talk about this a bit later? Our voices are getting too loud.”

(Don’t say anything; just keep enjoying your day.)

Instead of getting upset, you use that energy to do something extra nice for her.

“My fault you say! Well you have it all wrong!”

“Why do you always have to ruin a great day with your comments!”

“If I can’t do anything right, then why did we get married!”

does not
take into account a wrong suffered

Do I quickly forgive my spouse and refuse to get bitter?

The loving spouse does not get bitter. Wounded, hurt and mistreated it might be, but love will always forgive. She does not store up memories of wrong or plan for revenge. Love wipes clean the account of wrongs each day to enable her to keep caring for the needs of his or her spouse.

Forgot to do something important.

Said something mean to you.

Refuses sex.

“I was hurt a lot. Thanks so much for straightening things up. It is so much better!”

“Please forgive me.”

“I forgive you.”

“Oh no. I remember last time you really blew it.”

“Don’t bother me!”

“I cannot ever forgive you. Even if I could, I wouldn’t.”

does not
rejoice in

Do I take a sense of pleasure when my spouse agrees to do evil?


The loving spouse is sad of any kind of evil found in his spouse. He never encourages wicked behavior and rejects the temporary gains to be won from it.


Watching a sensual or violent movie together.

Going gambling together.

Lie about something together.

Switch partners.

“I really desire to be with you but I cannot watch things that displease the Lord.”

“But we are not everyone. I can’t sign that form.”

“God doesn’t want us to use that money.”

“Why don’t you watch this with me?” (Dirty or violent film).

“Everyone else cheats on their taxes.”

“I knew that bet would pay off!”

rejoices with the truth

Do I delight in seeing how God helps our marriage in so may ways through observing His truth?

The loving spouse has a great delight when he sees God working in his spouse’s life through his or her obedience to God’s Word. Love's companion is truth where the light shines brightly and lies and unfaithfulness are broken apart.



Trusting financially.


“Although we might go without because of that decision, I am glad we did the right thing.”

“Did you notice the great way God has overcome our fears?”

“I can’t. I’m too fearful.”

“I am so worried that I can’t do what I should be doing.”

“No.” (Refuses to apologize.)

all things

Do I shoulder the burden and pain that comes from my marriage that we might gain an even greater marriage?

The loving spouse is willing to put up with all sorts of pain, insult and even injury so that he might like Christ cover the incident with love.

By bearing all things, love can withstand the great shocks of rudeness, sin and absolute depravity. Out of the muddy waters comes the white lily flower.

Physical pain.

Emotional pain.



“I will forgive you. I have decided that I just need like Jesus to accept the pain that I have suffered from you. There is no way to pay that back. “

“The pain is too great. I just can’t.”

“Why should I forgive you?”

“You hurt me. I’ll never forgive you.”

all things

Do I trust God for help, strength and renewal for each marital difficulty that I face?

The loving spouse trusts God and His perfect design of marriage. He refuses to react to his spouse but instead trusts God for strength and wisdom to properly care for his or her spouse.


An unfaithful spouse.

In sickness.

In extreme busyness.

One spouse gives up on a certain area of their marriage.

“God has given me special grace to serve during such times of crises.”

“I can’t do it in my own strength but God is my help.”

“Someway God will work it out to a greater good.”

“I can’t trust you anymore.”

“I don’t think anything good can come out of this marriage.”

“I want out.”

“Here are the divorce papers.”

all things

Do I treat each challenge in my marriage with a generous dose of expectation that God can somehow do something special even in the most desperate situations?

The loving spouse has an inner aspiration to make their marriage work. He or she is not blind to the problems. The difference is solely in how God can make each case into a special opportunity to serve and show God’s love. God's grace can shine into the darkest places.

Critical spouse.

An affair.



“God will somehow work it out.”

“God’s way is always greater.”

“We just need to believe in Him.”

“How could I ever live with him after that?”

“I just can’t go on.”


all things

Have I made a commitment to love and prize my spouse? Have I renewed that commitment at all?

The loving spouse has chosen to love for life. The commitment is a one-time affair but the opportunities spread over the married life.

Our love in itself is limited but when God's love fills us, then nothing can stop it. God's love endures shame, reproach, evil, and humility just as God's love in Christ pursued all these things so that we could receive that love.





“You might be hard on me, but I have committed myself to serve you for life. Nothing is going to change this. This is my life. It might be more pleasant or hard, but I am going to love you with God’s love.”

“I give up.”

“I can’t put up with this another minute.”



Am I confident of the power of God’s penetrating love in every aspect of my marriage?

There are no limitations with God's divine love. God's love does not stop with the sunset or begin with the new week. Divine love will always continue throughout time and eternity. In the darkest of nights, there will always be the eternal light of God's love. Love will outshine hatred and penetrate the vilest evil with sacrifice.

May we love our spouse as He has loved us in Christ.


 Love never fails!

Love never fails. This capstone upon the description of love is not a simple monument but a clear testimony of the most powerful force on earth. When we choose to give up and choose other than love, we simply are allowing the darkness of the world to seize our marriage. It was like my engine motor that finally seized up after 150,000 miles. The friction was too much and the lubrication too little. It burnt solid. Without God’s love, this will happen to all of our marriages.

God’s love, however, can take any devastating and dark situation and bring God’s light to shine. This is what God did with Jesus Christ. Read how the darkness cannot be overcome with darkness.

"The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out" (John 1:5 Philips).

The same is true with God’s powerful force of love. Notice how faith and love are joined together.

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:2-5).

The question is not whether you can have a great marriage. buy marriage bookThe question is whether you will live by faith in getting one. As God’s child you have the key to a great marriage. It is God’s divine love.

Many people think that it rests with their own emotional love. This is what happens to new couples. They live in love for a while but that emotion fades and they no longer have the emotion to cover or overlook the sins of their spouse.

Others think it requires dutiful and wearisome carrying out of his or her marital duties. Whether it is cutting the lawn, washing dishes, or having sex, they plug away. They think this is the ultimate of marriage. God in 1 John 5:2-3 says that keeping His commands are not burdensome. What he means is that when we begin to catch the heart of serving, every wall or door becomes an opportunity. There is no end to finding these opportunities to serve.

As long as we are faithful serving, God’s love is alive and flowing through our own lives and into our marriage. In most cases this love will begin to touch your spouse’s life, though not always.

The Detour of Love

I started with an example from our recent anniversary. Allow me to share one more typical scene to show you how love works itself out.

We were already two hours late leaving. That was all right; we were both busy. We had a four-hour trip ahead of us. I wanted to leave early so to miss rush hour traffic and long immigration lines. With this two-hour loss, now we might not miss the lines. About two hours into the trip, we were talking about the rest of our trip.

Linda mentioned how she would love to dip her feet in the waters of Lake Erie. All I thought about was long rush hour lines. You can see the analytical man and the feeling woman in conflict. We were not arguing. The conflict was in my mind.

Linda wets her feet in Lake ErieShe would like to do this one thing. I think it would be best to push forward. But the purpose of the trip is to enjoy each other’s company. So I tuned into her real desire and took the scenic route that went along the coast.

In the end we found that this way actually was better and we both enjoyed it. I had to remember that God speaks through my wife. I need to value her. By doing that, our marriage would be all the more tremendous and wonderful.

And guess what? Along that road we found a state park that wasn’t charging that day. We went down to the shore and had the whole park to ourselves. We had a nice picture by the lilac bushes in bloom. Linda got to wet her feet in the waters of Lake Erie. We had the most pleasant drive possible on that lakeshore road.

The wrestling of wills will always be there, sometimes stronger than at other times. But we need to remember God’s greater purpose. By choosing to serve we have made the best choice. When we make the best choice of love, we gain the reward. In this case it took a subjugation of my mind to lift up her ideals and good pleasures. For me it was going out of the way. But it really was going the right way of love. Love would take me in the path of service.

I should add that she was also loving. She was not demanding. She didn’t seem that she would become at all resentful if I chose not to go that way. She only kindly shared with me some of her thoughts and ideals. She allowed me to work through this situation in my own mind and trusted God for the results. Her kind and winsome words made me really want to please her. In the end I found myself asking her to find a possible route we could take to the shore and test out that road. We found that road was so good that we even took it on the way back home.


We can’t lose with love, but we can lose without it. Satan sometimes tricks us into thinking that our spouse is the enemy to a good life. Absolutely not. God has proclaimed us one. Love is the basic way to work out our good and kind deeds to our spouse to preserve the relationship. The apostle told the husbands to love their wives as their own bodies.

From a quick look at this description of God’s love, we should recognize that our ability to love is wrapped up in how much we are growing as a Christian. We need to keep growing so that we can regularly commune with God and He with us. God has designed our marriages to be the place that we can work through some of our personal struggles Grow with God. Grow in your marriage.

We all can have Great Marriages. God is at work to give us what we so desperately need. Now if we would just begin to choose to consistently love. Start with one day at a time.  Early each day cry out, “God help me to love my spouse today. Give me strength. Give me creativity.” Do it that way for a week. Then commit yourself to God for loving your spouse for a week. Keep at it.

God’s solution, “Love never fails” might seem rather idealistic, but He is convinced that it works. He loved the world and sent His only Son to die on the cross for His people’s sins. He knew love would greatly cost Him but that it would supply what was needed to accomplish His great plan for His stubborn people that He choose. Love never fails. God always wins. Today be strategic. Choose His way of love. You will have a great marriage.

"Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.” (Song of Songs 8:6-7)

 Love excels in accomplishing 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 ones own needs and desires;

acknowledgement of our weaknesses rather than clamoring for compliments.


Study Questions

This Building a Great Marriage can be purchased in our store. It comes in easy download formats and includes study questions, footnotes and all the chapters.

This concludes the series: Building a Great Marriage
Read more exciting and practical articles on marriage. Just click on a link or graphic below.

You can order the Building a Great Marriage printed seminar materials including handouts at the BFF Resource Center or just get the BFF Marriage Training Library which includes all our marriage articles including powerpoints, audios and videos.