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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
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.
To 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.
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.
Guess 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
She 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)
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.
1. How do we bring God’s love into our marriages?
2. How do we ourselves get more of God’s love?
3. What were the three things needed for that man to get out on an overnight anniversary trip?
4. How did God train the husband so that he had faith to trust God regarding his work?
5. Will we be able to make any excuses for not loving? Why not? (see 1 John 4:19).
6. Write down and memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
7. Which three statements challenge you the most in your marriage? Why?
8. “Love _______ fails” is the key phrase for this session. Do you really think that God’s love can help every marriage? Why or why not?
9. Are you conscious on how one must go out of his or her way to serve one’s spouse?
10. How does one’s Christian growth affect the welfare of his marriage?
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.
 Some components are easier to understand than others. We should remember that the original context is a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to a divisive church body. Instead of working toward the welfare of the whole, they focused on their own fleshly thoughts. A couple can also use these verses to see what true love really looks like.
 “Bear” here literally means to ‘cover.’ The noun form is roof. Just like 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” The only way we will have sufficient love for doing this is by being fervent in our love.