I want you to grasp this principle: the Christian marriage has a distinct advantage over the non-Christian marriage because of the divine power within believers to live out the attributes of love. The Christian surrendered to the Lord lives out the command of 1 John 4:7–8: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” As Christians, if we can do all things through Christ, if He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, if we have received every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, then there is no reason the love in our marriage should fail.
Again, if you feel like love has left your marriage, it’s because you’re not doing marriage right. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that love is a clinical set of rules that can be followed without any expectation of feelings or romance. What I am saying is that love is a series of attributes that, when embraced, creates the emotional ties and feelings that never fail. Love is not the feelings, but the actions that precipitate the feelings. That’s an important point to remember. One of the main reasons that the divorce rate is as high in the church as it is in the world, I believe, is that we have reduced love to a “secondhand emotion” and a “sweet old-fashioned notion,” as Tina Turner said. We have bought into the world’s definition of love instead of God’s. We are dependent on emotion, and when emotions change, we assume love has failed. Love definitely includes feelings and emotions, but it is not strictly defined by them. Think about this: Have you ever gotten out of bed one morning and just didn’t feel right?
Did you go to work feeling mad at the world and despising your job, thinking that any other job would be better than this one? In other words, you were having an off day, and it colored your perspective. Millions of people have had these kinds of feelings and emotions one day and then felt very differently the next day, but they didn’t quit their jobs when they were feeling bad. Sadly, some people do not treat their marriage, which is sacred and holy before God, with as much respect as they do their job. When they don’t feel like they used to, they’re out of there.
If we were to return to God’s definition of love as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13, if we were to put into practice the attributes of love, what a difference that would make in our marriages! Imagine your marriage if patience, kindness, and long-suffering were the norm and not the exception. What would happen if arrogance were banished, rudeness discarded, and provocation ignored? If you think that’s too tall of an order, consider again. Didn’t Jesus our Savior exemplify all those attributes of love and more when He walked among us—even all the way to the cross?
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.