Love & Marriage

My husband and I have been married for 23 years. Like all couples we’ve had great times, good times, and not so good (bad) times in those 23 years. I sign us up for lots of marriage conferences and classes. Not because I think we have a bad marriage, but because I want us to have the best marriage possible. We recently started our latest marriage class. It has stirred up a few things in my heart regarding love and marriage.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19, NIV

Our latest lesson was entitled “Radical Love”. I believe to love radically we must first know that we are radically loved by God. Our love, security, identity are found in a loving God. But love is not idle and stagnate. Love moves and can’t help but flow. When we receive it, we then find ourselves having to give it. Our spouses should be the first to taste of this love. It’s good to love our neighbor, to love the widow and the orphan, to love the lost and broken, but sometimes the one closest to us, our spouse, is not shown this great love. I know from experience and there were many times I was the one not showing His love to my husband.

It’s great when you have two people receiving and giving this great love in a marriage, but that’s not always the case. I think it’s very important to realize that you are not responsible and cannot change the other person. The person you can choose to change is yourself. It can start with just one and you are the only one you can change.

Now, let me also mention that you can’t change you. God never intended for you to transform your own heart. He is offering to do that for you. You can’t make that decision for your spouse but you can make that decision for yourself. Choose to let God work in your heart and mind through time spent with Him and in His word.

…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2, NLV

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 NLV

Here are two scriptures that I have found change my heart and mind allowing me to better love my spouse.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Galatians 5:22-23, Amp

I have read these scriptures. I have studied these scriptures. I have meditated on these scriptures. I have taken time to let God talk to me about these scriptures. What was the result? When my husband and I disagreed or argued, when I was tired and hungry and not in a good mood, God’s Holy Spirit would tap me on the shoulder as I spoke or raised my voice to my husband, as I defended myself or my point and simply said, “Was that patient or kind?” “Was that gentle or peaceful?” “Was that love?”

I then had two choices, harden my heart and press my point or yield my heart and simply say, “I’m sorry.”

These two scriptures First Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 tell you who you are and can be because of God’s work in your heart. Read them, study them, meditate on them. Let God talk to you about them. Look into the mirror of God’s word and let it transform you into His image. He is love.

How Interesting

I woke up this morning with a particular scripture on my heart and even before I opened my eyes, a word floated into my thoughts along with a whole view of my recent actions and what they ought to have been.

Here is the scripture:

…let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. (Ephesians 5:33, Amplified)

In my Bible, this scripture references another in First Peter. Let’s take a look at that one too.

In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him-to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. (1 Peter 3:1-2, Amplified)

These two scripture are filled with powerful words that describe how we, as godly wives, can love our husbands. I heard yet another word this morning in connection with the first scripture. I heard the word ‘interest’.

I don’t recall where I read or heard this word in connection with this scripture but I knew when I heard it that love is supposed to show interest in others. Wives are supposed to show interest in their husbands.

We recently moved. We are still living out of boxes. I wake early each morning and begin unpacking. I unpack all day and unpack one last box before going to bed each night. I am very interested in getting all our stuff out of boxes and where it belongs.

Yesterday my husband came home from work excited about something and began talking to me about it, as I unpacked yet another box. As he spoke, I wondered where to put this knickknack I had just unpacked. Would it look good here? Would it look good there?

I then remembered an area I had decorated earlier and interrupted my husband and said to him, “Come look at this!”

Sounds bad I know. I didn’t even realize I did it until I woke up this morning with a scripture and a word that shined a light on my behavior.

It gets worse. Then as he tried to share again, I realized just how tired and hungry I was. When you are unpacking a whole house you sometimes forget to eat and forget what time it is. I then interrupted him again to find out where he was taking me for dinner. (I hadn’t found the box with my pots and pans yet.)

I cringe just thinking about it now. Thank God for His mercy and for His forgiveness by the cleansing blood of Jesus. If my husband is reading this before I get a chance to speak to him. Thank you for your mercy. Please forgive me.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not rude or unmannerly. It does not act unbecomingly. Love  seeketh not her own. She does not insist on her own rights or her own way, for love is not self-seeking. I’d like to add that love shows interest in others.

Love One Another

In John 13:34-35 (Amplified) Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].”

It’s interesting that He says it’s as we love one another that men will recognize us. Many times we major on loving the ones who don’t know Him. We will lay down our lives to spend time with the sick and with the prisoner, but we get impatient with those at home. We’ll spend hours on our knees for the orphans in far away places, but that annoying in-law gets no prayers, just complaints. We are to love one another even when that other lives with us and their actions directly affect us.

I can say that my biggest testing ground for my love walk is at home. It’s easy to put on love when I’m out and about ministering in His Name. But what about when I’m tired and feel spent from a long day and my family is just not cooperating? This is where we find out just how yielded to love I really am.

I will walk a mile to take a drink of water to the hurt and dying world, but will I walk to the kitchen and get a drink when they forget to say please?

I will overlook the sins of others when it doesn’t really affect me. But what about when their actions directly cause me so much pain and trouble?

Here is where we find out, can I love the ones closest to me with all their faults, all their missteps, all their actions that adversely affect me.

When Jesus hung on the cross He looked at those who had just placed Him there, the ones that had beat Him and nailed Him to that cross, and He said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. We are to love the same way He loves.

What are you still holding on to? What are you unwilling to forgive? Love others just like He loved you. Cast all their sins behind your back. Selah.