I love weddings! As a Christian minister, I love to conduct them. As a husband and father, I love to attend them. To be immersed in so much love at a time and place appointed by God is enrapturing, for marriage was not only instituted by God, but is also a picture of the mystical union between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5).
From the bride and groom looking upon one another with adoration to the older couples holding hands in serenity to the little children dancing and playing, it’s no wonder that the book of 1st Corinthians chapter 13 is a primary
Scripture to include in the wedding ceremony. It is a passage worthy of reflection, for it defines what love is.
“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.”
Did you catch the last sentence in the passage? Love never fails. Let that sink in for a moment.
If love never fails, then why do we keep hurting one another? Why is adultery rampant? Why is the divorce rate so high? Why do we abandon our sacred vows to one another before an ordained minister and in the presence of witnesses and even God Himself? Perhaps we have a skewed understanding of love.
Put simply, love is a verb. Love denotes action. If you’re relying on feelings to sustain your marital relationship, then you’ll be disappointed because feelings come and go. There are seasons when you’re “in love” and other seasons when you’re not. Yet if you understand the concept of love being a verb, then you have the potential to experience a love that lasts a lifetime; a love that never fails.
To provide some application, I’ll share some thoughts off the top of my head inspired by the passage in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind.” As I type these words, I’m reminded of the phrase “practicing the pause.” I’ll explain. When Danica is talking to me I shouldn’t cut her off mid-sentence because I think I understand what she’s saying. Rather, the goal is to actively listen and understand what she’s saying before replying. This is a skill difficult for anyone to acquire, yet when mastered shows love in action.
“Love does not boast, it is not proud.” Have you ever met someone who can’t admit when they’re wrong? This is one of the many expressions of pride. Long ago Danica and I decided to say the following phrase when we would get into an argument – “I’m sorry, I’m wrong, I love you, please forgive me.” It’s amazing how effective those words are in diffusing a squabble, that is, if it comes from someone who doesn’t need to be right.
“Love is not self-seeking.” This is perhaps the most challenging characteristic of love to develop because it goes against the very fabric of our fallen nature. We seek to provide for our own needs, wants and desires above our spouse’s. Yet, if the Holy Spirit truly dwells in us, we won’t be governed by our fallen nature, but rather by our new nature in Christ! As a determined act of the will, we will joyfully resolve to put our spouse’s needs, wants, and desires above our own.
This type of love is called “agape” love and it certainly isn’t based on a feeling! It’s the sacrificial love modeled by Christ when, “while we were yet sinners, He died for us,” (Romans 5:8.)
I am convinced that a successful marriage can only be attained through the help of God for it requires that we also, in a sense, die for our spouses. We die to our own selfishness (1 John 3:16.)
~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.