by Michael Gowens
Everyone is a philosopher
when it comes to love. Definitions are "a dime a dozen." Love
is, says one person, a many, splendid thing. Another sings, "love is
a rose," fragrant and beautiful, but thorny and painful, and another
suggests that "love means never having to say you're sorry." Shakespeare
wrote in Merchant of Venice, "love is blind." Gilbert said,
"it's love that makes the world go round," and Tennyson suggested
that it is "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved
at all." I am convinced, however, that most people, if forced to define
"love," could do no better than Thomas Middleton: "Love indeed
is anything, yet indeed is nothing." The modern mind thinks of love
in vague, nebulous, existential, and non-definable terms. "It's something
that happens to you," people say, "not something that you can
define." This emotional, feeling-oriented, brand of "love"
is promoted not only in music and literature, but by the popular media culture.
Television promotes the "love as romance/passion" model so relentlessly,
that even many Christians are confused about this important subject. In
fact, Hollywood has so successfully infiltrated the Church with its view
of romantic love , that the person who questions it or attempts to suggest
an alternative position is suspect as an unrealistic, unfeeling odd-ball,
if he is even understood. I am aware of that risk as I write. As I proceed
to expose the unbiblical notions people have concerning "love,"
and attempt to reprogram the reader's mind to think about this subject Scripturally,
I expect someone will begin to feel sorry for my wife, or say, "I'm
sure glad I'm not married to you." But I proceed, because of a deep
conviction that misunderstanding about love is at the heart of most relational
Old Wives' Fables
Misconceptions about love are commonplace, even among professed Bible
believers. The need for clear-headed, Biblical thinking about love in this
day of disintegrating families, pandemic divorce, and domestic redefinition
cannot be exaggerated. Let's highlight some of the most popular myths and
"old wives' fables" regarding love.
Fable #1: Love is something one "falls into," something
out of one's control, something that cannot be helped. Most people,
like poor Woody Allen, are miserable because they look for love in all the
wrong places. Like the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda, they spend
their days "waiting for the moving of the water," waiting for
something to happen to them magically and suddenly, waiting for their "ship
to come in," oblivious to the fact that the only One who can truly
transform a life stands in their midst, ready to bless those who will trust
and obey Him (Jno. 5).
Like the impotent man, most people think of love magically, as something
that happens to them, over which they have no control. For example, a man
"falls in love" with a woman. It is "love at first sight."
Five years later, he decides that he doesn't love her anymore, and in fact,
wonders if he ever "truly" loved her at all. So, he leaves, justifying
his actions by the "I-can't-help-how-I-feel" excuse. Society agrees
that he is right to leave since he no longer feels anything for her, and
even commends his bold step as an act of self-honesty: "If he is telling
the truth for the first time, then he's to be commended for stepping forth
and living a lie no longer. Life is too short to spend it with someone you
don't love. His wife must realize that you can't make another person love
you." According to the secular mentality, this husband would be a hypocrite
if he stayed with his wife. Better to be honest with oneself, it rationalizes,
than to live in hypocrisy.
It sounds logical, doesn't it? I mean, if he doesn't love her anymore, what
else can he do? Right? Wrong! Contrary to the popular definition, hypocrisy
is not action contrary to one's feelings (i.e. feeling one way but doing
another) but action contrary to one's profession (i.e. saying one thing
but doing another). "If we say we have fellowship with Him, but walk
in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" says John (I Jno. 1:6).
"He that saith, I know Him, but keepeth not His commandments, is a
liar" (I Jno. 2:4). Hypocrisy is the failure to practice what you preach,
not the denial of some inner emotion. When Jesus called the Pharisees "hypocrites,"
was He saying that they were not being honest with themselves? Did He accuse
them of living contrary to their feelings? No, He accused them of giving
lip service to the Law of God while refusing to practice its tenets. Society
conditions us to think of feelings as the ultimate guide to behavior. "It
can't be wrong when it feels so right," a song popularized in the 1970's
suggested. Somehow, we have come to believe that emotions are indicators
of reality and, to contradict them is tantamount to hypocrisy. Someone says,
"I would have been at church yesterday, but I didn't feel very spiritual
and I didn't want to be a hypocrite." May I suggest that the person
who has "named the name of Christ" in public profession acts hypocritically
by staying home, not by contradicting his emotions, because his action is
inconsistent with the profession he made to follow Jesus Christ. The prevalent
idea that a behavior orientation (i.e. doing right because it is right)
toward life is sub-spiritual and that only a feeling orientation (i.e. doing
right only if you feel like it) is pleasing to God is unbiblical.
Undoubtedly, because this husband had promised, before God, to love his
wife until death, his hypocrisy was in the act of deserting his wife, not
in staying with her and fulfilling his marriage vows. The world says, "at
least he was honest." God's word says, "he was supremely dishonest,
for he broke the vow he had made before God." Have you ever thought
about such a familiar scenario as I've described from this Biblical perspective?
I'm convinced many people have not. In fact, many Christian's would be surprised
to know that the Bible says nothing about a kind of love one "falls
Fable #2 - Romantic love is the basis for marriage. Without
question, most people believe that it is wrong to get married when romantic
love is absent. In Biblical times, however, marriages were frequently arranged
by parents. On many occasions, a husband never laid eyes on his wife until
he removed the veil on the wedding day. Granted, such practices are difficult
for people in a culture like ours to conceive. I am personally grateful
that I had a choice in the selection of a life partner; nevertheless, the
pre-arranged relationships of eastern cultures were just as viable, if not
more, than modern marriages in the west.
It may surprise the reader to know that people actually once covenanted
in marriage though they were not romantically involved and proceeded to
develop a fulfilling, durable, and enjoyable relationship. How did they
do it? They learned to love one another. Learned to love? Yes, learned to
love. This does not sound nearly so foreign when one remembers the structure
of the traditional wedding ceremony. During the ceremony, the minister does
not attempt to discern whether the couple loves one another. He asks each
to promise and to vow to love the other. He does not ask, "Do you really
feel love, true love, for each other?" He insists that they consider
love as an obligation of marriage: "Will you promise to love...until
death do you part?"
Promise to love? You may wonder, "How can someone 'learn' to have a
feeling? How can someone promise to feel a certain way until death?"
That's exactly the point: he can't. Emotions are by their very nature unsteady,
inconsistent, and ambivalent. They vacillate with the ebb and flow of circumstances.
But love, according to God's definition, is not primarily a feeling, but
an action. Biblical love is not the victim of one's emotions, but the servant
of one's will. Marriages are predicated, consequently, on each partners
pledge to commit themselves to act toward the other in a certain way, the
way God's word calls "love." Even if the warm fuzzies of romance
are absent; even when the novelty of the relationship has lapsed into the
familiar; even when the initial emotional intensity has leveled off, a couple
can still cultivate a loving, satisfying, and God-honoring relationship
that is based on a mutual commitment to the other's welfare and obedience
to the word of God. In fact, that is the marital ideal, according to the
Fable #3 - Loving oneself is basic and fundamental to a happy,
stable life. It was once generally accepted that man's greatest
problem was pride, an inordinate self-interest. Now society tells us that
man's greatest problem is that he thinks, not too highly of himself, but
too lowly. He has "low self-esteem." Virtually every vice, from
disruptive behavior to murder, is interpreted as an expression of low self-esteem.
Interpreting human behavior through the philosophical grid of "victimism,"
psychotherapists suggest that the perpetrator cannot really be blamed for
his conduct. He is merely reacting to circumstances that displease him because
he has no inner sense of significance and personal worth. What he needs,
they say, before he can function properly in a social context, is a new
appreciation for his own uniqueness, a new sense of his own importance and
dignity. Once he has developed this "love of self," we are told,
he will have the motivation to resist drugs, make good grades, and overcome
the feelings of despair that come with life's inevitable disappointments.
Pop singer Whitney Houston promotes the gospel of self-love in a contemporary
I believe that children are
our future; Teach them well, and let them learn the way; Teach them all
the beauty they possess inside; Give them a sense of pride...
The message is subtly packaged in a beautiful musical arrangement, accented
by Houston's captivating voice. She continues:
I determined long ago, never
to walk in anyone's shadow, If I fail, if I succeed, at least I'll live
and die, believing, No matter what they take from me, They can't take away
my dignity; Because the greatest love of all, is happening to me; Learning
to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
Is "the gospel according to Whitney" consistent with the gospel
according to Jesus? What did Jesus say was "the greatest love of all?"
Learning to love yourself? Absolutely not! According to the Lord Jesus Christ,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for
his friends" (Jno. 15:13). The Lord interprets love in terms of self-sacrifice,
or if you please, unselfishness, not self-centeredness and self-concern.
Three Kinds of Love
Far from producing happiness and stability, self-love breeds heartache and
confusion. Marriages disintegrate, not thrive, when selfishness prevails.
The moment each partner begins to prioritize self before the other, the
relationship is destined to fail. What would happen to a family of five
if every member adopted a self-absorbed mentality? If each lived for himself
and not for the other, what would become of the family? Sadly, the answer
to that question is all too apparent in the demise of the home in western
"I'm not getting what I want out of this relationship," one mate
says to another. "I don't think I love you anymore." I suggest
that this person has not even started to understand the meaning of love.
In fact, I maintain that many people who say "I love you" are
really saying, in the words of the automobile commercial, "I love what
you do for me." Self-love is not missing; love is. "I don't think
I love you anymore" means "You don't do for me what you once did
and I love myself too much to stay here any longer." Self-love, expressing
itself in self-protection, self-defensiveness, self-assertiveness, and self-righteousness
destroys relationships. It doesn't build them. Christianity, on the other
hand, expressing itself in self-denial, self-humbling, self-forgetfulness,
and self-sacrifice provides a rock-solid foundation for a marriage that
People do not have to "learn" to love themselves. Because man
was created in the image of God, he is a self-conscious creature. Sin has
perverted and distorted this natural self-awareness, however, so that fallen
man tends to idolize and deify the self, devoting his every energy and affection
to the service of the self. "No man ever yet hated his own flesh"
argues Paul (Eph. 5:29). If a man has a headache, he takes an aspirin, because
he loves himself too much to allow his body to hurt. If he is fatigued,
he rests, because he loves himself too much to allow himself to be uncomfortable.
On the basis of this principle, Paul argues that men should love their wives
like they love their own bodies. In other words, a man should take the same
pains to relieve his wife's burdens and promote her welfare that he takes
for his own body. His primary interest should be her well being, not his
own comfort. That is real love - selfless, sacrificial behavior that "esteems
others more important than self" (Phi. 2:3). This kind of love must
be "learned" and developed, for it doesn't come naturally. But
in a fallen world, it is the only kind of love that will produce the happiness
that comes from a stable relationship.
What then is the Biblical view of love? It is expressed by the Greek
word agape. Interestingly, agape was virtually a Christian
invention. Prior to the New Testament, agape was used rarely in Greek
literature. The New Testament elevates agape to prominence as the single
concept that best expresses the meaning of love. Agape is the God-kind
of love. It is a brand of love that is virtually unknown to modern man.
Instead, people think of love in terms of two other Greek nouns, eros,
passionate or romantic love, and phileo, friendship or brotherly
The Profile of Agape
(1) Eros - Romantic Love: When most people think of "love,"
they think in terms of eros (from which we derive the English "erotic").
Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says concerning
the Grecian concept of eros:
"This is the passionate love that desires the other for itself.
The god Eros compels all but is compelled by none....eros masters us and
confers supreme bliss thereby....the original idea is that of erotic intoxication."
(p. 7) This passionate, self-centered, uncontrollable, intoxicating "love"
is promoted by virtually every sector of our society. Romance novels, motion
pictures, floral companies, and record labels feed on the public appetite
for eros. Does such a thing as eros, that is, romance, really exist?
Why, certainly. But it is not synonymous with Biblical love. In fact, eros
is love in its crudest and lowest form. The high and noble concept of Biblical
love is something entirely different. Yet when most people "look for
love," claim to be "in love," or express love to someone
else, they are thinking in terms of eros. To them, romance is life's
supreme glory and matrimony's supreme achievement. When a couple possesses
eros, they believe that they have finally secured that rarest of
all gems, the priceless jewel of "love." They have "arrived."
They fail to realize, however, that this romantic attraction is, first of
all, not very rare, and secondly, only the beginning, not the point of arrival,
of a godly relationship. Eros is the kindergarten of love. It is
the phase in a relationship when two people are attracted to one another,
physically, emotionally, and/or intellectually with a magnetic fascination.
It is the same kind of natural attraction that motivates a female bird to
select one mate above several rivals, each vying for her attention. That
is not to say that eros is strictly a form of animal passion, for,
in contrast to animals, people may very well experience an attraction at
the intellectual and emotional levels, as I mentioned previously. But, like
the bird, different people have different personal preferences and what
appears attractive to one person may not appeal to another. This attraction
manifests itself by an unusual preoccupation with another person. When separated,
the heart longs for his company. When together, the stomach flutters, the
palms become clammy, and the couple becomes oblivious to everything around
them. This is the kind of experience that makes young people "cow eye"
and makes old people "feel young again."
I don't deny that such a phenomena as eros exists. Further, I concede
that most relationships begin at this level. But this is not love -- not
Biblical love, at least. Because so many people mistake romance for love,
it is no wonder that married people "fall out of love" as quickly
as they "fell into" it. Once the novelty and the sense of mystery
is gone; once the initial excitement has been replaced by the routine of
daily responsibilities; once one knows the other person through and through;
once one becomes utterly familiar with the faults, foibles, and idiosyncrasies
of one's partner, those mellow, dreamy feelings can all too easily slip
Neither is it a wonder when one partner suddenly announces that he has "fallen
in love" with someone else and, in fact, has not been "in love"
with his spouse for years. "How can these things happen?' someone asks.
Why do people "lose that loving feeling"? Because they mistake
eros for love. The individual who convinces himself that "love"
lost in one relationship can be recaptured in an adulterous relationship
will eventually leave that relationship for yet another, and that for another,
for he is living by his feelings, and the intensity of romance inevitably
wanes as the sense of mystery fades into the realm of the utterly familiar.
Just because someone may seem interesting, fascinating, or attractive to
you does not mean that you are "in love" with him. In fact, everyone
will periodically come into contact with others who possess characteristics
that intrigue and attract attention. The individual who loves his/her spouse
Biblically, however, will recognize this magnetism for what it is, an untrustworthy,
temporary, and potentially destructive emotion, and will permit it no entrance
into his thoughts.
Sadly, most people make the discovery and perpetuation of eros the
goal of their relationship. Even in Christian circles, romance is frequently
exalted as the marital ideal. Christian books on marriage often emphasize
the "love as romance" model, suggesting that "the honeymoon
doesn't have to end." Is this a legitimate emphasis? Perhaps. But the
point is that romance is not, in and of itself, the essential ingredient
of a marriage that glorifies God and brings fulfillment to each respective
partner -- love is.
(2) Phileo - Friendship Love: Recognizing society's misdirected
emphasis on eros, some married couples have aspired to a higher level
in their relationship and have redefined the marital ideal in terms of "enjoying
the other's company." 'My husband is my best friend,' says one wife.
'We just enjoy being together. We can talk to each other about anything
and everything. Not only do we love, we also like each other.' The
Greek word phileo, translated 'love' in the New Testament, conveys
the thought of friendship love. English words philanthropy (love of mankind),
philosophy (love of wisdom), and philharmonic (love of harmony) are compounds
of phileo, as is the proper name Philadelphia (brotherly love). The
word means "to treat somebody as one's own relative" and is used
in common Greek for love between spouses, between parents and children,
between employers and employees, and between friends.
Phileo conveys the idea of a common interest. Like eros, it is
a concept that involves the feelings. The word carries various emotional
nuances, including "to be content with," "to have warm affection
for," and "to like or value." Unlike the Greek term eros,
which never appears in Scripture, phileo appears some thirty times
in the New Testament.
Is the friendship kind of love important in a relationship? Yes. In fact,
God gave marriage, first and foremost, to satisfy man's need for companionship:
"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help
meet for him" (Gen. 2:18). Togetherness, consequently, is essential
to a godly marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and
his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one
flesh" (Eph. 5:31). The "one-flesh" nature of the marital
relationship makes the cultivation of a friendship between husband and wife
a priority. It is imperative, therefore, that couples take time to communicate,
spend time together, make eye contact, and be attentive to each other. By
nothing more than mere negligence, many people lose that person-to-person
contact that is so necessary to maintain a viable marriage. He becomes preoccupied
with work, cutting the grass, servicing the car, and paying the bills, and
she tends to throw all of her energies into cooking the meals and taking
care of the children, until they one day awaken to the fact that they are
virtual strangers to each other. Togetherness is the key word here, not
mere geographic togetherness (though physical presence is important), but
a sharing of the blessings and burdens, laughter and tears, hopes and disappointments,
of every day experience as a team and a unit. In the harried pace of daily
life -- in the mad rush to fulfill family responsibilities, husbands and
wives who do not take time to maintain and improve interpersonal contact
between themselves will soon discover a distance between them that seems
impossible to bridge. Such a relationship is not consistent with the Biblical
mandate to "cleave" to one another in a covenant of companionship.
Perhaps a wife who feels neglected or a husband who feels overlooked is
reading my words. You can say a hearty "Amen" to the previous
two paragraphs. This is the message you have been trying to get across to
your mate over the past few months. You are dying for his/her attention.
You feel unloved because your mate seems to have no time for you. Your marriage
lacks, not passion, but friendship. This is, in your mind, your greatest
desire in marriage. If you could just experience this kind of friendship
with your spouse, a real relationship, not a mere coexistence, then you
would have found "true love."
Well, as important as phileo is in a marriage, it is still not the
essence of Biblical love. It is not the ideal. It is not God's goal for
us. May I make a startling statement? Even in relationships devoid of romance
and friendship, a couple may still learn to love. In other words, a successful
marriage is not ultimately dependent on either eros or phileo.
Even if you and your mate have long since lost the intensity of romantic
passion, and even if you scarcely know one another any more, you can still
cultivate a loving relationship through the practice of agape. A marriage
without eros and phileo is not destined to fail, but a marriage
without agape is.
(3) Agape - Sacrificial Love: I'm convinced that most people
do not think about love Biblically. What we mean when we talk about "love"
and what God means when He talks about "love" are two different
things. In fact, the eros and phileo concepts are so deeply
ingrained into our intellectual grid of life that agape may be, upon first
glance, somewhat repugnant to us. After all, it sounds so "unromantic."
"It is so contrary to what I've always thought," someone says.
But agape is the word the Holy Spirit employs (and in fact, virtually coins)
to define "love" over two hundred fifty times in the New Testament.
What is this foreign kind of love known as agape? It is the kind of love
that God has for His elect. God does not love His people because He is attracted
to them, for there is nothing attractive in them. God determined to love
them in spite of their sin: "God commendeth his love toward us in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). God's love
is an act of the will, not of the emotions. It is something He decides to
do, not something He passively feels.
Further, he expressed his love by voluntarily giving His own Son to die
for those whom He had purposed to redeem. "For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son..." (Jno. 3:16). He covenanted,
unilaterally, to do everything necessary for their salvation. God the Son
committed himself to bear their iniquities and to suffer the wrath of God
in their stead. Voluntarily, He divested Himself of His divine prerogatives,
subjecting Himself to death, even the ignominious death of the cross. John
writes, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his
life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (I
Jno. 3:16). Love, the God-kind of love, is defined by the cross. There we
learn that agape involves a commitment to the welfare of another without
any consideration of worthiness in the loved one. Agape is a love that gives
to others, not that desires for oneself. It is self-sacrifice with an aim
to make the loved one great. In a word, agape is selflessness.
The key words in the definition are "commitment," "others,"
"giving," and "self-sacrifice." In simple terms, love
is a way of behaving toward another person, not a nebulous, mystical emotion.
In Scripture, love is a command. We are commanded to love God and love our
neighbor (Mt. 22:37). Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you,
that you love one another" (Jno. 13:34). Paul said, "Husbands,
love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for
it" (Eph. 5:25). Note he does not say, "Husbands, feel affectionate
and romantic toward your wives." No, feelings cannot be commanded,
but love can, for love is an act of the will, something that one makes up
his mind to do and then he does it. Paul's words, written in the imperative
mood, express a command that husbands are obliged to obey. Husbands are
under an obligation to sacrifice their own comforts and "needs"
for the benefit of their wives, in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ
sacrificed Himself for the church. Likewise, Jesus issues the imperative,
"Love your enemies" (Mt. 5:43). Does Jesus want us to drum up
pleasant emotions for those who have abused us? Obviously not. He commands
us to love them by choosing to show them favor and goodwill.
In specific terms, I Corinthians 13:4-7 profiles the characteristics
of Biblical love: Charity suffereth long,
and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed
up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily
provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in
the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things. Charity never faileth. Did you notice that
Paul does not describe what love is, but what love does? He does
not use adjectives to describe love. He does not say "Love is beautiful"
or "Love is wonderful." Instead, he uses verbs, words of action,
to describe love: "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous, self-promoting,
proud, rude, selfish, angry or suspicious...." If you really love someone
else, says Paul, you will treat them with patience, kindness, and unselfishness.
Do you realize what that means? That means that when one is impatient, unkind,
jealous, and rude to someone else, he does not love that other person. The
profile of love in I Corinthians 13 can be summarized in four categories:
(1) Love's Heart (vs. 4a,5c) - The person who loves another behaves
in kindness, patience, and tenderness. Every action is born from a sincere
desire for the happiness of the loved one. Love does not have a short fuse
("is not easily provoked") but is "slow to wrath," suffering
long with the faults and imperfections of the loved one. Love is the act
of showing patience, not irritability, when others falter, and kindness,
which is the proof of patience. Love doesn't nitpick at petty annoyances.
Do you love your mate? Let me rephrase the question. Do you respond to your
spouse's little quirks and annoyances in patience and kindness? If not,
start now, for God commands you to love.
(2) Love's Attitude (vs. 4b-5b) - Love displays itself by a commitment
to unselfish living. Notice the emphasis on "self" in verses four
and five: "Charity envieth not [i.e. is not self protecting]; charity
vaunteth not itself [i.e. is not self-promoting], is not puffed up [i.e.
is not self-inflated], doth not behave itself unseemly [i.e. is not self-glorifying],
seeketh not her own [i.e. is not self-seeking]." In a word, love is
not selfish. Analyze the next argument you have with your spouse. How many
times did each of you use the word "I"? Nine times out of ten,
selfishness is at the root of marital conflict. Pride, self-interest, and
egotism are the antitheses of love. Love is never rude or jealous. It esteems
the other more important than itself. Do you love your spouse? Let me rephrase
the question. Are you denying yourself for your partner's benefit? If not,
then start now, for God commands you to love.
(3) Love's Judgment (vs. 5d-6) - These two expressions, i.e. love
thinks no evil and love rejoices not in iniquity but in the truth, express
what might be termed "the judgment of charity." Love involves
giving another the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best possible motives,
not the worst. Love does not keep a record of past offences. It "thinketh
no evil." It's judgment therefore is not colored by resentment. It
does not take into account past wrongs. How many married partners have so
allowed past hurts to fill their hearts with resentment that they automatically
assume the worst motive when the other speaks. Instead of listening to what
is said, they become very artful at "reading between the lines."
They constantly ask each other, "What did you mean by that statement?"
If the other replies, "I meant nothing more than what I said,"
they react, "Sure, I know what you were really saying." They are
more inclined to believe the worst than to believe the truth. Conversation
filled with innuendo is a destructive habit for couples to develop. But
so is the attitude that insists on reading the worst motives into the things
that one's partner says and does. It is, in fact, very unloving. Do you
love your spouse? Let me rephrase the question. Do you automatically give
him/her the benefit of the doubt and assume the best of motives? If not,
then start now, for God commands you to love.
(4) Love's Tenacity (vs. 7-8a) - The final five statements suggest
that love does not cease. Like the rabbit on the battery commercial, it
keeps on going, and going, and going. In other words, it is impossible for
love to die. Do you believe that statement? Think about it carefully. I
didn't say that it's impossible for romance to die, or for happiness to
die, but for love to die. Neither did I say that it is impossible for a
person to cease to be committed to the other. But where commitment is present,
it is impossible to destroy that relationship. Heavy burdens cannot destroy
it, for love 'beareth all things.' Suspicion cannot destroy it, for love
'believeth all things.' Discouragement cannot destroy it, for love 'hopeth
all things.' Difficult trials cannot destroy it, for love 'endureth all
things.' In fact nothing can destroy it, for love 'never faileth,' that
is, it never ceases. "Many waters cannot quench love." When one
person is committed to self-sacrifice for the benefit of another, no burden
will be too heavy. Love is the willingness to bear all burdens, to trust
your partner implicitly, to expect the best, and to endure the worst. Love
is the commitment to keep on keeping on regardless of circumstances around
you, feelings within you, and consequences ahead of you. Charity never faileth.
Do you love your spouse? Let me rephrase the question. Are you committed
to unselfish living for the long haul? Is that commitment the sole factor
in the future of your relationship? If not, then start now. Take the initiative
to be kind. Bear insult and injury meekly. Go out of your way to make your
partner happy. Forget about receiving anything in return. Commit yourself
to a life of serving your mate. Away with rude remarks, biting sarcasms,
irritability, judgmental criticism, and petty egotism. Sacrifice your own
happiness for the happiness of your companion. Focus on being the kind of
person God requires you to be and don't attempt to make your mate hold up
their side of the bargain. After all, you promised to love, until death,
period. Regardless of your spouse's behavior, you vowed to love. This is
the kind of love that God commands.
On the authority of God's word, I guarantee that every couple who lives
like this will never meet a problem that will kill their relationship, because
charity never faileth. Furthermore, as a by-product of sacrificial love,
the warm feelings of romance and the quiet contentment of friendship will
resurface, sporadically at first, and more regularly as your years increase