“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 13:4-8a
To those who have had enough. To each one of you that have come to the end of your rapidly fraying rope. To everyone that is ready to throw in the towel and give up. To the one who can’t seem to find a reason to keep fighting. To the angry, the hurt, the bitter, the resentful, the wounded…
This is for you.
An all too commonly believed lie in our culture today is that love is a game of give and take, a 50/50 agreement or contract that you sign up for. This “contract of love” is one that can be or perhaps should be broken when one party is not meeting their end of the deal. Even the words in traditional wedding vows have changed from “as long as we both shall live” to “as long as we both shall love.” This is NOT Biblical love. This is NOT the love that God calls us to. This certainly is NOT the love that Christ lavishes on us. When you stood at the altar that day and declared your vow to love your spouse before God and men, you entered into a covenant relationship, a relationship that binds you as one to your spouse. A covenant is not easily broken, but it is perhaps that we have wandered so far from God’s definition of love that even the idea of loving your spouse when it’s hard is unfathomable to you.
Love is not a feeling or an emotion. It is an action and a choice. Therefore, it is possible to love your spouse even when you don’t feel like it. Each description of love in the above verses is evidence of this truth. I’m not sure which part stands out to you the most, but for me, it’s the short phrase “it keeps no record of wrongs.” Let’s just pause there for a moment. How would your marriage be different if you obeyed just this single part of the definition of love? If you refused to remember and record and rehash every instance that your spouse wronged you, disappointed you, or let you down…if you simply refused to go there, how different would your marriage be? How would your obedience in this change the way that your spouse responds to you?
One final portion I want to focus on is this: Love “always perseveres.” The word “persevere” means to remain under. It is in the remaining under the pressure that we are strengthened. Whenever I hear the word persevere, I think back to my days of running. In my daily training routine, there was always a moment that I wanted to quit. Always. Without fail, I would play with the thought in my head that kept telling me to stop, to slow down, to just take a break. Every time I silenced those thoughts and kept running, I strengthened myself a little bit more for the next run and enabled myself to eventually run the race I was training for in its entirety. Perseverance is hard. That’s a given. However, the reward, the prize, the divine payoff awaits only those who persevere.
In order to love your spouse when it’s hard, you must embrace these truths. The longer you resign to the thinking that “since they don’t deserve it, I’m not going to give it”, the more bitter you will become and the more displeasing your marriage will be. Love is a choice, an act of your will. And love is obedience.
I want to invite you to read through these 4 short verses every day for the next week. Every day, open your Bible, turn to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, and read it. Every day for a week. Focus on these verses. Meditate on them. Memorize them. Choose to remove your focus off of the problems in your marriage to the face of love itself: Jesus Christ. In so doing, God Himself will enable you to love your spouse, even when it’s hard.