Are you living out GOD’S LOVE with one another in your marriage? And are you sure it’s truly God’s love you’re conveying, and not some semblance of it?
When we were married in 1972 neither one of us were Christ followers. Sure, we went to church on Christmas and Easter. But that was just about all we did together spiritually. We had no idea of what God’s love even entailed.
And truthfully, even after we committed our lives to Christ in 1974 it was a long time before we understood the difference between God’s love and worldly love. One is self-serving and the other is God-serving, with an emphasis on serving others. In marriage, you are to serve each other, just as Christ served the church and gave Himself up for her.
Living God’s Love
The bottom line in the way we live out God’s love with one another is whether or not our love points others to Christ—to want to know Him better. We’re told in the Bible: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). In other words, the way, in which we show love to each other, points right back to Christ. Through our actions are we pointing others and one another to Christ, or are we pointing to the enemy of our faith?
But it isn’t easy, is it, to live with each other in marriage in such a way that God’s love always gets through? If your answer is yes… it isn’t easy, then we agree. We’re human too and are attacked by life in many ways. It’s difficult sometimes to continually love and give grace. For all of us, this is reality:
“Real spouses get sick. They get cranky. They have bad days. If this resets how much we cherish and value them, we will lose our hearts for them. You didn’t marry a goddess with supernatural powers over human limitations. And you didn’t marry a man with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, and the kindness of Christ. You married a man or woman whose body can break down, who is affected by stress, who cries when she is hurt, who complains when he gets sick, and who stumbles in many ways.
“Accept his or her humanity. Remind yourself: this is how my spouse stumbles. But here’s the delightful irony: if you truly want a better spouse, learn to cherish the imperfect spouse you already have and they’re likely to become that better spouse.” (Gary Thomas)
The Mystery of Marriage
Here’s another way of looking at the mystery of a marriage relationship—to love one another with God’s love, rather than worldly love:
“One of the most important lessons God wants us to learn in our life is how to love like Jesus. God uses marriage and our relationships for that purpose. …Loving like Jesus means loving when it’s not easy or convenient. Convenience never produces character. When we express love, patience, and commitment to our spouse in the midst of conflict, we strengthen our character, our marriage, and our relationship with God.” (Jen Roland)
Keep in mind:
“Patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” (Romans 5:4 TLB)
So, here’s a question and a few thoughts for you to prayerfully consider:
“How would the Lord evaluate your marriage? We can, like the Ephesians, mislead others about what is going on under the surface. But this divine stethoscope reads what others can’t see. How is your heart? Is it beating with the strength of a first love or have you left that strength behind?
“The measure of a marriage isn’t the size of your house or the quality of your lifestyle but the hunger of your heart. Love is a set of actions and attitudes that exalts the needs of one another. It involves an emotional climate of loving and nurturing, a servant attitude of partnering and ministering, a spiritual bond of trusting the living God.” (Gary Inrig)
Going Further with God’s Love
To take all of this a step further, the following is a short list of scriptures to help us better show one another the type of love God would have us. They come from the Bible paraphrase, THE MESSAGE. But we recommend that you also read each scripture on this list in another version of the Bible. We want to challenge you with both.
You can use the following versions of the Bible: ESV, NIV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, etc. (Our personal favorite is the ESV. That is because it is said to be the closest to the original writings to date. But the others are good too.)
This can be a good scriptural journey that you and your spouse can take on together with “one another.” Talk together about what you see in these verses. If your spouse won’t take this journey with you, then take it hand-in-hand with God alone. Keep in mind that these are the principles for living and loving; now apply them to living and loving within your marriage:
Living God’s Love With One Another in Marriage:
- “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, love one another.“ (John 13:34 MSG)
- “Reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!“ (Romans 15:7 MSG)
- “I’ll put this as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.“ (1 Corinthians 1:10 MSG)
- “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.“ (Galatians 5:13 MSG)
- “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.“ (Ephesians 4:32 MSG)
- “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.“ (Ephesians 5:21 MSG)
- “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.“ (Colossians 3:9 MSG)
- “Let the Word of Christ —the Message —have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using common sense. And sing; sing your hearts out to God!“(Colossians 3:16 MSG)
- “Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters. Just love one another!” (1 Thessalonians 4:9 MSG)
- “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep doing it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG)
- “Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it.” (1 Peter 1:22 MSG)
- “No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us —perfect love!“ (1 John 4:12 MSG)
Applying These “One Another”
In applying these biblical “one another’s” to loving each other as husband and wife, we encourage you to:
“Move beyond the small story to the greater story. Recognize that your marriage is about much more than just the small story of you and your spouse sharing your lives together. It’s about a much larger story of the great work God wants to do through both of you in your marriage. Your marriage is a covenantal relationship that can show everyone who knows you what God’s love looks like in action.” (Whitney Hopler)
After looking at many of the “one another’s of the Bible, we’re again reminded that we’re told: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35) As we read this scripture, the following principle comes alive:
“The home is the primary place where God invited the world to peer through the windows and take a look at love. Here the world will witness, first hand, whether or not relationships work. In other words, a world that does not know God has the opportunity to see whether or not God’s love is real and life changing. Our home life will be a magnet that God will use to attract others to Himself. ‘All men will know.‘” (Jeff Hendley)
The question for us to seriously consider is:
“Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.” (Gary Thomas)
To help you further on this journey, here’s a link to a Bible study put together by Pastor Andy Stanley that we recommend you do:
We pray this challenges us ALL to live out God’s love with one another. We are not islands onto ourselves. God created us for a purpose. And that purpose is to love and serve Him, and love and serve one another.
We also pray for you to live out your convictions from Hosea 14:9 NLT:
“Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those who are discerning listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.“
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below to do so: