If you ask a hundred people, “What is Love?” you’ll most likely wind up with as many definitions. In Webster’s Dictionary alone there’s more than an entire column devoted to defining “Love.” With all due respect to Miriam Webster, we’d like to offer the following for your consideration. It came from something Steve Goodier wrote on the subject of love.
“Diane Ackerman said,”Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is.’ Over the years, I’ve been learning what it is. When I first got married, I wanted to show my love to my new wife. I was drawn to romantic stories like one from the time of Oliver Cromwell in England where a young soldier had been tried in military court and sentenced to death. He was to be shot at the ‘ringing of the curfew bell.’
“His fiancée climbed up into the bell tower several hours before curfew time. She tied herself to bell’s huge clapper. At curfew time, when only muted sounds came out of the bell tower, Cromwell demanded to know why the bell wasn’t ringing.
“His soldiers went to investigate. They found the young woman cut and bleeding from being knocked back and forth against the great bell. They brought her down. The story goes that Cromwell was so impressed with her willingness to suffer on behalf of someone she loved that he dismissed the soldier saying, ‘Curfew shall not ring tonight.’
“That must be love, I thought! That was the kind of commitment I needed to make! I wanted to give my all —to die, if necessary, for her —to sacrifice myself on the altar of true love! I wanted her to know that I’d give it all up for her. But she never wanted me to die for her. Never! Clean the toilets, maybe, but never die.
A Different Kind of Love
“My commitment was to be shown in household chores! I was never called upon to tie myself to the bell. But I was still called upon to show my love —in little ways, mostly. I was called upon to sit by her hospital bed after surgery and encourage her. I was called upon to hold her after her father died and let her cry.
“Also, I was called upon to carve out alone time with her as often as possible. I was to make sure my plans included her as well as me. I was never needed to prove my undying love through a glorious act of self-sacrifice. It was something I was required to do in little ways, through one small act of kindness at a time. And that, I’ve learned, is LOVE.”
Love Requires More
As I read this I’ve thought of different times love has required that I do more than I wanted to do. The Bible tells me that TRUE love “is patient and kind. It isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs —doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.“ (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
As I go over those verses I think, “Thanks Lord… I need to be reminded of that!” Too often I forget that SAYING I love my spouse and actually living it out in a BIBLE-living way can be two different things. It’s important to recognize that this is not what God has called us to do. He says in James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.“
A Tool to Help
With that said, we’d like to share with you something we’ve used to help us in our marriage to live by God’s Biblical principles. A while back we went through the Bible together. We wrote down and then posted on our wall some of the main scriptures in the Bible that we ESPECIALLY want to live by.
We then came up with accountability questions after each one that we’ve agreed to ask each other on agreed upon times. Regularly, we sit down together, read the scripture and then after each question we take turns TRUTHFULLY giving an answer to each one. It’s a very humbling and healing time in our marriage, whenever we do this.
We’ve found these questions to be a great tool the Lord uses to help us keep our priorities straight. We call this our “Marriage Check-Up List.” Below we’ll give you a partial list of what we came up with based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. You can find a more complete list on our web site within the “Communication and Conflict” topic.
MARRIAGE CHECK-UP LIST
We pledge to love each other, with the Bible as our guide:
• LOVE IS PATIENT.
Are we patient with each other?
Do we bear with one another’s weaknesses?
• LOVE IS KIND.
Do we treat each other with loving kindness and grace?
Are we tenderhearted in our attitudes and our actions?
Are we being cynical and critical?
Do we use cutting humor in how we relate to one another?
• IT DOES NOT ENVY.
Has a spirit of envy been displayed by either one of us?
Are we exhibiting discontentment or resentment in what we have or don’t have?
• IT DOES NOT BOAST; IT IS NOT PROUD.
Are we being boastful, arrogant, or haughty?
Are we displaying an attitude of being more superior or smarter than the other?
• IT IS NOT RUDE.
Are we being rude, intolerant, or harsh with each other?
• IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING.
Are we living together in partnership — not allowing individual wants to take precedence over our relationship as a marital team?
Are we giving back or only taking?
• IT IS NOT EASILY ANGERED.
Are we being too irritable -or hypersensitive?
• IT KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.
Are we being too “historical” with each other?
Are we keeping score of that which we shouldn’t?
• LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.
Are we amusing ourselves with that which would not please God?
Are we taking delight in that which we shouldn’t?
When we converse are we speaking the truth in love?
• IT ALWAYS PROTECTS.
Are we protecting each other’s feelings?
Do we rudely embarrass or belittle each other?
Can it be in any way interpreted that we’re attacking each other’s character?
• ALWAYS TRUSTS.
Are we living lives of trustworthiness?
Are we putting our trust in Christ?
Do we believe the best of our spouse?
• ALWAYS HOPES.
Are there times when we’re being too quick to assume the worst in each other?
Do we have hope because of Christ?
• ALWAYS PERSEVERES.
Are we giving up too easily?
Are we persevering through problems and conflicts rather than caving into them?
Make it a point to go over this list with each other. Keep in mind that this is a time to help you to grow closer together. Hence, this is not a time to belittle and shame each other. When it’s needed, ask your spouse for forgiveness in the areas where you’ve hurt him or her.
And when your spouse asks for forgiveness, be gracious in giving it. This is what Christ has done for you when you’ve done wrong, and asked for it. You may even want to come up with your own scriptures and questions to ask each other.
Lastly, post them in a prominent place as a reminder of how to live with each other —to the glory of God. This is also a great witness for others too see. The point is to “be imitators of God”… “and live a live of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Steve and Cindy Wright
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Messages