One of the best things I have attended thus far at Baylor is Vertical Ministries. The series they are currently doing is called “Marriage Material.” Essentially, it’s about how we can save our marriage years before it begins. It has been such a powerful series and something that I believe is very important for people my age to understand. Furthermore, I think people who are already married could use a refresher on what the Bible says love is and how we are to practice love with our spouse, our friends, our roommates, and everyone we meet. It’s what we’re called to do as Christians.
Below, I have typed up all the notes I have taken from the series and expanded on a few of them. I pray that the Lord will use this to improve all the relationships we have.
Can we say that we know what love is? Our world is wildly confused about what love is, but God never intended us to be confused about it.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. // 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 // This is the love passage, often used at wedding ceremonies. In this passage, God spells out what love is. Paul didn’t write this passage with marriage in mind, but he wrote it in order to address some divisions in the church at Corinth.
Nothing will impact our relationships as much as our understanding and vision of love.
1 Cor. 13:1-3 // If we don’t have love, we are nothing. Paul was addressing that they were arguing over spiritual gifts, and Paul is basically saying, “Who cares what spiritual gifts you have if you don’t have love?”
1 Cor. 13:4-7 // God’s definition of love never changes. That’s why we can apply these verses to marriage. Practice these principles with your friends and roommates now to prepare for your future permanent roommate (your spouse).
1 Cor. 13:8-13 // Love is here to stay. Love will define our experience in eternity.
Infatuation and romantic feelings can sometimes be disguised as love, but they are not love. Lust is not love. It’s essential that we are able to distinguish between these things.
Agape is the Greek word used in this passage that is translated as love. It is self-sacrificing love where you meet the needs of someone else regardless of the cost to you. Marriage is like a fire. A good fire takes work, and it is sustained by agape love.
Love is patient. // This is the opposite of being short-tempered. You will bring some less-than-desirable traits with you into your marriage, and you won’t be able to hide them from your spouse. Our spouse should love us in spite of our imperfections, so don’t be surprised when your spouse asks you to do the same. Love is a daily choice to respond unnaturally to someone’s imperfections.
Love is kind. // This means you see someone’s needs and take action to meet those needs, without any strings attached and no hidden agenda. Kindness requires us to remove ourselves from the center of the universe. Manipulation masked as kindness is not love.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. // Philippians 2:3-4
Love does not envy. // Envy is wanting something that someone else has. The cause of envy is comparison, so don’t compare your spouse to someone else’s.
Comparison is cancerous to marriage. You’ll compare the negatives of your spouse to the positives of someone else, and your spouse will lose every time. You’ll become discontented. Discontentment breeds resentment. Resentment breeds entitlement, and you’ll begin to believe that you are entitled to be happy. That’s how marriages fail.
Love is making a consistent choice to appreciate and treasure what you have. Discipline yourself to be grateful for where God has you right now. This can mean that you should be grateful for who God has you married to; or if you’re single, be content in your singleness, and don’t allow your thoughts to be consumed with your desire to be married.
Love does not boast and is not arrogant. // People brag because they want to feel important and elevate themselves. Arrogance is when you already believe you have arrived at the top. This happens when you have too high of a view of yourself. It is miserable to be married to someone who is always right and never wrong. Do you believe that your way is always the best way? Do you have a hard time taking other people’s advice? Christ must increase and we must decrease.
Love is not rude. // Being rude means behaving shamefully. Two people become one in a marriage, and any compromising decisions you make will directly impact your spouse. Love is making the choice to grow up and to live a life of consistent character and integrity.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and ewe ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. // 1 John 3:16
Don’t forget that if God were to deal with all the evil in the world, He would have to deal with us too. We should demonstrate grace even when our spouse, friends, or strangers do something that hurts us.
Love is not self-seeking. // We don’t offer God anything. Isaiah 53 says that it was God’s will to crush Jesus in order to save us. His eternity would’ve been fine without us, but our eternity would be unthinkably horrible without Him. Jesus wasn’t self-seeking, so we shouldn’t be either.
Love is a daily choice to put someone else’s needs above our own. We need to be selfless, not selfish. This exposes our tendency to paint up lust as love. Sex within marriage should be selfless too because it is meeting someone else’s needs and desires.
Don’t forget that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. We don’t have to rely on our own strength to have self-control, but we will receive it from the Holy Spirit if we ask.
Love is not irritable. // Love is not overly sensitive or easily angered. Jesus kept silent even when He was falsely accused because Jesus chose to respond to God rather than be affected by the actions of others.
Love is not resentful. // It does not keep a record of wrongs.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. // Colossians 2:13-14
We have a perpetually clean slate before God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. In your marriage, you will do things that hurt and annoy your spouse, and they will too. Don’t make blanket generalizations like “always” or “never.” If you do, you will get historical and bring in other things from the past. This is called keeping a record of wrongs! Love is choosing to treat every offense as the very first offense.
Love doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. // Love is wanting the best for someone. The best for someone is to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and this is what you should strive to help them do!
Love is more than a feeling, it is a commitment.
Love endures all things. // Love never loses faith or grows skeptical about its power to last.
God can always win if He is in the equation!
Hold your position no matter the cost. Love always finds a way to move past differences, and it doesn’t give up even when you think it would be easier or you would be happier if you two went your separate ways.