In the previous two articles in this column we considered the divine structure of marriage and the home from the perspective of divine wisdom and divine holiness. This article goes on to show how marriage can relate to divine love.
I. The Nature of Love
“God is love,” wrote the Apostle John (1 John 4:8). We conclude from this fact that God is the essence of genuine love. All that He is and all that He does originates from the quality or attribute of love.
When God created Eve to be a suitable mate for Adam, He did so because He loved Adam. His love was to be perpetuated in Adam’s love for Eve. God also designed that the human family be propagated through the act of intimate married love and devotion.
Divine love can best be defined as God seeking the highest good for the greatest benefit of undeserving mankind now and forever. When Christ died sacrificially on the cross of Calvary, that expressed God’s love at its highest. “Greater love hath no man than this,” said Jesus, “that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Yet, Jesus not only laid down His life for his friends, but also for His enemies.
True love and sacrifice are inseparable. To love is to give and to keep on giving. It knows no limits, for it will give until life itself is gone. Every mother who bears a child knows, in a measure, what such sacrifice means. Every husband should be humbled to share it and give sacrificially of himself.
All human love has its origin in God. The affection that a Christian husband and wife have for each other comes from God. The love that parents share with their children comes from God. Genuine love shared with other people also comes from God.
The nature of divine love always seeks the very best for its object. It is kind, considerate, benevolent, forgiving, understanding, trustful, corrective, and helpful. It does not base its love on the worthiness of its object. It acts in a way to help the other to want to be worthy of love.
II. The Failure of Human Love
Human love falls short of divine love. The disobedience of Adam and Eve, our first parents, as well as our own disobedience, forfeits genuine love. Sin is disobedience to the law of God. It is selfishness. It seeks its own pleasure at the expense of others. Sin in the heart breaks up marriages and wrecks relationships. When a husband cheats his wife or the wife walks out on her husband, it is sin. It is sin when parents desert or abandon their children. In sinning, we allow Satan to control our lives and actions. He injects the poison of suspicion, mistrust, selfishness, and hate. He deceives us by making us believe we are not accountable for our actions. He distorts the meaning of true love and makes it a false love.
III. Love Regained
Jesus fully personifies love. He came to a world of people who had lost the meaning of true love. He showed us that divine love is stronger than sin, hate, or lust. Jesus came to restore sinful man and woman to a holy God. He also restored the sacredness of marriage. He made it possible for a man to love his wife as himself and for a wife to reverence or respect her husband (see Ephesians 5:33).
Do you want to have a happy, fulfilling marriage? Invite Jesus into your heart and home. Ask Him to fill your heart with His love. Pray for cleansing from the sins of selfishness, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Pray for what it takes to forgive your partner’s faults and failures. Pray for the ability to speak kindly, honestly, and encouragingly.
IV Love Expressed
Sacrifice is love expressed to its highest degree. Jesus is our supreme example. Do you want your marriage to succeed? Then sacrifice yourself. Do you want your home to be strong? Give of yourself, all of yourself. Give and keep on giving. When Jesus went to Calvary, He gave everything, even His own blood. Why? Because He loves you. He kept nothing for Himself. Neither can you if you want your marriage and home to succeed and reach its highest potential.
Love pays attention to details. Husbands, are you providing adequate shelter, nourishing food, and sufficient clothing for your family? Are you considerate of physical weakness and emotional stress? Are you giving time and encouragement and teaching to your children? Wives, are you encouraging your children? Do you understand and appreciate your husband’s labors? Are you thanking and encouraging him in his leadership role? This goes a long way in making your marriage what God intended it to be.
It is right and normal for a young man and woman to dream and plan for a Utopia of love and intimacy in marriage. However, love is more than dreams. The reality of true love involves pain, sickness, work, financial responsibility, and even human failure. The love of Christ for us does not rise and fall with our circumstances. The same is true in a Christian marriage. Neither will Godlike love diminish with time or circumstances. It is a commitment till “death do us part.”
We began with the great affirmation that God is love. We conclude with the fact that when a husband and a wife open their hearts to the love of God and invite Jesus in, they will discover a richness and fulness of joy and blessing they never knew before. I have found it to be true. You can too!
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:24, 25, 28).
-by J. Luke Martin