Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.

For the past six episodes we have been exploring 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage. Other than the first principle I shared with you, Compatibility, I must admit, there has been no prioritization given to the principles that followed. I simply allowed the Holy Spirit to guide where in His inspired word and which of His Principles He would have me share next. However, as a part of the process, As He always is, God was doing more than I realized. As I researched and wrote in preparation for each episode in the series, the realization was always evident that there was too much information to convey comprehensively in a 15-minute podcast. That has always been one of the challenges of the Monday Marriage Message, to deliver an important idea rich with scriptural background in just 15 minutes. As I undertook the project of this particular series, that challenge remained. Flow and continuity required I not spend multiple editions exploring a singlular Biblical Principle, so as I have become accustom to doing, I condensed the material to the best of my ability to fit the format.

As I made my way through 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage, it was all too clear that there was too much left on the cutting room floor to simply sweep up and toss out. As that recognition grew, the reality emerged that more had to be done with the material I included in the podcast as well as what necessarily had been held back. What emerged has become a second marriage building conference that I will be presenting for the first time at the end of the week. That new project required a thoughtful look at the order of these 7 Biblical Principles and a reshuffling of them that will present more effectively in a seminar format. I say all of that to say that today although we will be exploring our 7th Biblical Principle in this series, that is not its final place in the seminar lineup, there it has become Principle # 4.

This 7th or 4th Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage, depending on where it is being offered, is Love. I can see good reason for some of you to think I should have numbered it first because it is reasonable to ask, “Without love is a highly successful marriage even possible”? I can’t argue with that logic. I can also understand why someone would place it as the final of these 7 Biblical Principles, because love is the correct final word on everything. Paul wrote that now abides faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) Love is the catalyst of all things good, right and true…and it is also the culmination of those same things. I suppose it could also be argued that Love belongs in the middle of the list because love must be in the midst of anything for that thing to have value. While none of those were my rationale for placing it in the final position here in the podcast, or in the fourth position in the upcoming marriage conference, they are all valid points none-the-less.

More importantly however, is the question, “Why does love make the cut as one of the 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage”? As we have learned from God’s word, the primary purpose of marriage according to its originator is to be reflective of the Triune God that created it. It is recorded in Genesis 1:26-27 that God said Let Us (The Father, The Son, and The Spirit) make man in our image and likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. It is also recorded in 1 John 4:8 that the Apostle John wrote He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. If God is love, and He is…and the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect God…and it most certainly is, then one of the necessary components of a marriage highly successful at reflecting God…is love.

Additionally, if we are going to move forward in this discussion in a meaningful way we must initially define love. Let me first say that the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you hold an infant child, embrace your spouse, or even scratch your version of the “Best dog ever”, behind the ear is not love! Love is not an emotion. The warm and fuzzies are the result of fondness. Fondness is an emotion. Fondness is measurable in a sense in that it has graduations or levels. Hopefully you feel more fondness when you embrace your spouse than you do when you scratch behind the dogs ear…maybe not. Love is actionable…always. It could be argued that fondness is the emotion you experience when you embrace your spouse, hold the baby or pet the dog. However, in the most basic sense, the embrace, the cuddle, the pat…those are love. More importantly though, the relationship, not the emotion must be the catalyst for genuine love. Let me explain.

In that same chapter in 1 John we read in verse 21, And this commandment we have from Him (Jesus) that he who loves God must love his brother also. God does not command us how to feel, or what emotions to have, and yet He commands us to love one another. In John’s gospel he recorded the moment Jesus said; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”. (John 13:34-35) Since God does not command our emotions, but rather does command action, if we are commanded to love, love must be actionable. Who is it that we are we commanded to take loving action toward? One another. Why? Because we are His disciples. We are to act in love toward one another as a result of the relationship. But which relationship? The Teacher/Master to disciple one. We love others because Jesus asks us to. Because we are in relationship with Him, and He wishes that we show His love to others, we do so at His request. This is what allows us to love even when hurt, disappointed, frustrated or even angry with those with whom we are called to love. This ability only increases in importance when the one we are interacting with is our spouse.

Therefore, defining love as an actionable characteristic, and understanding that God is love and therefore our marriages, designed to reflect Him, must reflect His love…what are those actions we must exemplify and which must we avoid? For that answer we can refer to what the Apostle Paul was inspired by God to write in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Paul writes here that we can do a lot of things in admirable ways but without love they are worse than useless. He begins with our words. My wife and I are both hearing impaired. There are times when we jokingly say that if people heard us try to communicate when we are unable to look at one another and read lips to assist our failing hearing, they would probably wonder why we stay so angry with each other…we yell at one another all the time. We don’t yell because we are angry with each other…at least not usually, we do it because speech that cannot be heard is useless. However, Paul writes, words that are spoken without love are worse than useless, the hearer also finds them incredibly irritating. Paul goes on to say that even if we have great and wonderful revelations from God, even if He has given us understanding of some of the most problematic of life’s questions, if we cannot express them in love, those answers are of no use to anyone…not even us! Suppose we have the proverbial faith that can move mountains…without love, we won’t use it correctly. In the final of his hypotheticals Paul says that if we sell everything we have to feed the poor, but we do it so we will gain recognition more than we do it because someone is hungry, or even if we are willing to become a martyr, if our motivation is anything short of love…those actions will be valueless.

Paul then switched from analogous writing and began penning words of a more descriptive nature. In this next segment, he begins to define what specific actions are loving and which are not. He says that loving action will patiently continue on even if there is seemingly no return on investment. Why? Because genuine love’s motivation is never self-serving. Loving action is kind, and acts of kindness are by definition always to benefit another. Next Paul mentions a few unloving actions. He tells us love doesn’t worry about what is fair, only what is right. He mentions that love doesn’t try to get credit for its righteous actions and never thinks it is better than another because of its ability to act as it does. Paul says that genuine love will never fail to be courteous and considerate of others. Love is not self-serving or inward thinking. Love always considers others before thinking of self. Love is not provoked but instead will empathetically endure insults and unloving words and actions, and will not allow anything to dissuade it. Love does not think that every unkind action or word received from another is indicative of a poor motive but instead offers the benefit of the doubt, and tries to understand what that person may be going through. Paul states that as human beings we all have a propensity for the ability to take enjoyment from that which is wrong, but genuine love only wants what is best, righteous and uplifting.

Paul concludes by offering a litmus test to determine genuine love from a cheap counterfeit. He says that love will always do these five things.

  • Love bears all things. This means that love will be patient in all things and will even try to conceal the faults of others. The original text actually means that love covers all things, meaning love rubs out another’s mistake rather than rubbing it in.
  • Love believes all things. This doesn’t mean that love is gullible, but it does mean that love gives the benefit of the doubt. Love does not look for a poor motive behind every hurtful misstep of another but rather looks to see what difficulty or misunderstanding could cause an otherwise good willed person to lash out.
  • Love hopes all things. Love always wants to see things work out the best for everyone involved. Even in genuine disagreements, love necessitates that when the dust settles…everyone survives.
  • Love endures all things. Love does not withdraw itself or morph into unloving action no matter what it receives from another. Love understands that it’s standard is always righteousness. Love is true to itself and does not change because it is on the receiving end of unrighteousness.
  • Love never fails. The four previous characteristics of love elude to this one. In each of them Paul wrote “all things” meaning; nothing gets love off its game. In the end result love will always emerge acting in a loving way. God is love, God is unchanging…Therefore, love also is unwavering. Love always comes up looking like love.

You know what else genuine love always does? Love always wins.

So now, using the winning strategy of love in your marriage…Go be Awesome!