Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…Love Does…Love Does Not…

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, &13 reads as follows: 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… And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

As an elementary school boy, I remember watching one of my cousins at a summer camp we attended each year with my grandparents. As we stood there in the yard of my grandparents’ lake house, she pulled the petals from a flower she had picked moments before. “He loves me…He loves me not…He loves me…He loves me not.” She was certain that flower would be able to reveal if his love for her existed…or not, whoever he was.

This scripture gives us a much better chance of deciphering if true love exists than that flower ever had the ability to do. I doubt that flower ever revealed anything, and I imagine the love it was supposed to affirm was extinguished before the end of the week. In contrast, the scripture above will endure forever, and will be capable of determining true love throughout eternity. Go ahead…put it to the test.

Love suffers long – Love doesn’t quit when the going gets tough. Real love will stand by even when it must do so for prolonged periods of time with little or no reciprocity. It is an act of selflessness and therefore isn’t in it for what it can get, but rather for what it can give.

Love is kind – Love is considerate of others. Love chooses kindness as its carrier. Love flows easily in words and acts of kindness, especially when they are unexpected or unwarranted. If true love exists…it will always be kind.

Love does not envy – Real love will allow another to be honored or exalted and be happy for them and not reserve joy because they may have been overlooked.

Love does not parade itself; it is not puffed up – Love is selfless, true love is interested in others being affirmed. It does not seek to make a name for itself. True love does not desire to be the center of attention but rather relishes the chance to place another above self.

Love does not behave rudely – When one acts out of genuine love they will be courteous and considerate of the needs of those around them.

Love does not seek its own – Again, love is outward focused. It causes one to think of others’ well-being long before its own.

Love is not easily provoked – Not only will love hold its tongue and temper when irritated, it is willing to accept provocation, returning only gentleness and kindness, even if wronged.

Love does not think evil – Love does not assume poor intentions on the part of another. Even when harmed, real love looks for an explanation of extenuating circumstances rather than jumping to a conclusion of evil intent.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth – Human nature is by default sinful. Love overrides the sinful desire to seek self-gratification at the cost of another. Love rejoices when truth prevails over the enemy’s lies designed to ensnare it.

Love bears all things – Love tries to stamp out the missteps of others rather than pointing them out. In so doing, it is forced to bear the wrongdoings of others in silence. While this can be difficult, it is one of the most powerful tools of conviction the Holy Spirit can use.

Love believes all things – Love makes every effort to give the benefit of the doubt when wronged. It chooses to believe when hurt, that the source of the hurt was not intentional.

Love hopes all things – Love always hopes that every offense between itself and another can be worked out. Love always tries to reconcile a broken relationship.

Love endures all things – Love understands that there are times when it will be ill-treated and it doesn’t look for a way to escape the relationship. True love knows that the only way for it to be proven is through remaining consistent.

Love never fails – God is eternal, God is love, ergo love is eternal. Love knows no bounds and has no end. Everything else in the world is someday going to pass away, some things much sooner than others, but true love, real love, has no expiration date.

The Greek language has three words for love. Eros – which is physical or erotic love. Phileo – which is fondness, affection, friendship love. Agape – the kind of love God has for us, and that we are to allow Him to show to others through us. All three are often present inside of the marital relationship. A marriage would not be much if it were only based on Eros. It would lack intimacy if it were only interested in displaying Phileo. If it does not contain Agape the other two forms of love will soon become selfish and inward thinking and inflict pain and damage onto the marriage. The only form of love that keeps the other two forms acting as they should is Agape love.

And now abide faith, hope and Agape, and the greatest of these, meaning the one that keeps everything else as it should be in healthy relationships whether they be between family, spouses or even us and God…is Agape.

In the weeks ahead we will look more closely at each of these characteristics of Agape love. I will attempt to define them better and give practical ways to see them instituted in marriage. I will also illustrate how they can increase the healthy display and acceptance of Eros and Phileo leading to a fuller marital love experience.

Questions to Answer:

1. Which of love’s characteristics listed above do you both think are being displayed well in your marriage?
2. Which do you think the two of you need to work to improve?
3. How can you hold yourselves and each other accountable to love as you should in ways that won’t breach these principles?

Actions to Take:

1. Ask God to help you love others in ways that are reflective of Him, beginning with your interactions with your spouse.
2. Tell your spouse of any areas God has made you aware of and commit to taking real steps toward remedying those attributes.

So now, holding the love you share with your spouse up to the standard of Agape love and learning to love your spouse in the ways God intends…Go be awesome!