Before I begin this last post in my marriage series, I want to be sure to reiterate that the love in I Corinthians 13 is agápē, meaning love, affection, or benevolence. I John 4:8 says that God is love. So, an agape love is exhibiting the very character of God in how He shows affection and grace to His people.
Knowing this, the standard is high. It is something we ask the Spirit of God to produce in our lives. But, this side of Heaven, we are works in progress and we will not always fulfill it. Due to sin, there will be many who desire for their marriages to flourish and endure, but the other person fails to keep their commitment. This is a reality in this fallen world. God’s love covers a multitude of sins and freedom is found in Him.
My goal is to encourage those who are married to seek to emulate the love of God. It will transform the relationship if both people seek to grow in Christ. If it is only you who is seeking to love, you will still be pleasing God and strengthened and transformed in the process. Life is hard. We can’t control others outside of ourselves. But we can honor the truth of Scripture and make every effort to grow in love in our marriages.
The 4 “Alls”
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I Corinthians 13:7 ESV
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13:7 NLT
Love bears all things. It never gives up. steg’-o; from G4721; to roof over, i.e. (figuratively) to cover with silence (endure patiently):—(for-)bear, suffer.
Love believes all things. It never loses faith. pist-yoo’-o; from G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ):—believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.
Love hopes all things. It is always hopeful. el-pid’-zo; from G1680; to expect or confide:—(have, thing) hope(-d) (for), trust.
Love endures all things. It withstands through every circumstance. hoop-om-en’-o; from G5259 and G3306; to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:—abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.
God loves in a perfect way. He never gives up on us. According to 1 John 1:9, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our confessed sins. He promises to never leave nor forsake us in Hebrews 13:5. God is faithful and always keeps His promises. This is why our hope is assured, because He cannot lie.
So, how do we imitate His love in this way in our marriages? Is it possible?
Yes, it’s possible. God gives us everything we need for life and godliness. The Spirit works as we yield to Him and produces the fruits of love in our lives. Will we do it perfectly? No. Should we still try? Absolutely.
(Going back to a previous lesson on love being humble, if we are living in humility, we will say we are sorry when we fail and strive to improve.)
Applying the 4 ‘Alls’ to Marriage
Love bears all.
This does not mean that we ignore sin or allow people to abuse us. God’s love and design is good. However, thankfully, God does bear with us in our imperfection. He loves us enough to protect us from sin and to correct us in error. And even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Our culture quits on people too easily. If we want to emulate Christ, we will be long suffering. We are taught to bear with one another and make room for one another’s faults. Forgiving one another and covering the small irritations of life with love prepares us to love one another in big ways when we desperately need it.
We are quick to accept grace when it is given to us, but we aren’t always so quick to hand it out. How often are we irritable at the smallest of things? How often do we hold on to petty issues until they fester into negative perceptions about those we are to love? In marriage, this means we have to be transparent and not hide our struggles from one another. We need to help one another grow in grace and love. If something bothers us, we need to be honest and talk it through in a gracious manner. And we bear with one another. We hold each other up. And we embrace the parts of them that are different than the parts of us. We see these differences as a part of how God made them and not a source of annoyance.
Love Believes All.
I love the passage in Proverbs 31 that says, “her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value”. Ephesians 5:33 speaks to both: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”. I have been blessed with a man that believes the best about me. He doesn’t micromanage how I spend money, because he believes I am trustworthy and would never put our family in jeopardy by being spontaneously impulsive. He believes that I am smart. There is a mutual trust between us. It is easy for me to respect a man like him.
One of the times I hurt my husband the most in early marriage was when I accused him of something before asking about it. Part of my knowledge about his past lurked in my mind, planting a seed of doubt even though I knew what was true about him. The question could have simply been asked while believing the best of what I knew about him – that he had walked out in front of me for years. But instead, fear gripped me and accusations flew. He was hurt by my quick mistrust. I had to begin to “believe all” in love.
Marriage requires a commitment to trust our spouse. To believe the best about their motivations and not stew on the worst of our imaginations. We should have faith in them and speak well of them towards others. We don’t throw their dirty laundry out into the public. If help is needed, there is a way to seek that while protecting your relationship.
Love hopes in all circumstances.
Do you dream with your spouse? Do you talk and hope for your future? Do you commit to helping one another mature in faith? Do you commit to future days believing that you will see those days together? The Bible says that where we lack vision, we perish. Just as a believer withstands through trials for the joy that is set before them, so in marriage, we need to have a vision for our family’s future. Whether that is a family of two or ten, a family needs to have a vision for where they want to end up. They need to hope. Hope will not put us to shame (Romans 5:5).
One of my favorite memories involved an impromptu weekend trip where my husband and I dreamed about foster care and the education of our children. We talked and prayed, came home and sold our house, and began a new adventure. In unity. We can accomplish much as the team God designed us to be!
Love endures all.
Are we committed from the beginning to remain faithful to one another? Do we have conditions which have to be met to be fully engaged in our marriage? I think this is a big difference between the cultural idea of marital relationships and a biblical one. Many choose to withhold the formal commitment of civil and spiritual marriage until they feel like they can live together well. They want to find out if they are compatible before diving in. Mostly they want an escape plan with the least amount of pain as possible. While dating reveals many of these things, marriage is a huge leap of faith. No one can know the full heart of another. There will be times you don’t “feel” in love as life happens, causing the fairytale to fade. But genuine love endures. It doesn’t quit over feelings. It endures through all the hardships of life…together.
My husband and I have faced burying a child together. We have faced many other physical, financial, and spiritual trials, but this tragedy made us dig in. It taught us to truly bear one another’s burdens and to stay when the sadness hung over us. Satan tried to use that to build a wall between us. We were two people grieving in unique ways, making it hard to meet the needs of the other in our anguish. But because of our commitment to one another before God, we endured until we could find joy in one another again. Until we could find joy in many things we once had again. By God’s grace, we were held together and stronger than ever.
Applying the 4 ‘Alls’ of Agape Love
In order to hope in all, we can’t entertain the idea of divorce. Don’t throw it around as a threat when angry. Create a boundary and don’t cross it. Our words speak what is in our hearts and lead to actions.
Make a date to dream and hope together. Plan what you want to impart to your children. How do you want your relationship and family to look in a year, 5, or 10? What is a way to invest in your marriage for the future? (It could look like alone time, sweet notes left in a car, reading a book and discussing it, a Bible study at church together, serving in community, or going to counseling.)
Be slow to anger and quick to listen. Have a mindset of believing the best before reacting for the worst.
Create a safe zone for conversation where you can communicate hard things without fear of sharing. This is not a session for picking on each other’s faults but a sincere, honest conversation about the things you each are struggling with in marriage. It can then begin talks about solutions and lead to growth. Hiding from one another does no one any good. We all desire to be seen and known. Marriage should be the most intimate, safe place for us to flourish as people.
Simply hug your spouse and say I love you and am committed to you for the long haul. 🙂
If this was helpful, you may enjoy reading the other four posts in the marriage series under devotions. And as always, if you think it would help someone else, please consider sharing it! Thank you. Always cheering you on in your walk with Christ. – Terri