In today’s society we throw around the word love haphazardly. “I love that dress!” “I love your hair!” I love puppies!!” As adults we use this four-letter word to describe fashion, puppies, our favorite movie and anything else we enjoy seeing or doing. Our children have picked up on this four-letter word and have adopted it’s flippant usage themselves. But love is so much more than puppies and rainbows. It’s a deep, intimate connection with someone.
There are few things in our life we love instantly. Our parents and our own children are probably two things I immediately think of when I hear the word love. But learning to love someone – essentially a stranger to us – for better, for worse is not as easy as it sounds. Oh sure, we love them – or at least what we know about them – before we marry them. A successful marriage requires unconditional love – a love that never fails and always forgives. But we have finite minds and fail constantly, so are we even capable of that kind of love? There is only one example of true unconditional love – Jesus Christ.
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Christ showed us what true unconditional love is when he took on our sins and died on that cross. He died for us while we were still sinners – not when we got it together or worked things out – while we were still sinners. We are sinful beings, who view love through a warped lens, rather than through the lens of Jesus Christ. But, thankfully that can change.
By allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and change the way we view our spouse, our children and any other person in the world, we can begin to see them through Christ’s eyes. But when we see people through Christ’s eyes, we open ourselves up to heartache and pain – so it’s difficult. We don’t like being vulnerable. We want to feel secure and safe. But I’m here to tell you that far greater things are possible when we allow the Holy Spirit take over our lives and open us up to love as Christ loves.
Learning to love someone is not as easy as a checklist you can go through each day. As a Type A personality, that is something I really struggle with. I like lists and seeing that I’ve accomplished something. But unconditional love is not that easy. It takes work – hard work. Learning to love is taking the good with the bad, even the really bad. Thankfully though, we don’t have to figure it out on our own. God’s Word gives us the formula for true, lasting love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things. 1 Cor 13:4-7 (ESV)
This is one of the most recited verses at weddings. But it really is all we need to know about loving someone. Love is not a feeling that we can turn on and off, love is a lasting relationship that grows and matures over time. Love is a choice – a daily choice.
I wish I could tell you 10 magic steps to loving someone, but the truth is…there are no magic steps. It is a day-by-day process of dying to yourself and learning to look at your spouse and others through the eyes of Jesus Christ. Because we are sinful beings, none of these things are “in our nature”, but with the Holy Spirit’s help they can be learned and grow in us so that they become our nature.
True love is only seen and known through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. If He is not at the center of your marriage – it may not fail, but it will be a struggle. Why? Because we are fallen, sinful human beings. We are incapable of true unconditional love.
But Jesus Christ is not.
The Holy Spirit is not.
Join me over the next 13 days as together we discover ways to improve our marriages.
Read the next post in this series: Day 2 ~ Communication is KEY