Chapter 4

The Actions Of Love

Love is both a motive and an action. Jesus Christ’s love for the church led to action: His sacrificial death on the cross. It will result in the wonderful fellowship of heaven (Revelation 19). Paul told husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25). He instructed older women to teach the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). In a marriage where the promise is fading, love translated into action can bring the brightness back into the promise. This brings us to 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter about love has no greater application than within the context of marriage. Verses 4–8 tell us what love does. As you read these verses, consider how they apply to your marriage. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. You might want to read this passage again. Where the word love appears, put in your name. Now ask yourself if this is how you treat your husband or your wife. This is what it means to love. People who experience the joy of marriage for twenty, forty, or fifty years without one “swallowing up” the other have learned how to work through the differences that lead to disillusionment and, perhaps, divorce. They are not merely “married to marriage” for the sake of marriage but because it is a fulfilling, rewarding, adventurous, loving relationship for both. They have stayed together in part because of a mutual willingness to talk, compromise, and work through their differences.

In a marriage where the promise is fading, love translated into action can bring the brightness back into the promise.

Let me illustrate. Suppose there’s a stalemate in a marriage. Say the woman is a neat freak and the man is kind of sloppy. The differences begin to drive them apart. She nags incessantly; he gets a severe case of “selective deafness.” Both withdraw. What would love do? It would take action. Facing the problem and overcoming fear, love would initiate the kind of communication that would lead to resolution, calling constantly on the help of our all–sufficient God. But how do we do this? One way is to make a determined effort to look at the issue through the other’s eyes. See it from that person’s perspective. In this case, he needs to remember her home life and understand how insecure she feels when things are out of place. She needs to admit that it’s not a major crime nor a sin to leave a shirt hanging on the back of a chair. Then they both need to change their behavior. True, it will be hard. In deeper marital issues, such as rage or emotional abuse, it will seem impossible. But the principles of love are backed by a God who is love (1 John 4:7–8) and by a Savior who fills us with His power.

Bible–centered counseling may be necessary. That’s okay. The point is that love takes action and trusts God to give the promise of marriage to couples who are willing to trust Him.