by Julie Bruce
1 John 4:8 is one of the simplest verses in the Bible. It simply says, “God is love.” It make sense, then, that if we want to understand love, that we come to the source of love…God. It’s His very nature. It’s who He is. In fact, God revealed himself to Moses as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellions and sin.” (Exodus 24:6-7).
What if my spouse’s family or friends approached him and asked, “How do you know Julie loves you?” What if his response to them was, “Because Julie is compassionate to me. She is gracious when I fail her. She is slow to anger. Her love and faithfulness to me abounds and overflows. She is forgiving when I do her wrong.” Would they then doubt my love for him? Would he doubt my love for him? What would your marriage (and mine) be like if this is how we loved our spouses?
Yes, God is the source of love…and the example of how we should love our spouses. It is the foundation of God’s character and his law. In fact, since God IS love and the source of love it would not be possible for us to love our spouses or anyone else had not first loved us. He created love and gave it to us so that we would not be alone. When God created the first male, Adam, he placed him in the Garden of Eden and brought all the animals God had created to Adam and whatever Adam called them, that was their name. But the Bible tells us in Genesis that after Adam and named every single animal, “there was not found a suitable helper for Adam.” Adam recognized that every animal had a mate. God had created them all male and female. But for Adam, there was no mate. God’s response was, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So there, in the Garden of Eden, the first surgery was performed and God placed Adam into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh and from that single rib, God created Eve…a mate for Adam. My dad was a pastor and when he would preach about God creating Eve he gave his own interpretation of Adam’s response to seeing Eve for the first time. Dad would shout from the pulpit, “Whoopee God! That’s what I wanted!” If you think back to the first moment you saw your spouse, you may have had your own “Whoopee!” moment. If you have (to quote the song title by the Righteous Brothers) “lost that lovin’ feelin” you can rekindle it. Blogs that will be added to this section will help you rediscover your “Whoopee!” However, you need to have a clear understanding of the source of love and the attributes of love first because it is impossible to truly love your spouse without loving God first.
As a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and we should be producing spiritual fruit. The Apostle Paul told us what kinds of fruit is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22, we read, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” Did you notice that the very first fruit is love? Read back through the list. Which of these “fruits” would you say is evident in your marriage right now? Which ones are there, but need some cultivating? Which ones have withered up and died? Which ones have never been planted?
Like a garden, love needs to be tended, cultivated, fertilized, and well-watered if it is to continue to have life and if it is to grow. Like a flower, if you leave it untended, it will die. I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. How many times have you heard the saying, “Love is blind.” Well, it is…to some degree. That’s why when you were first married all those little annoying habits your spouse has didn’t annoy you. Love covered it up. However, not just any love, an intense love.
Don’t you want to be intensely loved? Christ loved you so intensely that He willingly gave his life for you. God so intensely loved you that he sent his only Son to die as the atoning sacrifice for your sins. God so intensely loves you that he pursues you. There is nothing you could ever do, no place you could every hide where he will not seek you out or choose to not love you. He intensely, passionately longs to be in relationship with us…it’s why He created us. So even when we mess things up, he calls out to us. Just as when Adam and Eve ate from the tree God told them not to and they ran and hid from him as they recognized the guilt associated with their disobedience. Each evening, God would came to the Garden of Eden to spend time with Adam and Eve; but on this night, they were not where they usually met. So God called out to them: “Adam!? Eve!? Where are you?” It wasn’t that God didn’t know where they were — He did. I think God was giving them a chance to come clean; instead, they Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. I also think that God wanted Adam and Eve to know that even though they sinned, he still pursued them. He wanted them to know he missed the relationship He had had with them. He wanted them to know His heart ached because of their disobedience and for the consequences it would bring them. However, their disobedience created separation between them and God. Sin had entered the world and would forever be a divide between man and God. God knew before he ever created the world that creating Adam would mean sin would occur and it would require a payment. That payment would be his only son, Jesus. Still, God chose to create man. He chose to create me. He chose to create you. And he longs to connect with each of us, intimately. When we sin, He grieves over the distance between us and Him. He longs for our companionship and He will search for you until you find Him.
Love is something we all want. We seek it. We need it. We crave it. Without love and without the source of love, there is an empty void in your lives that we will try to fill with all kinds of things: hobbies, people, job, drugs, alcohol, self-worth, material possessions. However, none of these will ever fill the void because God created us with the innate need for Him. It is only when we come to Him in faith and surrender our lives to him that the void is filled.
In 1st Corinthians 13:13, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Why do you think love is the greatest? It is the glue that binds everything together, including your marriage. Colossians 3:14 says, “Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” Through godly love, we are able to bind and glue two imperfect people together so tightly that it cannot be separated without breaking either one or both. I think this concept is demonstrated perfectly in the 2008 movie produced by the Sherwood Pictures, called “Fireproof.” Watch the short YouTube clip below:
Don’t let your marriage burn to the ground. Cultivate God’s love for you by actively pursing Him Then you will be able to cultivate your love for your spouse.