The views expressed below are those of the writer and may not reflect the views of Rejoice Marriage Ministries or the Steinkamps.
How many of you woke up this morning with the realization that your ‘one flesh partner’ is not with you today either emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically? Then to make matters worse, your thoughts wander to “how did I get here, how am I going to survive this, how am I going to raise our children,” or “how am I going to pay all these unpaid bills?” Life is hard: family situations can get really messy. On the surface, there seems to be no ‘easy’ answers to these and many other questions that arise when family relationships fracture. The love that once was expressed by the absent partner has become muted. While that individual is operating in a selfish mode, there are many other family members who are affected and harmed, sometimes for a lifetime.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (MSG)
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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
When one gets married, each partner makes pledges which are meant to last a lifetime (until they are parted by death). These pledges can all be summed up in the phrase…unconditional or sacrificial love. When a marriage begins to fracture, one or both partners are deviating from this fundamental pledge of unconditional or sacrificial love. Many of us are familiar with the NIV translation of Paul’s love chapter found in 1 Corinthians 13. However, I like the way Dr. Eugene Peterson states this scripture in The Message, the Bible in Contemporary Language (quoted above alongside the NIV translation for comparison). [Please note: The Message is an idiomatic translation by Dr. Peterson from original (ancient) Bible texts into contemporary language.
“Love never gives up” First and foremost, we are not to throw in the towel! Married life at times is hard, but with God’s help, most of us can weather the storm. I like the next phrase: “Love cares more for others than for self” (unconditional or sacrificial love). When a marriage partner walks out, they are thinking only about themselves. This is not unconditional love. Along this same thought, the phrase “Isn’t always ‘me first,’” suggests that that partner is selfish and not showing unconditional love.
“Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.” Score cards: these contain the poison darts that a spouse hurls at their mate. We all have been there as both a victim and a perpetrator of this sin. This flies in the face of unconditional love.
Think about this phrase: “Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything.” This is a God thing. This is where our Christian walk begins to flourish. Unconditional love? Yes. Sacrificial love? Yes. Oh, how the healing of our family relationships puts a smile on God’s face when we take these words to heart.
“Trusts God always.” This is at the center of a Christian marriage. A marriage built around Jesus Christ and answering to Him only in all things is a marriage clothed in a bullet-proof vest. This relationship reflects a “Love cares more for others than for self.” Christian love, Christian values.
Understand that marriages are built upon covenant and not upon contracts. It is a lifetime commitment, built around God’s love for each of us. It is also built on our love for our spouse. Love…”Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” Love looks toward eternity, for who we each are in Jesus Christ. It looks forward, never backward. It keeps on going (and growing) to the very end…until parted by death.
So back to the subject of this devotional. You will get through this if you will put your faith in Jesus Christ and follow His lead. Marriage is “It is not about me!” Marriages fail because one or both partners are not rock-solid Christians; they forget about what is best for their spouse. Married life can be difficult at times, but it is a work in progress until the day we die. When we are walking with Jesus and have the Holy Spirit firmly implanted in our hearts, we can weather the storms of married life! A successful marriage takes a willingness to lay the couple’s problems and concerns at the foot of the Cross.
Rest assured ‘You will get through this!’ Trust in your Lord Jesus Christ. He will never fail you!
Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me? Hebrews 13:5b-6 (MSG)
Standing firm until parted by death,
Ben in Texas