Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-3, 12 (NIV)
We come now to the final attribute of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘love … always perseveres’. Another possible translation of ‘love … always perseveres’ could be ‘love … never gives up’.
Knowing that we have been considering the attributes of love in Christian marriage, you may have looked at the verses above from James and wondered what they have to do with marriage.
I can assure you that one of the ‘… trials of many kinds …’ mentioned in these verses will be the trial of your faith in the marriage situation. There are few situations where you will be in as close a relationship with another human being than in the marriage relationship.
What does perseverance look like? We recognise it in athletes who keep on going until they reach the finish line, or the golfer who keeps on driving and putting until they reach the 18th hole. We also recognise it when people give up at the first hurdle.
Society seems to think that marriage should be easy and it is acceptable to walk away when the going gets tough. The Bible teaches us otherwise. Why did Paul tell the church in Corinth that ‘love … always perseveres’? It must be because he knew how easy it would be to give up and he wanted to encourage his readers to keep on going in their faith.
So I would encourage you to keep on going with your marriage.
Have you noticed that as you go through marriage the ‘trials’ differ at each stage. You can expect different trials when you are newly weds, when you have a young family, when the children leave home and you are coping as empty nesters, even retirement brings with it different trials. Did I know everything when I got married? Definitely not! Marriage has been a continual process of learning and each new challenge has afforded an opportunity to put faith into action.
Let me leave you with the words of 2 Peter 1:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)
Notice the words ‘For this very reason …’ Why bother to make the effort to develop these attributes? Quoting again from 2 Peter 1 we read:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)
The answer why these attributes are important is that we get to ‘… participate in the divine nature …’ In other words we become more Godly and Christlike as these characteristics develop in us.
My prayer is that each of us will see these qualities in increasing measure in our marriages as we grow and deepen in our faith.
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