Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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 13:4-8 (NIV)
On 24 May 2015 we began to look at the attributes of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 and to apply these in the context of Christian marriage. Having considered the different characteristics or attributes of love, we now conclude our study. Paul does this by stating that ‘Love never fails’ (NIV), which is translated as ‘Love never ends’ in the ESV.
Paul encourages us in Philippians to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus in our relationships (which must include marriage):
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV)
This must mean that in marriage both partners are there to serve the other (not to be their slave). In the 21st century we have a problem with the idea of being a servant, primarily because we equate ‘servant’ with ‘servile’. Philippians clearly states that Jesus adopted this attitude, yet didn’t feel in any way inferior to the Father. If Jesus can do this, what is the problem with husbands and wives adopting the same attitude in their marriage? Perhaps it is the verses in Ephesians 5 that cause us a problem. Consider what is said in Ephesians 5:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:22-28 (NIV)
The issue of headship and submission should fade into the background when husbands take seriously the expectation that they will love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. As a husband, can I ask you are you helping your wife to become more holy and radiant? As a wife, can I ask you do you want your husband to assist you to become more Christlike?
The standard expected of husbands and wives within Christian marriage is undoubtedly high, as it is based on the model of the marriage of God and his people, as well as Christ and his church. We discovered in one of our studies that taking on the attributes of love is in effect taking on the nature of God.
So pray for grace to make your marriage work, by seeking to develop the attributes of love in both yourself and your spouse.
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