What is it that defines, more than anything, the person and ministry of Jesus? After all, he did the things Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians. What about His miracles? His faith? His martyrdom?
Read back through that last paragraph. A word is missing …
You know the answer. It’s love. His love for us. He went to the cross not as a martyr but as a savior. He went to lay down His life for His friends. He went to rescue us. He went because of His great love for all who would die to self and follow Him.
And in order for you to be a dispenser of the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13, you have to first be a receiver of God’s love for you. You have to recognize that you have lived a life in rebellion against God. A life focused first and foremost on yourself. Your life has been committed to you.
And the Bible says that while you and I were still in a state of being committed to our own self-interests, God demonstrated His great love for us in this—Christ died for us.
What does the hymn say? Jesus emptied Himself of all but what? Love. He bled for Adam’s helpless race. “Amazing love, how can it be, that thou, my God shouldst die for me.”
The character qualities that define agape love listed in 1 Corinthians 13 are not some kind of self-improvement checklist. They are descriptors of the kind of love that God has for us, and that is produced by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those whose lives are being transformed.
The more we realize the depth of God’s love for us, and the more we meditate on how we are recipients of God’s grace and love for us, the more we will begin to grow in grace and love for others.
Your marriage will only be built on a foundation of agape love if both of you are growing in your understanding of God’s love and grace for you.
The kind of love the Bible describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is not essential for a couple to have a happy marriage. That statement may shock you, but it’s true. There are plenty of couples who have negotiated a workable arrangement in their marriage that is mutually satisfying. Adjustments are made, basic desires are met, and everyone is comfortable with the setup.
But God’s goal for us in marriage goes far beyond comfort and mutual satisfaction. God’s goal for marriage is that we would taste something deeper, something sweeter, and something more glorious in our marriages. He wants us to experience the kind of joy that the Father, Son, and Spirit have always known from long before the world began. He wants us to experience the profound joy that comes from a kind of oneness that is only found in Him. And the only path that leads to that kind of soul-satisfying oneness and joy is the path where the kind of love described here is being cultivated and is flourishing.
When that happens in marriage, we’ll know a kind of joy and contentment we’ve never known before. And God will be exalted in the process because we’ll be showing to everyone around us that His ways are perfect and right and true.
Love Like You Mean It gives husbands and wives a biblical understanding of what real love looks like in marriage by unpacking the ten attributes of genuine love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. Bob Lepine, marriage and family expert and host of the nationally syndicated radio program FamilyLife Today, helps husbands and wives discover that it’s not primarily emotions that define marital love, but actions and decisions that fuel emotions and cause marital love to grow.