When you look at your spouse what do you see? I remember the first day I saw my wife. I was standing on the stage at our church and there she was, in all her beauty and peacefulness, sitting in the second row in the overflow seating. I began to interact with her and the more I saw the more I found myself “head over heels.” The more I saw, the more I desired. I was loving by sight. I perceived no flaw in her.
But what about when your spouse is not easy to love? Almost every couple I have counseled, whether in conflict or engaged, at one time had a view of their partner that is unrealistically flawless. But the truth is that he or she, like you, is a person with desires, limitations, and tendencies that sooner or later will disappoint. The Bible reminds us that no one can say, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9).
Loving by Faith
Scripture teaches us that we are called to live by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) In the same way, you must learn to love by faith not by sight in times of disappointment and hurt in marriage.
The goal of all Christian instruction is love from a sincere heart of faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
The only thing that counts in Christ is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6)
We must allow specific biblical beliefs about God to motivate in us a sincere and unconditional love toward our spouse.
As you read this article, perhaps you are at a place of calling it quits or wishing you had never married your spouse. Your vow to love “for better or worse” conceived not how bad ”worse” could get. If this describes you, Christ wants to give you new eyes to see what He sees so you can love like He does.
“I counsel thee to … anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:18)
Such eyes to see will give you a heart to believe things that will motivate Christ-like love. However, such faith-motivated love does not come from you but by hearing love-motiving truths from God about the person, promises, and perspectives of God.
Below are fourteen love-motivating truths of the Christian faith. Next time you are tempted to have unloving actions or attitudes toward your spouse, reflect on these along with the accompanying Scriptures. If love is compelled, then biblical faith is being fed.
- The Devil increases the division and destruction in my life and marriage if I respond in sinful anger (Ephesians 4:26-27).
- The Spirit increases His work of unity and conviction of sin if I respond with edifying words to my spouse while addressing the problem (Ephesians 4:29-30; John 16:8-ff).
- When I serve the “least of these” (which certainly includes my spouse) I am literally serving Christ Himself (Matt 25:40).
- Jesus loved me not because of what we were but because of what His love would cause us to become – glorious (Ephesians 5:25-27; Eph 2:1-4).
- God loved me and did good to me while an enemy – yet His love has made me His own through great sacrifice (1 John 4:19; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Romans 5:1-2; 1 John 4:8; I John 3:14-20).
- God says to me, ‘I had mercy on you, should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant’ (Matt. 18:33).
- My God protects me with His power and will exalt me if I remain humble in my responses because He cares for the humble (Isaiah 40: 23-26; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Isaiah 57:15; 1 Peter 3:4; 1 Peter 3:7).
- My God in wisdom has planned this trial for my good because I need to grow in faith and love (Psalm 139; Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7-9).
- My Christ-like aroma will draw my spouse to repentance if God is at work saving my spouse (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
- My kindness and obedience will lead to the repentance and change of my spouse if God wills it to be (See 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Also study 2 Peter 2, 3 and Proverbs 15:1, 16:7 for more on the promise of spiritual influence and positive impact a Christian’s good deeds have on the evil around him).
- My loving response to my spouse’s struggle to love me is producing a greater gain and joy in eternity if I remain pleasing to the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 – Also study Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Peter 1:11 to see the eternal benefits promised for those who please the Father).
- If I continue to demonstrate love for Jesus by loving my spouse, especially when he/she struggles to love me, Christ will teach me more about Himself and make me more like Himself (John 14:21, 23).
- There is no greater joy than to become more like Christ and the more I lovingly respond to my spouse out of biblical faith, the more like Christ I am becoming (Gal 5:22-24; 2 Cor 3:18).
- There is no greater value or good I can gain in this life than knowing Jesus Christ more intimately and becoming more like Jesus Christ more fully, and this relationship is challenging me in that pursuit better than if the bad never occurred (Phil 3:10; 2 Pet 1:3-4).
Do you believe the above faith-declarations? When you contemplate them do they help you to view and love your spouse more sincerely and unconditionally? If so, you are learning to love more by faith and less by sight. As you remain active in this love, you may need help discerning how to respond wisely to your spouse’s larger or repeated sins against you. Reach out for help. Review your faith-declarations each time you are tempted to react sinfully to your spouse. If you do, you will have the greatest possible positive impact on your marriage. Keep feeding your marital love with biblical faith.
Founder and Executive Director of the Lowcountry Biblical Counseling Center
Tim Bryant is the founder and Executive Director of the Lowcountry Biblical Counseling Center in Charleston, South Carolina since 2003. Before LCBCC, Tim served as a pastor for ten years in the Chicagoland area. LCBCC ministry is committed to providing resources, training and partnerships to help develop effective biblical counseling (i.e. intensive discipleship) for, in and through the local church. Currently LCBCC employs six staff counselors, assisted by several volunteer team counselors. Tim’s counseling and speaking ministry have been used to help many couples and families struggling with intense interpersonal conflict, as well as many individuals seeking to overcome personal problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, bitterness, addiction, and guilt. He holds his Master’s in Biblical Counseling from the Master’s University (California), and is certified by the Association of Biblical Counselors. Tim and his wife, Erin, have four children.
For More Resources, contact LCBCC at http://www.lcbcc.org.