A commitment to charity and God’s agape love to reach our mate and marriage. Tearing down walls of protection and becoming vulnerable in service, flexibility, courage, forgiveness.
from 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” The Greek word “agape” is translated “love.”
In times like these
I’ve heard that after the wedding bells stop ringing, marriage partners begin to reduce each other to fit their own molds. Ah, but that could never happen to us! Or so I said before we got married.
But now I’m beginning to feel uncomfortably reduced! I thought we knew each other well, but sometimes now I feel I hardly know you at all.
It seems you’re trying to squeeze me into your mold, yet at the same time you’ve smashed all the boundaries which held my cast of an ideal mate.
In times like these, my love can no longer afford to be merely an emotion. In times like these, my love must mature into a ministry, because…
Love is selfish when it swoons, “I love you because of who I am when I am with you.” Love is agape when it declares, “I will serve you regardless of who I am when I am with you.”
There will be times when you will sin against me. During these times I promise to follow the example of our Lord in his relationship with Judas Iscariot. Jesus demonstrated the same love toward Judas that he lavished upon the other apostles. During their three years of companionship, Jesus’ treatment of Judas never gave away the fact that Jesus knew Judas was an impostor (John 13:1-34.)
Forgiveness is not passive.
Forgiveness aggressively makes itself vulnerable.
Forgiveness is turning the other cheek. 70 x 70.
There will be times when we are angry with each other. When I am angry, I promise to abide by this counsel:
Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.”—(Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance.
Those who have been stealing must never steal again. Instead, they must work. They must do something useful with their own hands. Then they will have something to give to people in need.
Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.
Do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad. He marked you with a seal for the day when God will set you completely free.
Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.
–Ephesians 4:26-32, New International Readers’ Version (NIRV)
There will be times when I will sin against you. During these times, I promise to say the three hardest words in the English language:
“I am wrong.”
Some of our friends are getting divorced. Others are living together in “emotional divorce.” But our marriage will be different, because…
1. I will honor our wedding vows before God. I promise to abide with you in love until death do us part.
2. I will let nothing you do destroy me, for I will trust in the Lord at all times.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
3. No matter what you do, I will not protect myself by building a wall between us; for how can I love you through a wall?
4. No, I will not do those things. You see, my love for you is aggressive enough to serve, if need be. It is flexible enough to adjust, if need be. It is brave enough to hurt, if need be. Whatever you do, my love will forgive, because God’s love has been born in me.
Many marriages have failed, but ours will not fail; because I will saturate our marriage with God’s love — agape love — and…
“Agape never fails.”
Definition of “agape”
The Greek word translated “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and many other passages of Scripture is “agape.” Theologians tell us the Bible speaks of three types of love. “Eros” is sexual, “phileo” is based on friendship, and “agape is the love God has for us and wants to develop in us toward others. Many have tried to define “agape,” but I believe the greatest definition of “agape” is 1 Corinthians 13.
It’s not a failure till it’s finished.
Update April 16, 2009: I wrote this item several years before my husband and I were separated in 1999. Some would say my marriage failed, but I say it is not a failure till it is finished. It is not finished until we kneel before God’s throne. If I never see the answer here, I fully expect that God will show me that agape didn’t fail when he brings me to his throne room. Don’t ask me how that can be — I do not know. Just meet me at the throne, for the answer is in God’s hand.
The truth is that both of us failed our marriage and each other in many ways. There are no perfect marriages. I was not always as consistent with agape as I longed to be. Had I been, would it have made a difference? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I can tell you that God’s Word says “Agape never fails.” My experience does not change God’s promise.
We all fall short of what God calls us to be at times. My goal is to be what he calls me to be today. My part is to be faithful to the wedding vows that I made to my husband in the presence of my God. It is to be kind to my husband and seek his best interest, whatever the state of our marriage, and to pray for him.
God has never promised me he would restore my marriage. It would take a tremendous miracle to restore our union, but I have no doubt that God is capable of doing that if he so chooses. So I cannot give up on the restoration of my marriage as long as my husband is not married to another.
What God has told me is that the agape we put into our marriage will not fail. It will accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. How do I know? “Agape never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
In God’s agape,
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted