Love. In Hebrew it is the word “ahab” and in Greek “agapé" but they both are action words for love. This means that there must be a conscious act towards the one you love. Biblically they mean something much deeper. Their meanings go beyond behavior and transfer into an attitude. Agapé love is described as a Christ-like love. One that is characterized as being selfless, loyal, unselfish, and with benevolent concern. It is the greatest of all and unwilling to yield.
The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield. James 3:17
I was studying the parable of the Reed and the Oak, a story about compromise, and how the reed was willing to bend, while the oak was not. According to the parable, a giant oak tree and a thin reed were both planted by the river. Whenever a rain came, the deep roots of the oak kept firmly established, enabling it to withstand most winds. It boasted to the reed of its strength and made fun of the reed. It would, however, be blown over by a wind of sufficient strength. The reed, on the other hand, would bend to the right or left, even with a strong wind and never be uprooted. It silently waved from side to side. The conclusion of the story was that the oak, because of its refusal to compromise could end up losing its very life in the storm. The reed, though it would survive, could do so only by continually bending even during a storm.
Open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I want to walk you through the characteristics of love so that you can see it reflects both feelings and loving acts.
When I read this parable my heart skipped a beat. God gave me a gift the day I read this and spoke to my heart about the love I should have towards my husband. At this very moment I can rattle of a list of things that my husband and I have disagreed on and some we will never will agree on. The list is not to terribly long, it’s pretty short actually. On the top of the list is our dog, Hiccup. My husband never wanted a dog, I am a dog lover. My husband bends a great deal so that we may have this large, Boxer-Labrador mix, who sheds, is scared of storms, loves being in the house, but does not behave very well. I love that dense dog and he too makes me crazy but I do realize that my husband truly bends like a wet reed for Hiccup and the problems that come with owning a dog. For me the joy of having a pet greatly outweigh the trouble he can cause. Like my husband, the reed was “willing” to bend, to give a little, even in a gentle breeze. In a storm however, it was steadfast, bending but not broken. If we start to consider our role in our marriage as a bending reed, our marriage would also be steadfast and unbroken. We all have areas in our marriage that we should be willing to bend a little for. Yes, we are all defensive in our nature and expect the same courtesies from our spouse but we aren’t studying on our husbands. We are studying on what God will have us do as wives, how willing we are to bend in our marriage. Open your Bible’s and let’s explore together love as more than just a feeling.
1 John 3:11, 23; 4:11
Love is not optional, we are commanded to love one another.
It breaks my heart to hear a friend say “But, I’m supposed to love my husband.” All the while sobbing because she does not feel the love she expects to in a marriage. We all expect that heart pounding, fire in our bellies, head swimming love when we are married. I’m here to tell you that is not love. That is something else. There have been times even in my own marriage when I didn’t “like” my husband. We can be disgusted by situations or behaviors but we, sisters, are commanded to love first. The rest must work itself out.
Desire for our husbands can wax and wane but love must be steady.
How does reading this make you feel?
Read: 1 John 3:14, 4:7, 20
Love is demonstrative. Our love for God is shown to the degree we show love to others.
Well, that stepped right on my toes. Ouch! Sure, it is possible to show love towards other people and not even know God but there is a different kind of love when we do know God. When we know Him in such a way that we truly love Him. Our attitudes towards those that hurt us, say mean things, ignore our feelings, and look for ways to belittle us becomes very much different than a worldly love. This goes beyond our feelings of hurt and bitterness and becomes a love that focuses on eternity.
Has there been times that you have deliberately withheld the demonstration of love? Why or why not?
1 John 3:17
Love is active and looking for a place to land. We are commanded to do acts of love. If we shut our eyes and ignore the needs of others, our love for God is called into question. When God put you and your husband together, He entrusted your husband to you and you to him. There are needs that arise and we are obligated to acknowledge those needs.
Is there a time when you must simply acknowledge the need but not act on it?
1 John 4:19
We are only able to love because we have been and are loved by God. This love causes us to respond lovingly towards others. If you are reading this study it is because you believe your marriage is worth saving, is worth fighting for, brand new, or just needs strengthening. Your role as a wife in this study is to open your heart to what God is trying to pour in. He loves you! His love is bigger and purer than you will ever experience on earth. You will find safety and security in His love, He loved you first.
As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep my commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. John 15:9-12
Remain (v9): A believer’s continual connection to Christ is necessary for spiritual health and yields the fruit of love for others.
What do you expect from the people who love you?
What ways can you express love to your husband when he needs it?
How have you experienced the joy of loving others as Christ loves you?
How does your relationship with God impact your relationship with your husband?
3 ways that you can show your love today:
I am married to my high school sweetheart. We've been pressing ahead together for over 24 years. We have 5 beautiful children; 3 by my own body and 2 through foster to adopt. I wrote this Bible study in 2009, years ago, for myself and shared it on my blog. It is very dear to my heart. It's been tweaked and edited many times and I'm proud to be bringing it back to you. Over the years I received countless emails from women who credited this study with changing their marriage for the better. Since removing it from my old blog I have received just as many emails asking when it would return. I hope you enjoy spending your time in God's Word with me.