1 Corinthians 13
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.
Paul’s exposition of love is one of the most quoted passages in the Scriptures. This is what and how we are to be loving. Jesus tells us where, when, who and why we are supposed to love — love everyone as I have loved you — all the time in every place. Ephesians details a different relationship of love in terms of husbands to wives.
The part I find most interesting is that Christians attempt to qualify love. What becomes lost in translation here is that the love is an essential part of YOU and not others. This is the transformation power of God in your life. God may be working in others and you can see His love radiating from other Christians, but it is not you that is inspiring this love.
I don’t want to add to the Scriptures, but here’s some facts on love that many men, even husband gloss over:
- Love is always given,
- it cannot be taken — from others essentially taking advantage of you,
- it cannot be coerced — from others saying you should do it as God gives love freely,
- it cannot be requested — by others including wives or ourselves from God,
- it meets a need perceived or not,
- it is of your own free will [you must choose to do it],
- it is an opportunity [to serve God and others],
- love is always an action,
- love is never a feeling though feelings may be associated with it,
- love represents a willingness of the giver
- love is performed without any expectations
Everything on this blog is a moot point if someone chooses not to love. I can’t force them to. This is something that is between humans and God.
A wife cannot take love from her husband. She must receive it. She cannot coerce love out of her husband or it is not love. Wives cannot say do this to show your love to me as that is not love. “If you love me then…” is a false statement, and should be called out as such a lie.
This is why it is fruitless for a husband to pray to God to change his wife [to his expectations], or a wife to pray to God to change her husband [to her expectations]. If you remember back to the Lord’s prayer it is a request that God changes you.
Matthew 6 NASB
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [f]evil. [g][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
Praying that God changes others misses the mark to some degree. Rather, it is through the change that He can work in us that a seed can be planted that will grow by His power (Parable of the Seed — Mark 4:26-29). The seed that is planted shows others how God is working through our lives. Thus, our prayers should be aligned with the fact that it is us who need to change to plant the seed, then God can use that to change others.
This is only part of the reason why doing what a woman/wife wants, even if it is good, is not love. It tends not to be out of a man or husband’s own free will. If he is not giving of himself willingly then it is not love but something else. It may be obligation, duty, commitment, responsibility, or expectation which can be good things. But it is not love.
Men are innately resistant to nagging because it takes away our free will. It is a coercion of the other party in an attempt to get us to do what they want us to do rather than us giving of our own free will. As I discussed in Responsibility, it is not good when husbands don’t allow wives free will to experience the consequences of their actions when they are rebellious, and this is one of the ways in which wives limit a husband’s free will.
Marriage counseling and sermons that bash men over the head to love their wives don’t help a husband give love. Instead, they should tell wives to back off and allow their husbands to give love freely by his own measure of his relationship with God and be a helpmeet by encouraging him. Likewise, to win their husbands without a word.
This is the half truth with self improvement and self help gurus. They espouse that you help yourself when in reality it is you having faith with God helping you. God is our ezer, our help. We take off the old and put on the new with the expectation that we cannot do it by ourselves but God helps us through faith. We know God is helping work that change in us through His Holy Spirit.
Essentially, the point I’m trying is that love is your relationship with God. If you understand how, why, what, when, where, and to who God gives His love then you understand as a Christian the same measure that we should pour out into others.
Pleasing a friend, or wife, or child is not necessarily a bad thing. But if it’s not something freely given from you then it’s not love. Don’t let others tell you what you should be doing. Do because you know that God loved you first and that you should love others accordingly.
Love is something that YOU choose freely to do. Because you love God and want to obey His commands. Other reasons are far and away secondary — obligations, commitment, duty, responsibility, and expectations from yourself or others. This is the freedom we have in Christ.