Love is Based on Truth

I do a lot of marriage counseling.   Sadly, most of it is not preventive, but rather involves restoring hope and dealing with hurts that need to be forgiven.   It’s true, people spend a disproportionate amount of time on their wedding than their marriage.

Through the years I have heard a common refrain from people that want to bail out of their marriage.  If you were to ask others that counsel regularly I think they would say the same thing.    Here is what I hear most often, “I don’t love them anymore.  I’m not happy and I know that God wants me to be happy so I’m leaving”.

That line of thinking is based on a lie.   First of all, it is equating love strictly to feelings and emotions.   Love is not contingent on your spouse’s behavior, but is offered sometimes in spite of their behavior.  I like Paula and I love her, too.   But what happens if there are some things she does that I don’t like?

Love enables me to continue giving, caring and doing good to her no matter what she does.     My friend, Johnny Pope, says it powerfully, “Phileo (friendship) love will bring you to the marriage altar, but only agape (sacrificial) love will keep you there”.

A second fallacy is the idea that the ultimate goal in marriage is one’s personal happiness.    Understand that I enjoy being happy, but that isn’t God’s purpose for my life – even in my marriage.   To believe that when I’m unhappy I can’t love anymore will inevitably result in the unraveling of my relationship with that person.

God’s greater purpose for every believer is that they be holy and have the character of Christ in their life (Romans 8:29),     God has designed it so that the byproduct of living a holy life is having a happy spirit.   The place where God polishes the rough spots from our lives more than any other is the home, especially in marriage.    (A helpful book on this aspect of marriage is “When Sinners Say ‘I Do'” by Dave Harvey).

If you are a believer God gave you your spouse to help to make you like Jesus, not to make you happy.  Warren Wiersbe wrote, “God is more concerned about your character than your comfort”.   He uses difficult times to develop my character and to teach me what it really means to love in spite of pain and hurt.

If you put the cart before the horse (happiness before holiness) you will never discover happiness, but only become bitter and disillusioned.    Someone said, “The reason people are disillusioned is because they had an illusion in the first place”.      People are disillusioned with marriage because they are basing it on a faulty syllogism; that is, God wants me to be happy; if my spouse hinders my happiness I cannot love them; I will leave them and find someone that makes me happy.

That’s not true, but it is the way we naturally think.   I saw a sign in Cracker  Barrel one day that reflected God’s Word, “Happiness in marriage isn’t so much finding the right person, but being the right person”.     The focus isn’t to be on my happiness, but my holiness.

Our wedding on June 2, 1979.

Our wedding on June 2, 1979.

Here’s the root problem: most people have no clue what true love is.   It isn’t based on one’s emotions.    Love is seeking the highest good of another person even if it means personal sacrifice.    And that isn’t always fun, even very painful, but in those times love is genuinely expressed.

God has given us specific, measurable characteristics of love in I Corinthians 13.   The quality I’ll deal with in the next few posts is the one that people push away from and reject, but you simply cannot love someone without it.    The Bible says that love “rejoiceth in the truth” (I Corinthians 13:6).

The word “rejoiceth” means “to be glad in, to congratulate”.   The idea is that love is glad for that which is true and right and finds joy in it.    Love is based on truth and does what is right – even if it is difficult and painful.    Love’s joy is not found in my feelings, but in doing what is right in spite of my emotions.

Once I was talking with a person that had been deeply wounded by the actions of their spouse.   The hurt was fresh, raw and visibly seen on their countenance.    I didn’t know how they were going to react.   I asked them, “What are you going to do?   Are you going to make an effort to work things out?”

Immediately they replied, “Yes, I’m going to do everything I can to make it work.  I love them”.     Though there was a lack of happiness at the moment, there was genuine love for their spouse.    And they did work it out.    You can, too, if you will reject the notion that love is a feeling.

This House Still Stands

(Steve Chapman)

It started as a rumble,

Turned into a roar.

Do you remember how that wind

Pounded on our door?

We lost some shingles,

We lost a window pane,

But when that storm had passed us

This old house remained.

This house still stands;

This house still stands.

We built it on The Rock,

We didn’t build it on the sand,

This house still stands

It started as a teardrop,

And turned it into a flood.

When troubles came to wash away

These walls these hold our love.

But babe do you remember

How we called on Jesus’ name?

And when that flood was over

This old house remained.

This house still stands;

This house still stands.

We built it on The Rock,

We didn’t build it on the sand,

This house still stands.

Our 25th wedding anniversary celebration in 2004.

Our 25th wedding anniversary celebration in 2004.

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About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 39 years with seven children and eight grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Family Issues, Happiness, Joy, Love, Marriage, Truth and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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