It seems that I lately I am dealing with more and more with divorce than ever before. In each case, there are real issues and if patience, forgiveness, reconciliation were to rule, the issues can be worked through and resolved, but I really believe that there is a level of pride in each case that keeps one of the people in these marriages from resolving issues and remaining husband and wife.
In nearly every case that I have ever dealt with as a pastor or as a friend, they claim that they love each other. But love is not leading their hearts and minds, but emotions are ruling (love is emotional but not an emotion). Their feelings are blinding love reasoning. Let me explain.
Dictionary.com defines love mostly as affection, emotion, even sexual fulfillment ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love ). It’s all about a feeling guided by emotion. The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes the same sort of definitions as Dictionary.com, but has a broader definition that comes closer to the Bible’s teaching and definition of love.
4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person’s adoration of God ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love ).
A Biblically accurate definition of love is “sacrifice.”
Love is not an emotion as I’ve said before. Love has emotional responses of hurt and anger and affection and joy and passion and many things that the dictionaries define as love. They’re defining the emotional response. See love is a choice. It is something that grows. Several young people who I have taught and counseled feel that they don’t have a choice in love. They may be drawn to another person because of their looks, the way they respond to them or any other number of things, but they can’t help but love them because that is love. Love is a choice and love is sacrifice.
Who better to define love than God. John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16). And God’s definition of love is this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down their life for their friends” John 15:13, see also 1 John 3:16 (my paraphrase).
What is the ultimate sacrifice? Dying for someone else. We see it with soldiers fighting to protect family and country. We see if with people who save a drowning person but die in the process, or someone who pushes a person out-of-the-way of a speeding vehicle and are run down and killed by the same vehicle. We see it in Jesus dying on the cross. God’s love in the death of Jesus Christ the only unique Son of God.
“The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them” (John 15:13, Contemporary English Version).
The cure for troubled marriages is to make love like God’s love. To sacrifice self, my wants, my emotions, my will to the other which will lead to forgiveness, to change, to reconciliation.
Love looks out for the total well-being of the other. It is not self-seeking, which is what is happening in each of the failing marriages that I mentioned above.
Church issues, friendship issues, any separation or break-down in relationships will be cured by Godly, Biblically defined love. See how the definition of selflessness and self-sacrifice is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.