Love and Marriage

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a


Skit by Pastor Mike and Carrie Partch

Love and Marriage.  Two things that I believe must go hand in hand.  Certainly, marriage without love is simply torture.  In fact, part of our vows of marriage to each other is a promise to love each other until death.  It is also true, that if there is a genuine love between a couple without marriage, there is no commitment, no union, and no genuine fulfillment.  So, I hope that you would agree that Love and Marriage go hand in hand.

Frank Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage”

We all know that love goes well beyond the emotional, sensually driven feelings one has for another.  A couple of weeks ago we spoke briefly about the four words in Greek that we translate love in our English Bibles.

First, there is “Phileo” love.  This is friendship love, brotherly love, a love that simply desires to be in another person’s company.  Philadelphia means the city of brotherly love.  “Storgay” is a word that generally refers to the kind of love you have for your relatives. It is a love for those who you are connected to through family.  Then there is “Eros” love. This is a sensual, physical, sexually, and emotionally driven love.  This is where we get the word erotic.

The fourth kind of love is the kind of love God talks about in our marriage relationships.  It is “agape” which is a word that indicates a love that is beyond all other loves.  It is sacrificial love.  This is the kind of love God has for us and the kind of love He expects us to have for each other.

Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband.  "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even.  Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me."

Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan "Go home and act as if you really love your husband.  Tell him how much he means to you.  Praise him for every decent trait you can think of.  Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible.  Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him.  Make him believe your love is intense and passionate for him.

After you've thoroughly convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, and then drop the bomb n him. Tell him that you're getting a divorce.  That will really hurt him."  

With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, "what a beautiful plan, that will really make him hurt.  Will he ever be surprised!"  And she did it with enthusiasm.  Acting "as if" she loved him.  For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, and sharing. 

When she didn't return two months later, Dr. Crane called her. He said, "Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?"  "Divorce?" she exclaimed.  "Never!  I discovered I really do love him."  Her actions had changed her feelings.  Motion resulted in emotion.  The ability to love someone is not established by how we feel, not even by what we promise . . . as it is by what we do.

I believe that is what we have in 1 Corinthians 13.  Besides the 23rd Psalm, 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most familiar chapters in the Bible.  Used at weddings and anniversary celebrations because it speaks to us about what love really looks like.  It is not some emotionally based feeling we have for our spouse.  Love is a commitment to act on what we say.  All the words used here are verbs, words of action, not feeling.  They describe how agape love acts, how agape love responds, . . . not how love feels.

These actions of love go completely against our natural inclinations and we are only able to put this into practice with God’s help.  Agape love is not based on impulsive feelings, otherwise God’s love for us would most likely be none existent for me and you.  Why do I say that?  Impulsive love characterizes the spouse who announces to the other spouse that they are planning to divorce their mate.  Why?  They reason “I fell out of love for my spouse and I fell in love with another person!”  So my first question is you “fell” in and out of love, or you “chose,” on impulse, to love or not love?

Christians must understand that impulsive love is completely contrary to God’s decisive love, which is decisive because He is in control and has a purpose in mind.  Agape love is the Christians badge, sort of speak, that he wears as a disciple of Jesus.  He commits to love in action like Christ commits to love us.

If love is an action, not an emotion, we need to study what God has to say about love.  We need to know what love is and what it looks like when it is lived out in our marriages, families, and even in our church.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never ends.

Evidence of Love (v. 4a) -- What Love Is

There are two words used to describe what love is.  If you ask someone unfamiliar with the Bible what two words do they think God uses to describe love, I doubt they would come up with these two words.  Love is patient and kind.

~ Patient

We often chuckle when it comes to patience.  Patience is a virtue we say.  We need to be patient with others.  The King James version translates this as love “suffereth long.”  The idea of patience is waiting, delaying, or constraint of one’s self.  And the word does mean being patient even until it hurts.  So, the KJV has the right idea in “suffereth long.”

Love is being patient with our spouse.  This is not just being patient with your wife as she prepares hair and makeup to go out in public or being patient with a husband who has trouble getting the DIY projects around home done.  This means patience in the whole of their lives.  Patient in their spiritual growth and walk with the Lord, patience in their becoming the man or woman God is molding them to be.  I cannot believe the patience God has with me and so we should have patience with our spouse.

~ Kind

When this term is used of people it means “worthy,” “decent,” “honest,” morally “upright” or “good.”  The term may thus be used for a “good” character or a “good” disposition, or for someone who is “good” at a particular task.

When a person is kind or good toward their spouse, … possibly even one who doesn’t deserve it, you know they are loved.  When a spouse is patient even to the point they hurt, you know they love the one they married.  Now keep in mind, this doesn’t mean a loving spouse overlooks serious sin, abusive actions, or immorality issues in marriage, but with Godly discernment, they chose patience and kindness over anger and disappointment.  This is evidence of agape love.

Love is patient, love is kind.  The next couple of verses give us a defining dimension of love.  So that we understand clearly, God gives us 8 things that love is not!

Defining Love (v. 4b-6) -- What Love Is Not

~ Envious

Envy is a misguided passion or zeal over something.  There is resentment over another’s success or doing well.  Jealousy is another term we could use here.  Jealousy implies being displeased with the success of others.  But we know that true love desires the success of others.  When we show envy toward another, we are not loving them.

We need to pray, particularly for our spouse, that they are successful not just in life, but especially in their walk with God. Envy and love cannot coexist.  If you find yourself feeling envious, you should pray for their success and continue to bless them and help them be successful.  Love does not envy.

~ Boastful

Simply put, love does not show off.  Boasting is embellishing what we do in the name of love.  We have to show off that we have done this or that because we love our spouse.  This means the more loving you become, the less boasting you do.  The greater your spiritual gifts, the less prone you should be to brag.  After all, the gifts you have been graciously given are from God.

When we do something for our spouse, it shouldn’t be to get recognized for it.  The things we do in love should not be about putting ourselves on a pedestal, look at what a great husband, or awesome wife I am.  Showing agape love is not about us, it is about our humble love for our spouse.

~ Arrogant

This is another word about being proud, boastful, or arrogant.  the word means to blow up or to puff up.  It is the “look at me” syndrome.  The man may say, “look at me, I work hard, I come home and help my wife around the house, I look good, make a good income, why would she not love someone like me?”

Genuine love for a spouse, destroys any kind of superiority feelings that we would want to blow air into, to puff up.  Love is not arrogant.

~ Rude

Disgraceful, dishonorable, indecent behavior.  Unfortunately, in most of our marriages and families, as we become more comfort with our spouse we fail to show them the respect we show friends and acquaintances.  Somehow, we say and do things to our spouse, that we would never do to anyone else.  Simply, Agape love is not rude.

~ Selfish

“Insist on its own way.”   Selfish is exactly what it means.  It is a focus on self, a desire to seek our own praise, honor, pleasure, or desires.  It is indeed self-love.  When we love like Jesus loves, our love is sacrificial for the benefit of others.  In other words, agape love means that in our marriage relationship, it is not about what I get from it, but what I can give into it.  Genuine love is not selfish.

~ Provoked

“Irritable.”  Literally, “to be sharpened, to cause a negative emotional reaction.”  It is getting upset with our spouse, being touchy or temperamental with our spouse.  In other words, our spouse shouldn’t feel as though they are walking around on egg shells around us waiting for the next time they set off an angry response.  Genuine love is not provoked.

~ Resentful

This is an interesting word.  It means to think or reckon bad or evil things about another.  Now why on earth would a person think evil of their spouse?  When a husband does not pick up his underwear, or fix the leaking faucet, do you think all gracious and loving thoughts?  Or when a wife doesn’t fix a meal you like or be intimate when you want her too, are the thoughts always loving and kind?

Love does not allow resentment, evil thinking, about our spouse to enter into the relationship.  Allowing those kind of thoughts, will result in an embittered relationship.

~ Joyful about Sin

“Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.”  The word here is unrighteousness.  We might say, I never rejoice about my spouse’s sin, you may be right.  But what about our own wrongdoing toward our spouse.  Do we ever do things simply to try and make them angry, get even for a wrong they have done to you, or simply because we think they deserve it.  Do we take joy in unrighteous acts toward our spouse?  Genuine love does not rejoice at doing wrong.

This last negative characteristic describing what love is not (not rejoicing over wrongdoing) is countered by what love does in verse 6.  It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth.  I believe marriage should be about honesty and truth.  If we find ourselves hiding things from our spouse, other than planned surprises, then we are rejoicing in wrongdoing.  Genuine love is being open and honest with our spouse.

After these 8 negative defining statements of agape love, verse 7 gives us what love does in four powerful positive actions that we are to take toward loving our spouse.

Outlook of Love (v. 7)

What Love Does

~ Covers

“Bears all things.”  The word has the idea of covering, thatching over or protecting.  Loving our spouse means that there are things we protect our spouse from.  We cover them, or protect them from humiliation or criticism.  Often, I have seen and heard husbands and wives humiliate their spouse in front of friends or family.  It is easy to talk about the things that are negative, but genuine love will cover and protect those things and talk about the things we can honor and build up to others.

I am not talking about covering their sin or trying to make them look like something they are not.  However, all of us have faults, we may have some quirks about us, we have made mistakes, idiosyncrasies we struggle with, or whatever it may be.  But rather than demeaning our spouse about them, we should build them up in honorable things.  Love bears or covers things in a marriage relationship.  Which naturally leads us to the next characteristic of genuine love.

~ Believes

Believes all things.”  This isn’t talking about believing everything a spouse says to you whether it is true or not.  Hopefully you can believe what your spouse tells you is the truth.  The idea here continues the thought of “bearing all things.”  A loving husband or wife will believe the best about their spouse.

I can tell you from experience, that there is nothing more encouraging in a marriage relationship than when your spouse believes in you and encourages you.  This is especially true in spiritual things.  We should encourage our spouses in their walk with the Lord, showing that you believe in them.  Which leads us to the next characteristic of love.

~ Hopes

“Hopes all things.”  This is a confidant expectation of what the one we love can do.  We are not talking about unreasonable optimism, but rather a confidence in our spouse that indicates to them that you see something in them they may not see themselves.  And when failure happens, hope given from a spouse picks us back up and drives us onward and upward.  Spiritual giants often credit a spouse who had a confidant expectation in them.

~ Perseveres

“Endures all things.”  The idea is simply that love does not take a step back, rather, love stands its ground and endures though there is opposition against love.  The word “endures” is a military term that means to hold a position at all costs, even unto death, whatever it takes.  The battle may be lost but the soldier keeps on fighting to the very end.  In other words, agape love is something you fight for, stand for and never give up.

This naturally leads us to the first part of verse 8.

Duration of Love (v. 8a)

            ~ Unending

Love never ends.”  The word “ends” here has the idea of falling or failing.  It never stops, it is unending.  In other words, there is no such thing as “falling out of love,” rather we choose not to love.


Love is not talk; it is action.  It is not just about telling our husband or our wife that we love them at least once a day.  It is about taking the actions to show them we love them.  We’re all prone to apply verses like these to our spouse.  But I want you to think specifically about how you treat your spouse.  How well do we express agape love toward our husband or wife?  Don’t think about there love for you, let’s examine our love.

Judging by what 1 Corinthians 13 says about love, we might be tempted to see love as a bunch of does and don’ts.  But that is not what is going on here.  Love in a marriage relationship is about our spouse.  We need to take our eyes off of ourselves and get past any ideas of love as an obligation and turn it into the responsibility of love to our spouse.  You say what is the difference?

When we committed to that person in a marriage relationship, we took on the responsibility of helping each other become what God designed us to be.  As Christians, we have a high calling of helping each other to become more like Jesus.  For Jesus, your wedding day was simply the start of a lifelong extreme makeover designed to advance His disciples into Kingdom builders.

As a feeling or emotion, love isn't worth much because the feeling or emotion will one-day fade.  But love that is practiced, will become your greatest treasure.  A husband’s love should bring out the hidden beauty of his bride’s heart and polish her love for God.  A wife’s love should build and strengthen the desire of her groom to become more like Christ.

Rather than focusing on what we can get out of our marriage, we need to focus on what we can put into the marriage relationship.  Our marriages should put on display to the world around us what a relationship with Jesus looks like.  Do you love your spouse.  Remember, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.