By David Faust
Candy was only 20 years old when she became my wife. I was 21—six months older but equally immature. In the quaint words of a dairy farmer, we approached marriage as bewildered as two cows staring at a new gate.
Despite our immaturity, we understood that God designed marriage to be a lifelong covenant. As our wedding day approached, I found it almost overwhelming to read the biblical admonition, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). I reasoned if that’s what I am supposed to do, then I had better saturate myself with God’s definition of love. So I read the Bible’s love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) every day during the month leading up to my wedding (that was 31 days in a row, ending on our wedding day, August 31).
When the honeymoon was over and we shoved our clothes into the same closet for the first time, we were unprepared for the amount of baggage we would unpack in the years ahead. Graciously God allowed us to grow up together. Now in a later season of life, Candy and I often have the opportunity to speak with couples preparing for marriage. Our advice?
Love is a choice; commit to it.
Romance stirs powerful feelings, but ultimately no one falls in love; we decide to love. If love were not a choice, how could the Bible command us to do it? Love requires willing sacrifice and long-term endurance. In marriage it means acting in your partner’s best interest during those inevitable seasons of sickness and health, plenty and poverty, better and worse.
Love is a verb; act on it.
In a culture where patriarchal customs called for arranged marriages, Jacob worked seven years for the privilege of marrying Rachel—only to be tricked by his father-in-law into marrying Laban’s other daughter, Leah. Jacob willingly worked another seven years because he was determined to be Rachel’s husband. Jacob’s family circumstances seem foreign to us, but we understand the enduring principle: married love requires years of faithful work.
Love is a gift; cherish it.
“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20). Don’t you sense the wonder in that verse? Jacob considered those long years of sacrificial labor a worthwhile investment. True lovers willingly endure immeasurable difficulties for the sake of their beloved. Yes, marriage is work, but it’s also a privilege and a joy filled with spiritual mystery—a precious gift to have and to hold.
Candy and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary last year. Before the celebration I decided to reread the Bible’s love chapter each day during the weeks leading up to our anniversary. I discovered that 1 Corinthians 13 still challenges me to understand what love is (patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, persevering) and what love isn’t (envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, brooding over past wrongs).
God’s love hasn’t changed over the years, but my wife and I have changed. And we still have plenty of room to grow as we continue discovering how “these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”
(1 Corinthians 13:13).
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
|Dec. 28||M.||Proverbs 11:9-13||Trustworthy Lives|
|Dec. 29||T.||Proverbs 12:19-26||Honesty: The Best Policy|
|Dec. 30||W.||Proverbs 24:3-7, 13, 14||Wisdom More Than Strength|
|Dec. 31||T.||1 Timothy 1:12-17||Judged Faithful|
|Jan. 1||F.||Genesis 28:15-22||The Lord Is Present|
|Jan. 2||S.||Genesis 29:9-14||Welcome Home|
|Jan. 3||S.||Genesis 29:15-30||One Groom, Two Brides|
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © 2011, unless otherwise indicated.