Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8 ESV
If God is love, then we are to look to Him as the example for how to love our spouses. Biblical love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the best for another person without any expectation of return. Biblical love delights in serving one another, honoring one another, encouraging one another. Biblical love surrenders our priorities, our expectations, and our desires and chooses their passions, their hopes, their needs.
Biblical love comes easy when the choice to sacrifice agrees with our priorities or our good. In other words, we can sacrifice if we experience a benefit in some way. We can give up our time to do something for them or we can devote energy to building up our spouse if the choice results in a positive outcome. Here’s an example—many of us prioritize peace in our home above all else, so we often respond in a sacrificial way to protect that harmony. We follow suit or we change plans as a way to keep them happy because we just don’t want the conflict. But I would challenge the true motivation behind the peace-keeping action. If your priority is peace and not your spouse, then your motivation is in the wrong place and your love is not sacrificial. Sometimes we know the sacrifice will boost our self-image because it’s something we can feel good about or we can use to boast to others. If your desire is to project a positive self-image or image about your marriage to others, and it’s not solely for the benefit of your spouse, then it’s not sacrificial. Still others pile sacrificial acts of love in their storehouses to be used as ammunition in a later dispute. We give if we get. We sacrifice for them because we believe they will sacrifice for us. There is an expectation of return on our investment.
Because our hearts are so deceptively self-centered, there is often an ulterior motive when we choose to sacrifice for our spouse. When we are truly pressed up against our own agenda or priorities, we will choose ourselves every time.
True sacrificial love means we lay down what is important to us in favor of what is important to our spouses. We give up our point of view, our beliefs, our comforts, our expectations and we pick up theirs as valuable. This is so hard for us. We hold so fast to the things that are important to us that we have a difficult time truly seeing anything from their perspective. We stand so self-righteous in our own minds on certain issues that we cannot let them go when a situation calls us to lay down our rights for theirs.
At its heart, biblical love is a commitment to putting their needs first, regardless of our own beliefs or comforts or expectations. It’s not just an attitude, but an action: it shows itself in deeds. Those deeds often require self-sacrifice, laying down what is most important to us. His kind of sacrificial love cannot be done in our own power, but only by allowing His Spirit to move the mountains of priorities, desires, and expectations in our own hearts. Seek Him and He will reveal to your where you have failed to be sacrificial in your love. Confess those failures and allow His Spirit to pour true love into your marriage.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗