Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God, if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.1 John 4:11-12 ESV
When we love an unbeliever, or someone who’s faith is small, marriage can be most challenging. It’s hard to love someone who doesn’t know how to demonstrate biblical love back to us, or someone who doesn’t desire to love sacrificially. Left alone, we are a self-promoting, self-righteous, self-focused people, and few things magnify this truth like pairing an unbeliever with a believer. It’s hard enough when God begins to chisel away at your own selfish heart, but being in a relationship with someone who is doing nothing to change those traits is exceptionally challenging. Arguments are focused on what they deserve, and we humble ourselves over and over because that’s what our God calls us to do. In these most difficult moments, we fantasize what it would be like to be married to another believer, to be in a marriage where both people know how to sacrificially love well. Then we dangerously begin to rationalize that this marriage isn’t honoring to God because the other person isn’t a believer. We cite our foolish decision to marry in the first place, and we use Scripture to justify ending the marriage.
But God. He is sovereign over your broken marriage, even when you’re married to someone who turns their back on God, and He places us in these marriages for a purpose. My husband and I were unbelievers when we wed, but God had a plan. He saved me many years before He saved my husband, and God still had a plan. If we had walked away from our marriage in those early years, we would never know the love God intended for us to know. He has a plan for your marriage, too.
When we love a difficult person, God’s love abides in us. He is most evident in our actions where it’s hardest to love. In our own power, we have the ability to love when it’s easy, but when we love where it’s hard, it is God who abides in us and it is His love that is perfected. Our loving actions breathe out the very Spirit of God when we truly lay down what we want, and love the way God calls us to love. We long to be loved the way we love others, but loving our spouse sacrificially calls us to love them the way He loves us.
If your desire is for your unbelieving spouse to accept Jesus as Savior, or for your spouse to grow in their small faith, then you need to love them with your actions. Over and over again. Demonstrating love is how you bring the very presence of God in front of someone, it’s how His love is perfected. Love is the gospel in action. Far too often, we try to bring unbelievers to the faith by pointing a finger at all they do that’s wrong. Few people have come to an understanding of the need for a Savior at the end of a shaking finger, but many have come as a result of experiencing biblical love. Perhaps you’ve already been doing this, and feel like it’s already been far too long. Loving sacrificially means continuing to love far longer than we believe our hearts are capable. God didn’t set a time limit on His love for us, we cannot set one on our marriage.
God shows up where sacrificial love is demonstrated. Stay in the fight and keep bringing the presence of God into your marriage by continuing to show biblical love. Trust in His plan for your marriage, and He will show up.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗