A Wedding Message

The institution of Marriage must be upheld all across the globe, in all walks of life, as God defined it. Between a man and a woman, intertwined and full of love in spite of life’s ups and downs.
Maurice has given an excellent message for those entering the exciting, challenging, and wonderful realm of Marriage. In this message he has also given, to those of us who are already [traveling, experiencing, feeling our way along, coping, enjoying, cringing, still giggling, etc.], an awesome and excellent reminder of what LOVE is and how it should affect our marriage.
I hope you enjoy, are encouraged, and will share with others this timely piece entitled…

A Wedding Message From 1 Corinthians 13

by Maurice Smith on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 10:30am ·

Author’s Note. I’ve never done this before. I’m sharing my notes for a wedding I’m doing this evening for a young couple. The bride’s parents are part of our house church network (I generally don’t do weddings for people outside of our house church network). For some reason I feel as though there may be some of you who need to be encouraged in your marriages. May you find the encouragement you need. Every blessing, Maurice

In the early 1980s folk singer John Denver wrote a love ballad which he recorded as a duet with very young opera star named Placido Domingo. It’s entitled “Perhaps Love”. You can find it on YouTube and it is quite beautiful to listen to. The lyrics are as follows:

Perhaps love is like a resting place

A shelter from the storm

It exists to give you comfort

It is there to keep you warm

And in those times of trouble

When you are most alone

The memory of love will bring you home.

 

Perhaps love is like a window

Perhaps an open door

It invites you to come closer

It wants to show you more

And even if you lose yourself

And don’t know what to do

The memory of love will see you through.

 

Oh, Love to some is like a cloud

To some as strong as steel

For some a way of living

For some a way to feel

And some say love is holding on

And some say letting go

And some say love is everything

And some say they don’t know.

 

Perhaps love is like the ocean

Full of conflict, full of pain

Like a fire when it’s cold outside

Thunder when it rains

If I should live forever

And all my dreams come true

My memories of love will be of you.

Confusion About Love

Two things stand out to me when I listen to this ballad and reflect on the words. First, it is very beautiful and well done. Second, it is very confused. And that’s my point this evening. We live in a world which believes in the idea of love, but is very confused about what love is. As Christians, when we open the pages of Scripture we discover that God does not share our confusion concerning the nature of genuine love. When God speaks about love, He speaks with clarity and authority, because God is love. Listen, for just a moment, to what God says about love, from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Now, in the few brief minutes I have with you, I can’t begin to tell you everything this passage has to say about love from God’s perspective. Books have been written on this passage, so I’m not going to try to tell you everything I see here. I simply want to offer you four key thoughts which I hope you will be able to take with you as you begin your journey into biblical marriage.

1. Love Is Indispensable (vs. 1-3) 

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

When the Apostle Paul wrote these words, he was writing to a group of Christians who were in the process of destroying themselves and their church due to an inability to get along. The emotional high and adrenaline of their new-found faith had worn off. Now they were faced with the day-to-day reality of the messiness of life together. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul understood that if these people did not learn how to love one another as God loved each of them, they would never last. Whether you are in Church, or in the bedroom, Love is indispensable to everything you do. Without it, nothing else is sufficient. With 35 years of marriage practice behind me, I can say with absolute confidence that you will fail each other in many ways, and you will have opportunity to ask one another’s forgiveness on countless occasions. And there are many things which you can make up for in marriage, and you will find yourself saying something like, “Honey, let me make that up to you”. But one thing you can NEVER make up for is a lack of love.

2. Love Is An Action (vs. 4-7)

Sometimes our English translations don’t do justice to what the biblical writer is trying to communicate. For example, in verse 4, the verb “is” doesn’t appear in the Greek. Our English versions say “Love is Patient”. While that is an acceptable translation, the Greek word “patient” is a verb. The verse says something closer to, Love practices patience by being slow to anger (makrothumeo). When I was in college, my college pastor had a beautiful daughter who broke all of the college boys hearts by marrying an airline pilot. They moved to Chicago where sub-zero temperatures are common in winter. During their first winter there he called home to check on his bride, who informed him that the car wouldn’t start on an unusually cold Chicago morning. “Did you check the antifreeze,” he asked. “What’s antifreeze?” she responded. Love practices patience by being slow to anger when your new bride doesn’t just forget the antifreeze, but doesn’t even know what antifreeze is! Our English versions say “Love is Kind”. But the Greek word translated “kind” is a verb, and  says something closer to Love performs acts of kindness (chresteuomai) and bestows thoughtful words and deeds upon others while avoiding retaliation. In other words, love says something like, “Honey, don’t worry about it. I’ll call ‘Triple A’ and have it towed to a shop. It’s my fault for not checking it before I left”.  Paul says, Love doesn’t behave “disgracefully, dishonorably, indecently” or in any way which would embarrass your spouse. It doesn’t wait for an opportunity  to tell your friends, “Guess what, my stupid wife froze our car because she didn’t know what antifreeze is”. Love is an action which sometimes consists of what you DON’T do or say. Next, Paul tells us that  Love doesn’t allow itself to be provoked, or as JB Phillips says in his translation, “Love is not touchy”. Love has a thick skin and doesn’t allow the person being loved to push its buttons, even when they say “What’s antifreeze?”. According to Paul, Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. The Greek word here (logizomai) is an accounting term. Love isn’t an accountant. The secret to Love and a good marriage is a bad memory, especially when it comes to antifreeze and frozen engine blocks. Love understands how important it is to forgive and to forget, just as God told Jeremiah He would do when He said, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). Finally, Paul declares that Love never fails (ekpipto). In classical Greek this particular word was used to describe shipwrecked sailors, cast alone on a foreign shore without hope of rescue. This verse is a double-edged knife. It reminds us that God will never fail us. He will never leave us alone, abandoned with no hope of rescue. He will never do that, and He expects us not to do it to one another. Never leave your spouse abandoned and alone with no hope. This isn’t about physical abandonment or separation. It’s about something worse. It’s that emotional abandonment which leaves the other person shipwrecked and alone with their fears and their struggles and no one who cares enough to share them. The greatest love you can show your spouse is to say, “I love you, I’m here for you whatever happens, and how can I pray for you, my love”. That’s how Jesus loves each of us, and that’s how He expects us to love one another.

3. Love Separates Children From Adults (vs. 8-12)

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

Welcome to adulthood. To love one another as husband and wife as God loves us is to graduate from childhood to adulthood. Marriage is one of several calls which God gives His children to do away with childish things, to accept responsibility and to grow up into adulthood. It is time to put away childish things. It is time to embrace the practical realities of God’s love and to become a man and a husband; to become a woman and a wife.

4. Love Challenges Us To Remember What Matters (vs. 13)

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Writing for Focus on the Family, Christian author Ken Gire summed up the importance of biblical love this way:

“When asked what the secret of living the Christian life was, Augustine replied: ‘Love God, and do as you please.’ The thought of that is both liberating and confining. Liberating because it means we are free to do whatever we want. Confining because it means our love for God sets the boundaries of that freedom. It guides every thought, every action, every conversation. And it does so every minute of the day, every day of our life. Instead of a Byzantine complexity of laws to regulate every detail of our life, we have only one. The love of God. When that is at the heart of who we are, it changes what we do. And it changes something else. How we will be judged. St. John of the Cross once said that ‘at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving.’ As we look back over our day, what we have done is not as important as how we have done it. Better to do little with much love than much with little love. For without love, whatever we do will be dismissed with a judicial wave of heaven’s hand as just so many trivial pursuits (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).”

As you step forward now into biblical marriage my prayer for you is that you will learn to call upon our Lord Jesus Christ together, not merely embracing His Salvation, but asking Him  to fill you with the Love of God, shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit and manifested toward one another in daily acts of patience, kindness and practical love.

Heavenly Father, we commend to you (Names Omitted). As they take this step of love and obedience into biblical marriage, we ask that you bless them with your favor, fill them with your Holy Spirit, cause your love to be shed abroad in their hearts, and grant them supernatural love for one another that far exceeds their human ability. May their love for one another never fail then, as they daily call upon your love which never fails. These things we ask in the name of your Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I would like to thank Maurice for the permission he gave to re-post this message. In his words, “David, feel free to post. My goal is to encourage others in their marriages.”
I hope this has encouraged you as much as it has me. I look forward to comments and others sharing this as well.

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