The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39). The latter cannot be any more applicable than in the family, and especially for the husband and wife. The husband is to love his wife (Eph. 5:25). The wife is to love her husband (Titus 2:4). This is appropriate for those who are supposed to spend their lives with one another.
When we look at the principles of love in the Bible, we realize they can be transferred to a marriage. If this is done, then the relationship will improve and become sweeter as time goes by. The couple can rest assured that the other will be there for them, during good times and bad.
Consider the following biblical principles of love in light of the marriage relationship.
“A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). The husband and wife will not be wishy-washy in their love for one another. As friends, the closest friends, they will love one another when things are going well and when disaster strikes—or when everything is “humdrum.”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other…” (Matt. 6:24). The love of the husband and wife will be singular. There will be no room for another. A wandering eye and straying affections undercut a healthy relationship and will eventually bring it down. In marriage, there is room for only one true love.
“But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Lk. 6:27-35). Read the entire section. No, we are not equating spouses as enemies. Rather, the principle of these verses. Love will be forgiving, giving, patient, and unconditional. There are rough times in all marriages. If we are commanded to love our enemies and those who mistreat us, then can we not also love a mate who is a blessing from God?
Who is a true neighbor? “He who [shows] mercy…” (Lk. 10:25-37). Jesus taught that loving our neighbor is essential. He illustrated true love of neighbor by the parable of the Good Samaritan. He helped one in need. Husbands and wives will be charitable to one another. They will help each other in times of sickness as well as when going through struggles. A husband unmoved by the hardship of his wife is unfit and needs to repent.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16). Love is sacrificial. The husband will need to sacrifice of his time and material desires to meet the needs and desires of his wife. This may require him to give up the big game or his annual hunting trip. A wife will sacrifice as well. She might give up those new curtains in order that her husband can get that set of books he has been eyeing (preachers send a note of thanks to steven at deatonmedia dot com).
“Owe no one anything except to love one another… ‘You shall not commit adultery’…” (Rom. 13:8-10). Love in the marriage will refrain from sin and harming the other. It goes without saying that adultery does untold damage to a marriage. Love will prevent the husband or wife from sinning in this way. It is only when love for self exceeds love for your spouse that such a sin could be committed.
“Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love” (Rom. 14:15). The husband and wife will not do that which is destructive to the other. The action may be innocent enough in-and-of itself, but trouble the other because of a bad experience or some irrational fear. To prey on this is sinful. The “quirks” of spouses need to be respected. For instance, if the wife has a great fear of flying, the husband should not push her into it.
“Love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:1). Husbands and wives should work to build one another up. This is true in spiritual and non-spiritual matters. They should praise the other for their looks, intelligence, wisdom, patience—whatever is true and appropriate. Give a kind comment about any improvement, whether adding something positive to his or her character or eliminating a destructive trait or habit. Couples especially need to edify one another in the faith. Husbands and wives have a duty and self-interest in helping the other get to heaven. The benefits are far-reaching and long-lasting.
Finally, notice three other passages that discuss love: Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2, 25. They all deal with the fact that love is sacrificial. Emphasis is given in Ephesians 5:25 that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. His love, as the other passages show, was sacrificial. He gave His life for the church. He put its interest above His own. Husbands and wives are to do this. Hence, the underlying foundation of love is elevating the needs and desires of the other above your own.
If husbands and wives will follow the biblical principles of love, their marriages will be a tremendous blessing to them. As they put their faith in Christ and dwell together, they will be well equipped to overcome any trial. Too, their hope for heaven will grow as the days go by.