Jesus calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself,” and what closer neighbor do you have than the spouse who shares your bed each night? Loving your husband is something wives need to do not only on special occasions like Valentine’s Day and wedding anniversaries, but every minute of every hour of every day, all year long.
On this week’s podcast, we’re looking at 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing how what it says about love affects how we communicate love to our spouse. You’ll find a more detailed outline of the podcast in the post following today’s show notes.
- “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” – Titus 2:3-5
- “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
- “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” – Luke 6:41-42
- “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.” – I Corinthians 13:1-2
- “In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:17
- “…We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” – 1 Corinthians 8:1
- “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.” – 1 Corinthians 13:3
- “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
- “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
- “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14
- “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant…” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
- “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
- “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:1-4
- “[Love]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.” – 1 Corinthians 13:5-6
- “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
- “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.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7-13
- Love Your Husband, Love Yourself – a compelling book for wives, no matter how long they’ve been married
- 30-day Respect Challenge – sign up for this free email series that offers tips for communicating with your husband in a way he understands and appreciates
- More Precious than Gold – a good name is of great value… how does your husband’s reputation fare in your hands?
- A Plea for Perseverance – because our most important declarations of love are not made on Ferbruary 14th, but in the days and weeks and months that follow
- Subscribe: Flanders Family Freebies -(weekly themed link lists of free resources)
- Instagram: follow @flanders_family for more great content
- Family Blog: Flanders Family Home Life (parenting tips, homeschool help, lots of free printables!)
- Marriage Blog: Loving Life at Home (encouragement in your roles as wife, mother, believer)
How to Truly Love Your Husband
Valentine’s is only a couple of days away, and everything is coming up hearts and roses, which makes today the perfect time to discuss Loving Your Husband, and what exactly God’s kind of love should look like in the context of marriage.
I’ve written extensively on this topic in my book Love Your Husband, Love Yourself but for today’s discussion, I want to begin by noting that there are four different words used for love in the Greek New Testament:
- Storge describes familial love, like that a mother has for her child
- Eros denotes a romantic, passionate, sexual love
- Philia means brotherly affection, as between equals or friends
- Agape is the word the Bible uses for the kind of divine, sacrificial love God has for us
Interestingly, in Titus 2:3-5, when older women are commanded to teach the younger women to love their husbands and love their children, the root of the words translated “love” in both instances is philia. And that kind of warm affection and thoughtfulness is a key ingredient for building a happy home and bonded family, to be sure.
But when Jesus calls all of us to “love your neighbor as yourself” and when he proclaims, “As I have loved you, so should you love one another,” the word He uses for love is agape.
Agape is also the word used throughout 1 Corinthians 13, the LOVE chapter — which is what I’d like for us to go through today.
As we do, I’d encourage you to consider whether or not you are living up to this description. Satan may tempt you to dwell on all the ways you feel your husband is falling short in this department, but don’t let your mind go there.
We need to remove the plank from our own eye before addressing the speck that is in our brother’s eye — or in the eye of our spouse, as the case may be. ( Luke 6:41-42)
God gives us a pattern for love
1 Corinthians 13 gives us ample opportunity to identify those planks. It teaches us the following truths about love:
1. Love gives substance to our words.
Verse 1 reads: “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.”
Without love, our words are hollow. Empty. Devoid of meaning.
If this passage had been written in the 21st century, it might read, “If I’m all smiles and sugar and speak glowing praise for my spouse in social media posts and reels, but I treat him with contempt when I’m offline and the cameras are no longer rolling, then the very sound of my voice (or the sight of my Instagram feed) becomes intensely irritating and painful.”
I can tell my husband, “I Love You” all I want, but unless my actions underscore and support my words, he’ll have a hard time believing I speak the truth.
2. Love gives meaning to our beliefs.
1 Corinthians 13:2 reads, “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.“
A modern day application of this verse might be, “If I have a shelf full of marriage books and have read and understand them all, and if I have full faith in God’s ability to transform my marriage into the one-flesh union He intended it to be, but I never bother to cultivate the kind of love He calls me to demonstrate, then I’m completely wasting my time.”
James 2:17 declares, “Faith without works is dead,” and 1 Corinthians 8:1 tells us, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”
The Living Bible translates that last verse, “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.” And it’s love that strengthens our marriage, as well.
3. Love gives purpose to our sacrifice.
The third verse of 1 Corinthians 13 reads, “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.”
Let that sink in: Sacrificial service apart from love does not profit. You can wash dishes and cook meals and clean house and fold laundry all day every day, and you can get up every hour on the hour all night long to nurse babies or care for sick children or check on an elderly parent, but if you grouse and grumble and complain about these tasks instead of doing them from a heart filled with love and compassion, then you are missing out on the joy God intends for you to take in serving others.
When it comes to sacrificial love, Jesus sets the standard: “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
That old acrostic that spells JOY (Jesus – Others – You) got it right. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
And in John 13:14, He bids us to follow His example: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Which brings us to the next point…
4. Love improves our behavior toward others.
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous…”
Back when we were first married and living on a shoestring budget, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I suggested he just give me a pretty Christmas ornament. I knew he could get a really nice one at Hobby Lobby for $2 or $3, especially if he used one of those 40% off coupons they used to publish weekly in the Sunday paper.
But instead Doug went to Hallmark and paid ten times that price for a Precious Moments collector’s ornament. And he has continued to do the same thing every Christmas since. So now, 36 years’ worth of those sweet little porcelain ornaments can (and do) fill their own Christmas tree – a little slimline tree I put up in the corner of our bedroom every year.
It looks so pretty there that I hate taking it down after Christmas is over. So this year, I didn’t. Instead, I swapped out the Precious Moments ornaments for a bunch of red and white hearts and have been enjoying a Valentine’s tree for the past few weeks.
Most of the heart ornaments the children and I made in the past, but I added some cute little paper hearts with the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 on them: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Etc.
They serve as a beautiful reminder that true love affects the way we treat others. It improves our behavior toward one another.
In John 13:35, Jesus says it is by our LOVE that everybody will know we are His disciples. That kind of love is demonstrable in the way we treat those around us. And the same is true within marriage.
When I treat my husband with patience, kindness, and admiration, I am demonstrating the fact I love him. Such virtues are characteristic of love.
But the contrapositive is also true. If I’m impatient or unkind toward my husband, it is evidence that I do not love him – at least not in the way that Jesus calls me to love in this passage and many others.
So take inventory: Are you behaving in a loving way toward your spouse? Or in a way that indicates you really don’t love him?
If your interactions are marked by impatience or frustrated annoyance, if you snap at him irritably or act put out with him or use your words to tear him down or ridicule him, then you are in sin and need to repent and – in God’s strength and through His empowering grace – bring your behavior in line with what the Bible says is characteristic of love. Including our next point…
5. Love is rooted in humility.
Verse 4 continues, “love does not brag and is not arrogant…”
Pride and arrogance are the polar opposites of love and compassion. Pride is inwardly focused: It’s self-centered, self-promoting, self-absorbed, and selfishly motivated. But love is outwardly focused: it concerns itself with the welfare and well-being of others.
That’s why Paul admonishes us, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:1-4)
Which dovetails nicely with my next point:
6. Love puts others first.
Verse 5 tells us “[love] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered…”
Love doesn’t harbor grudges or nurse resentments. It never gives bitterness an opportunity to take root. Love doesn’t turn a cold shoulder or subject anyone to the silent treatment. It keeps no record of wrongs. It doesn’t keep score, nor is it easily offended. Love forgives freely.
Can the same thing be said of you in the way you relate to your husband? How many marriages have been destroyed by a bitter and unforgiving spirit?
7. Love alters the way we think.
In 1 Corinthians 13:6, we learn that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”
Have you ever been around somebody who is given to gossip? They seem to take great delight in airing the shortcomings of others. They can’t seem to be happy unless they’re stabbing somebody in the back and clicking their tongues and raising their eyebrows at the moral failure of another person.
Sadly, I’ve known women who, every time they get together, it is to malign their husbands and try to outdo one another with stories of whatever idiotic thing he did last.
I’m not talking about a wife who is trying to deal with a serious failure on the part of her spouse and is seeking the help of an advisor or discretely asking a trusted friend for counsel and prayer. I definitely believe there is a place for that in grave situations.
Rather, I’m talking about a woman who takes pleasure in airing her husband’s dirty laundry and ridiculing him in front of her friends or making him to out to be an idiot or a baffoon and seeking attention and sympathy from others at his expense. This kind of woman would be disappointed if her husband’s behavior actually changed, because then she would have nothing to grouse about behind his back.
That’s what it means to rejoice in unrighteousness. Love doesn’t do that. Instead, love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). “Rejoicing in the truth” means taking pleasure in the opposite of unrighteousness. It means love delights in virtue and faith and goodness. It builds up and encourages and shares the good things instead of highlighting the bad.
Love focuses its attention and dwells on whatever is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and excellent and praiseworthy (as Philippians 4:8 instructs all of us to do).
8. Love endures to the very end.
True love never stops loving. 1 Corinthians 13:7-9 bears out this fact. It tells us that love “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.”
So love and keep on loving. Love perseveres, whether it is ever reciprocated or not. Don’t wait until your spouse loves you with the love of Christ before offering such love to him.
Jesus commands you to love your neighbor as yourself, and you will one day answer to him concerning how faithfully you followed his command and example. You can’t make your personal obedience contingent on somebody else’s performance.
God doesn’t give partial credit for good intentions. Telling him, “Well, I WOULD have loved my husband the way you commanded if he’d have shown me that kind of love. But he didn’t, so I guess that means I’m off the hook, right?” Wrong.
9. Love ultimately leads to more intimate understanding.
Paul wraps up this great chapter with 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 , “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.”
Isn’t that the kind of love we all should aspire to cultivate toward our husband? Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year?
More Biblical Marriage Encouragement
The Word of God is full of wisdom for every facet of life, but we’ve found it especially helpful in building a happy, healthy marriage. For a fascinating look at how science has confirmed the superiority of God’s design, check out my book Love Your Husband/Love Yourself.