The Expository Files.

How To Save Your Marriage

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

It's simple, really. I do not have to write a large volume, followed by a sequel, on all the details of establishing a good marriage. Although the shelves are stocked full of wonderful books on this subject (and I have spent a small fortune buying them to read, teach and pass on), the real solution to creating a haven that is "home sweet home" is found right under our nose. I Corinthians 13:1-7. That's it. I am fully convinced, even after pouring through all the great books that deal with psychology, sexual intimacy, and the many other facets of a marriage made in heaven, that Paul's simple instructions on agape are the heart and soul of all relationships. Hear me out and I'll explain why.

The word agape (love) describes the very nature of God (I Jn. 4:8). Jesus told Philip that if he had seen Him, then he had seen God (Jn. 14:8-9). Thus, what we see in Jesus is the "express image" of God (Heb. 1:3). Jesus Christ was and is the very essence of agape. The Father and Son had a perfect relationship because they both exemplified agape in their nature ("I and My Father are one" - Jn. 10:30). That being true, all we can know to have a great relationship with others is to put on the character of Jesus.

Now, listen up men. You, as husband, are to agape your wife just as Christ loved His bride (Eph. 5:25). How, you may ask, did He do that? I Corinthians 13:1-7 is your answer. Learn that text, apply it to your marriage, and you will have all the ingredients for an extraordinary relationship with your bride. Paul, wanting to draw a portrait of agape so that all the Corinthians would see it clearly, chose Jesus to pose as his subject. All 15 traits the apostle used to describe love are nothing more or less than a perfect portrait, a masterpiece, of the man Christ Jesus. By necessary inference, it also should describe those who are His disciples, for we are to be just like Him (Jn. 13:15 "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done for you").

Every description Paul uses is the artist's brush stroke of Christ, who demonstrated perfect love to us. Read your marriage into this text. With each trait, examine yourself to make sure you are bringing this into your relationship. Don't read, "Love is patient..." but "Christ was patient with me, thus I will be patient with her / him." Go ahead, read each one in that fashion, making the disciplined effort to fully understand what it means.

  1. Patient: "I will take, take, take - determined to be lonnnnng-tempered with my mate"

  2. Kind: "I will give, give, give - always looking for ways to put my mate at ease"

  3. No Envy: "He / She must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30)

  4. No Parading Self: "I will never think (or say) of myself more highly than I ought" (Rom 12:3). "I will never play one-up-manship on my mate."

  5. No Puffing Up: "I will kill Pride in my heart, it is the arch-enemy of my marriage"

  6. No Rudeness: "I will truly care what my mate thinks of me and my behavior"

  7. No Self-Seeking: "I will pursue vigorously what is best for her / him, not myself"

  8. No Provoked Anger: "I will not be irritated or live in self-defense, but will let my soft answer turn away wrath"

  9. No Evil Thinking: "I will be a bad accountant, losing the ledger book of my mate's faults and unkind deeds"

  10. No Rejoicing In Sin: "I will weep, never taking satisfaction from my mate's sin"

  11. Rejoice In Truth: "I will be happiest when my mate is abiding in God's truth"

  12. Bear All Things: "I will do everything humanly possible to protect my mate from hurt, hoping to save his / her soul"

  13. Believe All Things: "I will put the best possible motive on my mate's actions"

  14. Hope All Things: "I will never accept failure as final from my mate. I will always believe that God will use him / her for good.

  15. Endure All Things: "Even against all odds, no matter how dark the cloud, I will never stop loving him / her."

Hang this on your mirror. Read it daily. It might just save your marriage.

By Rick Lanning  
From Expository Files 4.9; September 1997