For the next few weeks, Gayla and I will share some reflections on how 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible’s famous “love chapter,” applies to marriage. Of course those rich words from Scripture have application to all relationships, not just marriage. But this is a marriage blog after all, so we will focus on how to apply the words to the unique relationship of husband and wife.
The chapter begins with a reminder that love is indispensable:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3)
The Bible says that if you don’t love, it doesn’t matter if your words can move the masses. If you don’t love, it doesn’t matter that you have all the answers. If you don’t love, it doesn’t matter that you are so full of faith you can make mountains do jumping jacks. If you don’t love, it doesn’t matter if you lead the nation in charitable contributions. If you don’t love, it doesn’t matter if you are so committed to Christ that you let yourself be burned alive for him. The passage gives us a mathematical equation: supernatural speaking ability + profound spiritual insight + extreme intelligence + powerful faith + generous self sacrifice – love = zero.
Now for the marriage application: the most important thing for you to do in your marriage is to love your spouse.
OK, I know what you are thinking. “Thanks for that brilliant insight, Captain Obvious.”
But how often do you ask God to help you love your spouse more/better? How often is “love my spouse” one of the top items on your to-do list? How would you honestly say you are doing at loving your spouse with a love that is patient, kind, free from envy, humble, and all of the other facets of love in 1 Corinthians 13?
According to our Scripture, if you are an A+ communicator but don’t really love your spouse, you are just making noise. If you are such a relationship expert that Gary Chapman has you on speed dial but you don’t really love your spouse, you are a big zero. If you are the world’s best parent/employee/church member/pogo sticking mime/whatever but don’t really love your spouse, it isn’t worth anything.
None of it matters if you don’t get the love part right. It might be obvious but it is true: The most important thing for you to do in your marriage is to love your spouse.