Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
—I Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)
Any relationship is hard without unconditional love. Marriage is especially hard without the kind of love that is willing to lay down its life. Yet marriage is often the relationship where we hurt those we don’t mean to hurt. Misunderstandings seem to happen most with those we care about—with those who know our weaknesses. I know this from personal experience.
For several months my husband has taken care of me because of an illness, and I have become dependent on him for daily needs. I have been frustrated by my lack of ability. He has been patient when, at times, I’ve not been. Neither one of us is perfect, and we both make mistakes. The reason our marriage is still alive after fifty-one years is forgiveness. Marriage without forgiveness is a constant battle of wills. Unforgiveness kills any relationship.
Jesus Christ gave the ultimate love on the Cross when He bought our total forgiveness. He thought more highly of us than Himself. His love sets us free from selfishness. We choose to love the other person more than ourselves. Putting another's need above our own needs changes our attitude. We see circumstances and problems from the other person's perspective. Mercy flows when our needs are not our first concern.
The unconditional love of Christ has to flow for a relationship to flourish mutually. Both people in a relationship need to be patient and kind and not demand their own way. Both need to watch their words because they have the power to destroy. And no one needs to keep a record of things that have happened. Forgiveness, just as Christ forgives us, is the only way a marriage or any other relationship will remain resilient.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NLT). The love of Christ never gives up. He never loses faith in us. He always believes in us. His love endures, no matter what problems arise. You can't earn His love. It's given without cost. Neither should our love have to be earned. It is given freely without requiring payment in return. There should be no, "I'll do something for you if you’ll do something for me.”
When we understand the love of Jesus and our relationship with Him, it is much easier to offer the love He has given. We know what we mean to Him and that He values us above anything else. Isn't that what each person yearns to have? A love that values them above anything else?
Grace is the essence of any healthy relationship. Jesus extended grace to us. It was His decision to die for us. It’s also our decision to extend grace and be willing to hurt for someone else. We have received unmerited favor. Jesus loved us, not because of anything we have done, but because of who He is. And our love should be the same. We love just because Jesus loved us.
If we have the strongest faith that can move mountains and don’t love others, we’re nothing. We choose to forgive as we’ve been forgiven and to love as we’ve been loved. When I choose the love of Christ in my relationship with my husband or anyone else, His love defines who I am. And that is what I hope will live in me—His love that claimed no rights. When I live what He died to give me, I know the joy of giving. The grace of Jesus flows in me.
Lord, forgive me for ever putting myself first. Forgive me for demanding my own way. I find in giving that I receive and in forgiving that I'm forgiven. I'm so thankful your love died for me—your mercy forgave me—and your grace continually changes me.
©2020 Lynn Lacher