Love Is Tenacious and Committed
About the Guest
- "Making a Safety Plan" from Is It My Fault by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. http://justinholcomb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/IsItMyFaultAppendix2.pdf
- ARTICLE: Are You in an Abusive Relationship? by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (9 min. read) https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/archived-content/miscellaneous/are-you-in-an-abusive-relationship/
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Bob Lepine talks about the qualities of biblical love from 1 Corinthians 13. Learn how to bear and endure all things when things feel unbearable. And we’ll hear how to avoid enabling wrong behavior.
Love Is Tenacious and Committed
Bob: When the Bible says “Love bears all things,” it’s not saying we are to remain silent when there are challenges or problems in our relationship. Here is Ann Wilson.
Ann: I know that, for me, there was this fine line. When Dave and I were struggling in our ten years, I stopped bringing things up. I guess some people could have looked at me and thought, “Oh, she’s bearing all things”; but there was something going on in my heart that was becoming resentful and bitter. Because of that, and because I wasn’t taking it to Jesus/talking to Him about it, or talking to friends that could help and talk to Dave, what happened was my heart started to shut down; and I had nothing.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 31st. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. What does it look like for a husband and wife to bear all things together and to love one another that way in marriage? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, for years, we’ve talked on this program/we’ve talked at Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways about the D-word; right? You know what the D-word is?
Dave: I’m guessing, “Divorce.”
Bob: Yes. We have, for years, said that that’s a word that ought to be out of our vocabulary when we get married—not because there aren’t circumstances that may arise, where we regrettably have to look at that as a possibility—but because a lot of couples, in the midst of marital conflict, find themselves just saying, “Well, maybe, it’d be better if we just never had gotten married.”
Ann: Yes; they just throw it out there as a threat.
Dave: We said that.
Bob: Did you?
Dave: First year of marriage—very hurtful—
Dave: —we could both take you to the moment it was said; and afterwards, when we calmed down and started to talk through it, we said, “We will never ever say that again.” And we haven’t in 40 years.
Bob: What was it about the hurtfulness of that word that caused you to say, “We’ve got to take this out of our vocabulary”? Do you remember?
Ann: Yes; it caused incredible insecurity and made me really fearful that we weren’t going to make it. It started to make me guard my heart—
Ann: —and protect it.
Bob: When a husband or a wife says, “Well, maybe, we should just get a divorce,” the other person hears, “There could be conflict that comes along that I will bail on.”
Bob: Until you go back and say: “It was wrong for me to say that, and I won’t say that again,” and “That’s not what I want,” and “I’m going to be here no matter what,”—see, that’s what we said in the vows; right?
Bob: We said,—
Dave: It’s a promise.
Bob: —“For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness/health, ‘til death parts us.” We made a covenant that we’d be here for one another in the midst of that.
We’ve been talking this month about love and what it is—
Ann: —from your new book.
Bob: —from a book—
Bob: —that I’ve written called Love Like You Mean It that looks at 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. It takes the first seven verses and says, “Let’s understand better what love is.” One of the things the Bible says about love is that love doesn’t quit—it hangs in; it perseveres.
Remember, we started this conversation by saying: “Love is long-suffering. Love is patient.” This definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 comes back, at the end, and says, “Love bears all things”; or actually, in the original language, it says: “Love always bears, always believes, always hopes, always endures; love never fails.”
We look at our love, which is disposable. We wake up on the wrong side of the bed; we don’t feel it anymore. You have couples, who come and say, “I just lost my feelings for the other person.” Well, that’s a throw-away view of love. You may have lost your feelings. Let’s see if we can find them again, because you are committed to—
Ann: Love is more than a feeling.
Bob: That’s right. And bearing all things, and believing all things, and hoping all things, and enduring all things—this is what the Bible calls us to as a part of what it means to love another person.
Dave: But it does sound like—I mean, if you—I mean, it’s a beautiful statement about love; and you’re like, “Oh, yes; oh, yes”; but then, when you’re in a marriage or you’re in a relationship, and you’re supposed to bear all things—
Dave: —or always bear—
Dave: —and your spouse is doing things that are hurting you—
Bob: —are unbearable—
Bob: —that feel unbearable; yes.
Dave: I mean, there is a part of you thinking, “Oh, to be a good Christian, I’m just supposed to lie down and take it.”
Dave: Is that what Paul is saying?
Bob: No; that’s not what Paul is saying. The four words—bears all things, believes, hopes, endures—the two on the outside: bear and endure—those go together. The two on the inside—believe and hope—those go together. Bearing and enduring really tie together. “Love bears all things” means that, in the midst of pain/in the midst of things that seem unbearable, two things have to happen.
First of all, we have to go to our source of strength in those moments and draw strength. We can’t bear what’s going on, but Jesus can bear it in us. The second thing it means is we’ve got to figure out how to dial back what is unbearable. When we say, “This is unbearable,” it’s typically because somebody is sinning against us in a relationship. Well, it’s not loving to just allow somebody to continue to sin against you; you’re not loving them if you just enable the dysfunction of their personality.
Ann: Break that down for us because let’s say you have someone that’s—her husband is cheating on her over and over—does she just bear that?
Bob: Well, no; so if she’s aware that he is cheating on her, here is what she says. She says: “I am bearing the weight of this; but I’m not going to continue to enable you in this behavior. We’re going to bring some accountability.” I’m going to go to you and say, “This is not acceptable behavior.”
I would get other people involved; I would get some of his friends. I’d get church leaders and elders to go to him and say: “This is not how you’re to live,” and [the spouse to say] “To continue to live like this/to support you living like this is not a loving act toward you. Because I love you, I’m going to bear what you’ve already done—the shame and the scar—you’ve already hurt me. I’m going to bear that now, but I’m not going to enable you to continue that behavior.” That’s where there is a difference between bearing the weight of something and just enabling sinful behavior.
Enduring—now, we’re talking about going the distance with something. Enduring means that: “I’m here for the long run”; but “here for the long run” doesn’t mean I’m here for the long run, just to be trampled on, because it’s not right for you/it’s not good for you to be a trample-er. “I’m going to try to help you; it’s loving for me to help you get over your trample problem.”
Dave: Yes; and I think you’re definition of bearing and enabling—that’s a very clarifying understanding—because think of the other side of this. I’m sure some listeners are going right there right now: “What if my spouse is abusive?—physically, emotionally, sexually. Bearing means what? And enabling means what?”
Bob: Yes; so enabling means that you are not doing things to protect you and others in that situation. You are enabling; you are putting your spouse in a position, where the abuse can continue easily.
Bearing means: “I’m going to bear with you the pain and the shame and what we’re going through—I’m going to bear the weight of this—but I’m going to bring weight to bear so that you can break free from this sin pattern in your life that is crippling you and crippling our marriage.”
Dave: So if a—and I’ll just say it’s a man abusing his wife—it could be the other way around.
Dave: If a woman is listening right now, her husband is coming home in three hours, she is going to be—probably, just like it was last night, he’s going to hit her—what should she do right now?
Bob: She should get to safety right now. She needs to get to a place—
Ann: —with her children.
Bob: —with her children, where she can be safe.
Hopefully, she’s in a church; and she can call people in the church and say, “I need help; I need to come to your place.” There are probably places in your town/in your city that protect women; because sometimes, if a husband comes home and he is enraged, your friends may not want to house you; because he may come in and try to harm them at the same time too, especially if he has firearms or something like this.
So yes, you need a plan. I’d encourage you to go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ve got an article on the website today that will tell you how you develop a plan to get to safety if you are experiencing abuse in a relationship and, then, begin to develop a strategy to try to help your abusive spouse get free from the abuse that they are in.
Now, here is what you need to know—and we’ve talked about abuse many times on FamilyLife Today—what you need to know is that abuse is a deep-rooted sin in a man or a woman’s life. This does not come out easily. Oftentimes, an abuser, right after the abuse, feels very remorseful for what they’ve done. They say, “Oh, I’m so sorry; I don’t want to do this again.”
This sin has got to be rooted out over a long period of time, and you need to not just wait until they come with sorrow. There is a difference between godly sorrow and genuine repentance. You need spiritual protection in your life to make sure you are getting safety from your husband before you’d ever trust that you could be back in that relationship again.
Ann: And that spouse would really need help/therapy and to really dig deep into that.
Ann: You also give an example of Steve and Christy.
Bob: Yes; this is a couple who—they’d been a part of our church—and I noticed that they kind of quit coming for a while. I remember getting a call from Christy; and she said, “I found text messages.” As it turned out, Steve had been having an affair for about a year. Here she is in a crisis point; she said, “What do I do?” I said, “Well, the first thing you do is you make sure, again, that you are safe in this situation.” She said, “I don’t feel threatened.” I said, “But you don’t enable this kind of ongoing behavior on Steve’s part.”
I contacted Steve. At first, he sat down and he said, “I’ll do whatever; I want to save my marriage.” I went away hopeful; but a couple weeks later, he was back in the pattern that he’d been in for a year. Christy, in the midst of this, her heart was: “I want my marriage back; I want my husband back. I want to move to a place of healing.” What she was saying is: “This has hurt me deeply and profoundly. He has violated the marriage vows in a profound way. I can bear that if we can get to healing.”
With Steve and Christy, we had hope for a while; and then pretty soon, he started ghosting and wouldn’t respond to text messages. We had to sit down with Christy and say, “For your safety/for the safety of your children—for your financial safety—you need the protection that divorce will provide you.” She didn’t want to get a divorce; she wanted her marriage to be reconciled. Even after the divorce was final, she kept hoping that God might do a work and restore her husband and restore their marriage.
I think what she was modeling for me is what this verse is talking about. She wasn’t modeling: “I’ve been hurt, and I can never love you again. I can/I want nothing to do with you. You’ve hurt…”—that’s not bearing all things. That’s saying, “My hurt is bigger than your sin; and now we’re in conflict, and we can never get there.”
The Bible says, “No; let’s pursue righteousness; let’s pursue reconciliation”; but that reconciliation has got to be anchored in truth and righteousness. Right before it says “Love bears all things,” it says “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.”
Ann: I think this is so good; but I also think, for me, there is this fine line. When Dave and I were struggling in our ten years, I stopped bringing things up. I guess some people could have looked at me and thought, “Oh, she’s bearing all things”; but there was something going on in my heart that was becoming resentful and bitter. Because of that, and because I wasn’t taking it to Jesus/talking to Him about it, or talking to friends who could help and talk to Dave, what happened was my heart started to shut down; and I had nothing.
Ann: I think that is that fine line of bearing all things but also taking it continually to the Father: of asking the Father to not let your heart grow hard or bitter, to having friends that are praying and lifting you up. Do you guys see that?—how that can shift into, “I’ve got nothing, and I—
Ann: —“don’t care anymore”?
Bob: Yes; all of a sudden, it’s—and I understand the weakness of saying, “I’ve got nothing to give anymore,”—that’s really, when this passage concludes, it concludes by saying “Love never ends,”—it never fails; it never quits.
In those moments, when your reservoir of grace gets empty,—
Bob: —then what you have to do is you have to say, “Lord, fill me with fresh grace because I’m dry/because I’m empty.” When we’re not drawing grace from the Father, our heart does get dry and hard; but as long as our tank is filled up, and we’re aware that we’re recipients of God’s grace—that in spite of how we sin, He still loves us.
See, the more I think about that, the more I think about, “No matter how much I sin, God never quits loving me.”
Bob: The more I recognize that—now, I go, “Okay; if God can love me, then God, through me, can love somebody that I’ve got no love left for.”
I tell this story in the book; you’ve probably heard this story. Corrie ten Boom—who some of our listeners have probably never heard of before—but Corrie and her sister Betsie grew up in Holland during World War II. They were in their 50s; and their family hid Jews, who were hiding from the Nazis in occupied Holland.
Ann: If you haven’t read this book, you should pick it up.
Bob: —the book, The Hiding Place—it’s remarkable. They were found to be hiding Jews. They were arrested, and they were taken to the same prison camps as the Jews. Betsie and Corrie were in the Ravensbrück prison camp. In fact, it was a clerical error/a fluke that Corrie got released from the prison camp. A week later, all of the women her age, who were still alive, were sent to the gas chamber. Her sister Betsie had already passed away at that point.
Well, when the war was over, imagine, now, the horror of having been in that camp; and Corrie went around and talked about how we need to forgive others—those who have oppressed us/those who wronged us. She said one night she was speaking at a church in Munich, Germany. As she was speaking, she looked up; and there was a man in the audience. She recognized him; he had been one of the prison guards at the camp in Ravensbrück. She said, “When I saw him,”—she said—“I froze.”
After the meeting was over, he came toward her to speak to her. He looked at her; and he said, “Oh, fräulein, I thank God for your message to imagine, as you said, He has forgiven my sins.” She said, “When I saw him, I had no love for him.” She said, “I froze.” He stuck out his hand to shake mine; I could not shake his. She said, “I prayed in that moment a silent prayer.” She said, “Lord, I cannot forgive Him; I need Your forgiveness.”
As an act of obedience, she lifted her hand and stuck it out to embrace the hand of this guard, who had been—
Dave: I’m looking at—this is the last couple of pages of your book, Bob—you quote her. When I read this earlier, I thought, “Wow; so vivid how she describes it.” She said: “I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me; and as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands, and then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother,’ I cried ‘with all my heart.’ For a long moment, we grasped each other’s hands—the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
Bob: That’s remarkable; isn’t it?
Dave: It is; that’s supernatural.
Bob: It is; it’s exactly supernatural. That’s the kind of supernatural love that we’re being called to in marriage. Even when your spouse is your enemy, or appears to be your enemy, love says: “I can bear that. I can still have hope in the midst of this, because God is bigger than this. I can still believe that there is a future for us. I can endure the indignity; and I’m not going to quit, because my tank is full of grace because God has poured it into my life. I can extend it to you because of what God’s done for me.” That’s what real love looks like.
Ann: I had a woman come up to me at church, and she had tears in her eyes. She said, “Ann, it has finally happened.” I didn’t know who she was. I said, “What do you mean?” She said: “I’ve been listening to you and Dave for 20-some years. I’ve been trying to apply this to our marriage. Honestly, it was never working. My husband was not doing anything. I was angry; I was upset; I had no feelings. But we were raising our kids, so I’m like, ‘Okay; God, I’m going to stick in here. I’m going to try to do this.’”
She said, “We’ve struggled; we’ve gone up and down.” She said, “But, Ann, he still hasn’t changed; and I can honestly say, ‘I love him.’ My love for him finally has—my endurance even—has almost opened his eyes. This one day, he said, ‘How have you been able to love me all these years?’” She said, “It’s Jesus.”
Ann: I’m like, “So it’s taken 30-some years.” She said, “Yes; but what we have now is sweet.”
Bob: And that’s what we’d say to everybody in a hard situation: “Draw your strength in life from Jesus. He will give you the courage, and the power, and the resilience to stand even in hard situations.”
Again, if you’re facing abuse, get safety and protection. Don’t enable ongoing sinful patterns in your spouse’s life. You’re probably not the right person to try to correct that, so get somebody else who can help you help your spouse with whatever the sin patterns in his or her life are; but persevere; don’t give up hope; keep believing; keep bearing; keep enduring; and then keep praying; and see what God can do.
Then I’d wrap up with this—keep coming back to these verses from 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4, that says that the things we’re going through in this life—they are light and momentary afflictions. I don’t mean to minimize the pain people are going through—
Bob: —I’m not trying to diminish—some people are in real pain and agony.
The Apostle Paul, who wrote these things, had been beaten, thrown overboard; he had experienced a lot of wrong against him. He said: “These are light and momentary afflictions. They are producing in me an eternal weight of glory.” Persevering in love is a part of God’s design for us to grow us more into the image of Christ so that we can be a reflection of the love of God to the world around us.
Ann: And don’t forget Jesus sees you; He hears you; He loves you; and He always wants to speak to you, and comfort you, and fill you up. It’s not this drudgery every single day; but in the midst of the hard stuff, He’s always bringing hope.
Bob: I think, if couples could get together with other couples and do a book study on this book, I think, as they share with each other their challenges and their frustrations, I think they’d be encouraged to find out, first of all, “You’re not alone in the issues you are facing/the challenges you are facing”; and secondly, there’s hope! The Bible offers a way that we can love one another better—that’s what the book, Love Like You Mean It, is all about—looking at 1 Corinthians 13 and applying it to the marriage relationship.
I hope listeners, who find help and hope here on FamilyLife Today, will get a copy of this book; because I think you’ll find it helpful and hopeful as well. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order your copy of the book, Love Like You Mean It; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the title of the book is Love Like You Mean It.
I know we’ve got a cruise by that name—you don’t get the cruise along with the book—but you do get a serious look at 1 Corinthians 13 and how that applies to marriage. Order your copy of Love Like You Mean It, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
David Robbins, who is the president of FamilyLife® is here with us again today. Again, we’ve just got to acknowledge this passage, 1 Corinthians 13, is a challenging, convicting passage for many of us; but this is the roadmap. This is what God is calling us to as we’re called to love each other in marriage.
David: Yes; Bob, I just want to say, “Thank you.” Listening these past few days has been like pouring a bottomless jar of gospel truth over our marriages. Because of the gospel in our marriages, where there is sin, there can be forgiveness.
David: Where there is weakness, there can be strength. Where there is foolishness, we can find wisdom. Where there is bondage, we can find hope for deliverance. Such is the way of the grace and truth of Jesus. You have given us this biblical practical help and hope we aim to deliver every day at FamilyLife. So thank you again.
I want to thank our Legacy Partners, who give monthly, to ensure we’re able to continue to help you love the relationships that matter most in your life.
Bob: Absolutely; we are so grateful for the monthly Legacy Partners, who make this radio program possible—the resources we create, the website, our events—all that we do, here at FamilyLife, happens because folks, like you, help make it happen. So thank you for your ongoing support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together one way or another with your local church this weekend. I hope you can join us on Monday. We’re going to talk about all of the data/all of the research that shows young people—people in their 20s and 30s—walking away from Christianity/from religion. David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock say there is a silver lining to that cloud. We’ll explore that silver lining when we join them on Monday. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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