Love Is Virtuous and Honest
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Bob Lepine, along with hosts Dave and Ann Wilson, continue their discussion of agape love found in 1 Corinthians 13, a passage that reveals the most common cracks found in marriage relationships.
Love Is Virtuous and Honest
Bob: Every marriage is being lived out in the middle of a spiritual battle. There is an enemy, who is looking for opportunities to take down your marriage. Here is Dave Wilson.
Dave: I don’t know how long ago it was—but sitting in a conference with Dennis Rainey speaking to men, 30 years ago—and he said, “Do not let your life be the door through which sin enters your family.” Just that commitment as a man, and this would be for a woman as well: “That I want to live righteously in such a way that sin”—and sin is going to get in every family; it’s part of it—“but I don’t want it to be through me.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, July 30th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. The Bible says, “Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.” For love to thrive in a marriage relationship, we have to be husbands and wives, who are committed to holiness and righteousness. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We talked earlier this week about love songs. You got out the guitar; you played a few love songs.
Dave: You want to do it again, Bob. Is that what you’re saying?
Bob: No; I want to play a song. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this one. This is one of the—
Bob: —lesser-known love songs from Steven Curtis Chapman.
Dave: I thought you were going/I thought you were going to go, “Nazareth”—that Christian band—“Love hurts..” [Laughter] No; this is Steven Curtis.
Dave: He is the master, in my opinion, of love songs.
Bob: I mean, everybody knows his song—
Dave: This one, Bob. [Laughter] [Guitar music]
Bob: I knew I—
Ann: He can’t help himself. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s the one.
Dave: [Singing line from I Will Be Here]
Ann: Oh, yes; everybody played it at the weddings.
Dave: [Singing line from I Will Be Here]
Ann: There it is. [Dave and Ann singing]
Bob: That’s the one everybody knows.
Bob: I’m going to play the song that he wrote in high school—
Dave: Oh boy!
Bob: —that was his very first love song that most of our listeners have, probably, never heard this one before. He explains this by saying he was recognizing, as a young songwriter, that he needed to write love songs. This is what he wrote.
[Steven Curtis Chapman singing This Could Be Love (or This Could Be the Flu)]
[Laughter] Isn’t that a classic Steven Curtis Chapman song?
Ann: Yes; that was his first one?
Bob: It’s one of the early—he wrote a song about [his brother, Herbie, hitting him with a whiffle bat ] in the backyard; Daddy’s out in the back yard, [spanking] Herbie. I remember—so he used to do these in concert. I don’t think they are on any records; but that’s on YouTube. If anybody wants the YouTube, they can go to our—
Ann: That’s great.
Bob: —website at FamilyLifeToday.com; and we’ve got a link to that particular YouTube.
But think about it—that’s how we’ve thought about love—
Bob: —all our lives that it’s: “My knees are shaking, and my palms are sweating.”
Ann: “My stomach is queasy”; yes.
Bob: That’s right.
What we’re trying to say, as we talk about the subject this month, is that we need to have a more biblically-anchored definition of what love is. That’s at the heart of the book that I wrote called Love Like You Mean It that’s been out now for a few weeks. Listeners are starting to order copies.
Ann: I hope you order a lot more. It’s a good book.
Dave: How did you—we haven’t even talked about this—how did you decide this would be your book, going to 1 Corinthians, sort of exegeting that and helping us understand it? I mean, where did the idea come from?
Bob: Well, I—here’s the long story there—I began to realize, after I’d worked at FamilyLife® for a few years, that there is a whole lot more in the Bible about marriage than I realized. When I came here, I thought, “You know the Bible has got Ephesians 5; it’s got 1 Peter 3; Genesis 1 and 2; Song of Solomon. There is some stuff about marriage in there, but most of it is not about marriage.”
Then I realized the Bible is essentially about two things: our relationship with God and our relationship with one another. So everything you read in the Bible that talks about how we relate to one another can be applied in a marriage relationship. You get to
1 Corinthians, and it’s talking about how we’re to relate to one another in love.
I thought, “Well, what if we take this classic definition that is read at weddings all the time, and we stopped, and we said, ‘Let’s really think about this’? Somebody said, ‘This is what you’re signing up for when you got married’; but is this really what you were signing up for?—because this is what makes marriage work.”
Ann: Would you do premarital counseling based on these verses?
Bob: I would bring this in. In fact, I’ve had the opportunity, since the book has been written, to share chapters with couples, who are getting married/share chapters with couples who are in conflict in a particular area. I think we can identify most of the major cracks that exist in a marriage relationship by looking at this passage and seeing, “Are we living according to this passage?” I don’t think there is much that is happening in marriage that’s pushing us toward isolation that is outside of these verses.
We’ve talked about the fact that love is patient, and love is kind, and love does not envy; it does not boast; it is not self-seeking; but there is more to it than that. In fact, later on in the passage, the Apostle Paul says, “Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing; but love rejoices in the truth.”
Ann: Yes; what does that mean?
Bob: I think this is something that’s not been on our radar screen when we think about love, but I think what Paul is saying is a fundamental commitment to living and walking in righteousness. Righteousness is one of those Bible words that we don’t use very often. It just means living according to God’s design and purpose for your life/living according to His standard of what’s right and wrong.
So love does not rejoice/love can’t rejoice when we are committed to unrighteousness. When we are choosing to live outside of God’s design for our lives, we have polluted the seedbed in which love is designed to grow. Here is what I’m saying: if you’re married to somebody, and that person has a perpetual tendency in a particular area of sin in their lives, that works against love in the marriage relationship.
If I’m married to a wife, who has a critical spirit, and she nags her—and this is not my wife at all—but if I was married to somebody, and this was her pattern, and she was not dealing with it/she was not trying to address it in her life—but she just said, “This is who I am, and you just need to learn to live with this,”—that doesn’t facilitate love. By the same token, if you are living with somebody, who is committed to a pattern of lust and that dominates a marriage relationship, that’s going to be an inhibitor to love in that relationship.
Paul is saying that the way we respond to God’s standards and purposes for us is either going to provide a good foundation for love to thrive or—and I’d use this as a metaphor—if the garden of your life is full of sin weeds, and you’re not pulling those regularly, then love can’t thrive when all of those weeds are there, choking it out.
Dave: I remember—Bob, you might remember this too—I don’t know how long ago it was—but sitting in a conference, I’m guessing, with Dennis Rainey speaking to men; he said, “Do not let your life be the door through which sin enters your family.”
Dave: Just that statement—it was like that commitment as a man, and this would be for a woman as well—that: “I want to live righteously—
Dave: —“in such a way that sin”—and sin’s going to get in every family; it’s part—“but I don’t want it to be through me.”
This little minor/not big deal—it could be the thing that gets ahold of my son, or gets/or destroys my marriage. I’m not going to rejoice in my own wrongdoing, let alone in my marriage; but often, we just think, “It’s not that big of a deal,” and it creeps into our family and destroys it. What you’re saying—Paul is getting at: “That’s not love.”
Bob: One of the good gifts of God is to give us the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of sin. The Holy Spirit will make you aware: “This is not right; this is not good.” We have two responses when the Holy Spirit does that. One is to go: “Oh, it’s not that bad. Come on; I can manage this. I can deal with it,”—that’s to reject the Holy Spirit/to quench the work of the Holy Spirit. Or we can say, “You’re right. Lord, help me to put to death this sin pattern in my life.”
To the extent that we minimize sin, it’s going to affect our relationship with one another/our love for one another. To the extent that we seek to put to death sin in our lives, it’s going to create the kind of soil where love can flourish and grow.
Ann: And I think it’s important to remember the reason God gives us boundaries—or guidelines, or laws, or Scripture that will just pull us in the right direction—is to protect us.
Bob: There is a connection.
Here is what I think the Bible is saying to us: “There is a connection between the pursuit of righteousness in our lives and how we love one another. To the extent that we are pursuing righteousness, we’re rejoicing in the truth; because love does not rejoice in unrighteousness; it rejoices in the truth. To the extent we are rejoicing in the truth, that’s going to cause our love for one another and our love for God to flourish together.
I think we tend to compartmentalize and think, “Well, the moral choices I’m making—those don’t affect my relationship with my spouse, or my kids, or anybody else,”—no; it bleeds together, because we’re one person. Whatever we bring into that relationship is what we’re cultivating in our lives.
Dave: Whether we realize it or not, every time we’re tempted to play with a sin or a temptation, the stakes are high—
Dave: —with any sort of wrongdoing. Paul’s telling us, “Your marriage/your love relationship is at stake as you decide what you’re going to do with this sin”; right?
Ann: But what if one spouse is saying: “This is ridiculous. I’m going to do whatever I want. You can be holy, and you can do whatever you want; but for me, you’re being overboard. I want to watch this show on TV, and I think it’s ridiculous that you don’t want to watch it.”
Bob: Yes; I think here we do have to, first of all, acknowledge that the only person we can control is ourselves. We want to be careful to avoid self-righteousness, which is that idea that, when your spouse is heading off, you don’t want to come across like: “Well, I’m holy, and you’re not. I don’t understand why you don’t abide by the standards that I’m abiding by.”
Galatians, Chapter 6, gives us a pattern here. Galatians 6 says, “Brothers, if you see somebody who is trapped in a sin”—so let’s say you’re married to your spouse; and you see your spouse, who is engaged in some behavior or pattern that you look at and you go, “I think this is sinful; I think this is wrong.” Well, it’s says, “You who are spiritual”—so, now, all of a sudden, you’ve got to go, “Wait; am I spiritual?”—that doesn’t mean, “Am I perfect?”—that means: “Am I walking with the Spirit? Am I listening to the Spirit?—or is it just something I don’t like, so I’ve said it’s wrong because I don’t like it?”
“You who are spiritual”—spiritually-minded—“your job is to restore your brother with a spirit of gentleness.” Most of the time, when a husband or a wife comes to correct their spouse for something they are doing that the spouse doesn’t like, there is not a spirit of gentleness there; right? [Laughter]
Then it says, “Be careful because you, too, might get tempted.” You might get tempted into the sin that your spouse is participating in; but you might get tempted in the other direction to pride and self-righteousness.
Ann: —what we talked about earlier—
Bob: That’s right.
Bob: Yes; so you have to be careful as you approach this: humble-hearted; and approach your spouse with gentleness and say: “Can I talk to you about something? There is something that I just don’t understand. It’s a struggle for me. It’s something that you don’t seem to have a problem with; just help me understand it.”
Now, if you are married to somebody, who is an unbeliever—and they say, “Well, I know that, because of Jesus—but I don’t believe that,”—okay, at that point, your job is not to try to clean up your spouse’s life; your job is to talk to him about Jesus, because nothing is going to get fixed until they love Jesus.
Ann: —and not in a way, that is saying, “You need Jesus!”
Bob: Yes; right.
Ann: “You need to go to church!”—not in that way.
Bob: No; you don’t go to them about that; but you also don’t try to get to modify their behavior and think, “That’s what I need to focus on.”
Now, if their behavior is destructive for the family—if somebody says, “Yes; I know you don’t get drunk because of Jesus, but I don’t seem to have a problem with that,”—well, if their drunken behavior is a problem for the family, then you have to address that as a family dynamic; but your goal here is not to get them to quit drinking. Your goal here is to introduce them to Jesus, and let Him go to work on their life, and let Him work on these issues. Point them to the source of righteousness, not to your behavior modification.
Dave: I mean, it’s interesting you come up with that analogy. I don’t know if Ann will remember this; but before we were married/we were engaged, we’re talking about what our marriage is going to look like. You gently brought up the conversation of “Will we have alcohol in our home?” and gently reminded me that I was raised by alcoholic parents. We made a decision, as we got married—and it was really my decision, because Ann really reminded me that would be a dangerous thing—so we never had alcohol in our home.
Ann: Oh, I was also scared for our own kids.
Ann: When my dad was ten years old, he spent the night in jail with his own dad, who was drunk and beat up his mom. My dad vowed that he would never take a drink after that, because it scared him so much; but I think my dad kind of planted that in me a little bit too. Knowing Dave’s past and his—we just had a great discussion about it.
Bob: And I think husbands and wives—if you are on the same page/you both profess faith in Christ—you can have those kinds of conversations and say: “Let’s talk about this. We both want our lives to be what God wants them to be, so let’s talk about the areas in our life where we need to align ourselves. We’re not living the way that we should. What’s the self-improvement that we need to work on”—and not self-improvement—“but Spirit-improvement, where God can be at work in our lives?” and “How can we make sure that we’re pursuing righteousness and loving truth rather than asking the question, ‘Well, what can we get away with? What kind of sin can we just kind of skate toward the edges of and not go too far?’”—you know?
Like, somebody, who said to me, “Yes; I wasn’t drunk. I think I was just buzzed.” I go, “Where is that line between buzzed and drunk?”—right?—“And why are you skating to the buzzed side of the pond?”
Dave: And guess where that’s going to land.
Dave: It’s going to take you over the cliff, eventually.
Let me—we only have a couple minutes left.
Dave: Let me ask you this—Paul writes, “Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing; but rejoices in the truth.”
Dave: We haven’t said a lot about that side of it. In a couple of minutes, what does that mean to rejoice in the truth? Does that mean no secrets?
Bob: I think it means two big things. Love rejoices when we’re able to be completely transparent with one another—naked and unashamed. That was at the end of the statement in Genesis 2: “The couple was naked and unashamed.”
Dave: —not just physically.
Bob: Right; they were transparent—they knew one another; they loved one another—there was no shame in them. Rejoicing in the truth is saying, “We want to get to a place in our marriage, where there are no secrets, where we can be honest and truthful with one another.”
Everybody is longing to be fully-known and fully-loved. Rejoicing in the truth—I think, in part—is saying: “Love rejoices when that kind of transparency can exist in a marriage relationship,” and “We can be who we really are, and know it’s safe to be who we really are; you’ll still be here, even when you see the flaws.”
Ann: That’s one of the scariest things we can do; because the fear is, “If I let you see all the wickedness and who I really am, I’m afraid that you won’t accept me.” I think that Dave and I—we went through that quite a bit, especially years and years ago, when we were first married. Dave talked that he had a problem with looking at porn. I was so upset; and I wanted him to share it with me, because I wanted to know him.
Ann: I wanted to know the truth, but I also wanted to know who he was. I didn’t like that; it was like, “Ooh, I don’t like that that is in there”; but now, years and years later, I’m thinking, “I’m so glad that you let me into that world, because you were struggling; and I wanted to be your partner.” Even though I didn’t respond well at first, I wanted to know all of you—your struggles/your pain. I think it’s important how we respond to the spouse.
Dave: I knew, as I hid that, that I wasn’t loving her.
Dave: That was not love to hide that. I would say, “There’s a man listening right now that has that secret or another. The voice of God is saying, ‘Today’s the day to love her by telling her the truth.’”
Dave: And that’s a hard conversation. It may not go well, initially, but that is loving. Then the journey can start; because as long as something is in the dark, the dark wins. The second it is in the light, Jesus can say, “We can begin a healing process.”
Bob: Don’t just back the dump truck up and say, “Okay—
Bob: —“so dump it and be casual.” If you can’t go to your wife in brokenness, and with grief over the reality of this sin in your own life,—
Bob: —and say, “I need your help in dealing with something that’s had its grip on me; and I’ve kept it in darkness, because I’m ashamed”—
Bob: —“and because I’m afraid you won’t love me if you know this is true about me,”—this is whether it is a husband or a wife—
Bob: —when we approach one another with that kind of tenderness and say, “I need to bring something to the light,” our oneness/our intimacy will grow and thrive when we know one another more fully, and we love one another in the midst of that.
Ann: I would say that, as well, as wives, I know we can keep a lot of secrets; and we can keep a lot of things hidden. To go to your husband—I would say this—before you go to your husband, go to your heavenly Father; I would say that to the men, too—and pray for God to prepare their hearts, for God to prepare your words as you are about to communicate with a soft spirit and ask them for their help, ask them for prayer, ask them to really know you,—
Ann: —and see you, and love you in the midst of it.
Bob: I think, when the Bible says, “Love rejoices in the truth,” it’s not just talking about horizontal truth; but it’s also talking about vertical truth. Love rejoices when we line ourselves up with the truth of God’s Word, when we are committed to the One who is the truth—that’s Jesus declares that about Himself: “I am the truth.” Love rejoices when we say, “We’re committed to the truth, and to pursuing the truth of God’s Word, and living that out in our lives and in our marriage.”
It’s about being open and honest with one another; but love also rejoices when we say, “I’m not going to pursue wrongdoing—the darkness/the untruth—I’m going to pursue truth and live my life accordingly.” That’s what righteousness is—is aligning yourself with truth and living that way.
Dave: It would be a good book to read tonight.
Ann: It will change your marriage.
Dave: Read Bob’s book.
Ann: Read Bob’s book.
Dave: Then sit down and have a conversation with God and with your spouse, and see where God takes it.
Bob: You know the truth is—I’m hearing from people, who are starting to read this book together as a couple. In each chapter, there are some “Talk Together Moments” that we’ve outlined there so that it’s, not just something you read and highlight, but it’s something that you can use to provoke some helpful conversation in your marriage; at least, that’s what my hope is in writing the book.
I hope, if listeners have not gotten a copy yet, they’ll go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and order the book, Love Like You Mean It, all about
1 Corinthians 13 and your marriage. Again, the title of the book is Love Like You Mean It. You can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can order by calling 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Let me also recommend a resource we’re making available to help couples strengthen the foundation of your marriage. This is a free resource that includes access to a couple of online video courses; access to messages from Paul David Tripp, and Gary Chapman, Voddie Baucham, Juli Slattery; some downloadable resources.
We recognize many couples, here in 2020, have been under an unusual amount of stress. That’s when it is time to start doing some things to intentionally strengthen the foundation of your marriage. That’s what this online resource is all about; it’s called “Take Your Marriage from Good to Great.” All of the content we’re making available here is free to you.
As a little extra incentive for you to start to engage with these messages, anybody who signs up for this content is going to be automatically entered into a contest. We’re going to draw one name, here, in a couple of weeks; and one couple will be our guests. We’re going to fly you to FamilyLife; you’ll sit in on a FamilyLife Today recording session, and then have dinner that night with Dave and Ann Wilson.
All you have to do to be eligible to win that is to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and sign up for the “Take Your Marriage from Good to Great” resource. Again, it’s completely free; no purchase necessary. All the rules about the contest are available online. We hope you’ll take advantage of the resource; and hope to see one couple joining us, here, at FamilyLife for an upcoming recording session.
And we hope you can join us again tomorrow. We’re going to talk about what the Bible means when it says, “Love bears all things and endures all things.” Does that really mean all things? We’ll have that conversation tomorrow. I hope you can tune in 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
©Song: This Could Be Love (or This Could Be the Flu)
Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Album: ©1994 Sparrow Song/Peach Hill Songs (BMI)
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