Love is a choice that also happens in a seemingly magical and metaphysical way, as poets have tried to explain it throughout the millennias. But, is that it? As we discovered in the last chapter, the Bible tells us that love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on. In our human mind, we may see it as magical, as if it "just happened," but, without pursuing its true meaning and character, it will dispel and waste away. So, when we do receive that spark of love that we cannot explain, to keep that magic, that romance, that spark going requires us to do something about it. If we do not work on it, the spark that was once there will vanish as quickly and as suddenly as it came. It will fade into the night, leaving us in the darkness of the maze of relationships, lost and confused. The way we keep that flame from blowing out is our understanding and modeling the character of love. So, as it becomes contagious and spreads, it flames and excites, burns and grows, so the winds of the ups and downs of a relationship will not blow it out!
We do not necessarily fall in love as the love songs and movies proclaim, because, you may well fall out of it, faster than you fell in it! If you never choose to make it a commitment, with love, you will never have it, or, if you do, you will not keep it! Love is a verb; it requires action that is implied for being a verb, action to do something with it. What are you doing with it? Are the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13 being put into action with your friends, family, acquaintances, and your spouse? If not, what is in the way of that verb action?
If you ask most couples who are thinking about marriage, or who are already engaged, why they are getting married, they usually will say: "Why, we're in love." It has been through studying the Word, plus, over twenty years of pastoral counseling experience, that has prompted me to question the validity of this motive. Yes, love is essential and powerful! However, if that is all you have, you will end up with nothing! The number one mistake people make when they date is to look just for love. The number one mistake married couples make is thinking that their love is all they need. This puts their brains "on hold" from everything else. Yes, love is putting the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13 into action, but most people, including Christians, do not even know what real love is! Choosing a life partner should never be based on love alone. A marriage cannot last on love alone. This may sound like crazy talk, but think it through. Have you ever seen a relationship work with just love? No, not for movie or TV stars who have everything going for them, not for the singers who sing about it, and not even for the Beatles! Because, they do not know what love is, nor do they really put it into practice.
Have you ever known some to get married to someone they did not love (other than Anna Nichole Smith, the model born in1967 who marred the billionaire oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, born 1904; married June 27, 1994; who was many decades her senior and who died a few months later)? Most, if not all, people who get married do it for love, yet, according to most statistical evidence, fifty percent will divorce in less than five years. So, what happened to the love? If love is all we need, should not it have worked? Why did it not work? Because, there never was real love, they misunderstood what love is, or, they had nothing but love. Perhaps they let that spark of love flame out in neglect, so that there was a huge vacuum in their relationship! Love should not be the horse in front of the cart. Love alone cannot influence a relationship. Love needs to be a result, not a cause, for getting married. Love is the result of a good marriage, not the fuel to make it. Love is an attitude that is followed by action; when this does not happen, love will sit and go nowhere.
Read Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 5:8-13 then Discuss this session and answer these questions:
1. Most people assume that love is the most important thing in a marriage, or the most important reason to get married. How do you feel about this statement? In light of the Scripture, what would be God's answer?
2. Why would a Christian say, I do not need to work on love and relationships, it will just happen. And, if not, it was not meant to be, and I can get out of it if it does not work out?
3. Do you believe that the Bible tells us that love is more of a choice rather than any feeling or aspiration of what we may want it to be, or mean?
4. If love is more than a feeling, why do almost half of Christian marriages end in divorce (According to "Focus on the Family" and "Barna.org")?
5. What part do feelings play in love?
6. Love must be pursued and worked on. If we put forth any endeavor to examine the relationships around us, we would realize this fact; so, why do most people, including Christians, give up way too soon?
7. Love is a verb; it requires action. What are the actions that are missing from your relationships? Focus on your part.
8. What is in the way of that verb action?
9. Why is it that if all you have is the feeling of love, you will end up with nothing?
10. Write a love letter to your spouse, or, if you are not married, to a pretend spouse, with the points you have learned so far.