As a pastor, it is painful to see couples relationships fall apart, and one or neither side are willing to make the heart changes to fix the situation.
As a father, it is painful to watch as my children go through the growing pains of a relationship or the difficulties of a one-sided partnership.
As a human being in general, it brings sorrow as I witness so many relationships that result in mental or physical abuse and the traumatizing circumstances that come as a result of said abuse.
For anything to last it must be built upon a strong foundation. A house built on sand will fall; a house built on a stone will last.
A house built on a rock will experience its share of storms, but once the tempest passes, the house remains. Same way with a relationship, those built upon the sand can only take so many storms before falling into ruin, but those built upon a rock will weather the storms.
What then, is the proper foundation for relationships?
Love is the needed foundation of a relationship.
The problem is not that people don’t know what to build a relationship on, the problem is people mistake sand for concrete.
Often people think love as an emotion, something that is uncontrollable, something that just happens. Have you ever consider that love is a choice?
God commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). He also tells husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). Everything God commands us to do is a choice. We make the choice to obey or disobey. He will also not tell us to do something that we are incapable of doing. With God commanding us to love; love, therefore, must be a choice.
1 Corinthians 13 gives the full definition of love. This chapter is known as “the love chapter.” All of the newer English translations use the word “love” throughout the chapter. However, in the King James Bible, the word “love” is not there. The King James Version uses the word “charity” instead.
By using the word “charity,” God is giving us the real definition of love. Love is giving ourselves to someone or something else. If love is properly defined as charity, then the opposite of love is selfishness.
If a man is always getting upset because the woman is not taking care of his needs – well, that is more selfishness than love.
If couples divide up everything as “his” and “hers” there are storm clouds on the horizon. So often in marriage counseling, couples will begin to explain their problems with statements like, “She is always spending my money” or, “He always wants to drive my car.” These declarations and others like them are void of charity and filled with selfishness. There is an absence of love.
When half of a relationship attempts to control the other, for whatever reason, the controlling person is exercising their selfishness – once again, an absence of love.
Often, lust, a need for protection or companionship, a desire to be accepted at any cost, and a slew of other things can be mistaken for love. These misconceptions are the whole mistaking sand for concrete thing. Just like the house built on sand, at first glance, everything seems fine. As time goes on, storms come. The first storm usually won’t knock the house off its foundation; sometimes it takes years. But eventually, the sand will not hold and the house crashes. Relationships not built on love eventually crumble.
Just because a marriage falls apart does not always mean a divorce will occur. Often the two, because of their selfishness learn to live separate lives. They may be in the same house; they will tolerate each other and communicate when necessary, but overall they are nothing more than two different people living under the same roof.
Consistently arguing about finances, the raising of the children, how to handle the in-laws, what to do in their spare time, and the things they own are warning signs of selfishness and therefore, a lack of love.
Space prohibits me from going through 1 Corinthians in detail, but hitting a few highlights.
“Charity suffereth long” – Love doesn’t look for an out whenever times get rough (Note: rough times are things like loss of income or severe illness. Separation is needed in an abusive situation).
“Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” – When you love someone, you will not look down your nose at them.
“Charity … thinketh no evil” – When you love someone, you trust them, and you won’t do anything to cause them to loose trust in you.
If there is a lack of love in your relationship, be honest and pray for your heart and the heart of your partner. Better yet, pray together about the situation.