10. Gentle love. When you consider the topic of love do you connect love with gentleness? Many do not understand this attribute of love. However, Paul associated these two qualities together many times. He asked the Corinthians if they wanted him to come to them with “a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness” (1 Cor. 4:21). Paul also encouraged the Ephesian church to walk in “all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). In other words, love is seen in a humble, gentle, and longsuffering attitude. Peter also encouraged wives to display the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4). Is gentleness precious in your sight?
Does gentleness characterize the way you speak and behave toward your spouse? Or, are you sarcastic, critical, or abusive? The lack of gentleness is one of the most overlooked causes of marital disharmony. Ask God today for His gentle love to fill your heart!
11. Forgiving love. Another fundamental cause of a deteriorating love in marriage is an unwillingness to forgive. When you have unresolved issues in your marriage there will naturally be unforgiveness in your heart. When you allow one or more of these counterfeit types of love to exist in your relationship, conflicts will result. If you don’t forgive and instead hold onto resentment, your heart will only grow hard and the distance in your relationship will only increase. Sincere love can’t exist in this kind of relationship. Why? Because true love always seeks reconciliation and forgiveness (John 3:16). God loved you so much that He sought to reconcile and forgive you by sending His Son to die in your place. The apostle John added: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Are you loving your spouse the same way you have been loved by God? Choose to forgive and seek reconciliation with your spouse just as the Father has with you. Remember Christ’s command: “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Don’t wait! Choose to love by forgiving today. Ask God to open your eyes to your own sin and how much He has forgiven you. Then do the same with your spouse.
If you don’t sense that you have this forgiving heart or any of the other characteristics I’ve discussed in this publication, the place to begin is prayer. If you are a believer, confess your need before God and ask Him for the infilling of His Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Remember, it’s God’s good pleasure to give to you whatever you need to live a successful and fruitful life. Jesus promised, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). If you want real love and not some counterfeit in your marriage, ask the Lord right now for a change of heart and He will give it to you.
If you have never made a commitment of your life to Christ, you must first begin by surrendering to Him. Ask God to forgive you and personally invite Jesus to come into your heart by faith. This is the only way you can have the power to do what I’ve just encouraged in this publication. God will answer your request for forgiveness and He will grant to you the power of His love. Bow before Him in prayer and watch what happens!
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, visit www.CovenantKeepers.org