Opening: Ask for a show of hands of couples who have had lasting marriages (e.g., 5 years, 10, 20, 50 years, etc.). Transition: Either consciously or unconsciously you have put some principles into practice that have allowed your love for one another to last.
Two Preliminaries: (1) The Bible contains relationship principles. All of these principles apply to marriage and family relationships. (2) Every relationship principle is based on a person being "in Christ." Paul appeals to them on this basis. Love doesn't just happen, even for a Christian. There are some biblical principles for love that lasts.
Love will last when the following biblical principles are applied to our marriages.
Principle #1: Encourage One Another
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ" (v.1).
The two biblical words that form the word encouragement are "kaleo" (to call) and "para" (by the side). The word for "encouragement" contains the idea of coming alongside someone for the purpose of building them up through your speech rather than tearing them down. It is related to the word for Holy Spirit, "paraclete." So it is true, my wife is the Holy Spirit in my life! Seriously, though, be the spirit of encouragement to your spouse. Someone has said, "Man doesn't live by bread alone, He also needs buttering up." When was the last time you praised your mate with encouraging words? Do we praise him or her in small things? We all need praise every now and then, to know somebody is behind us supporting us, encouraging us on.
We need our spouse, who knows all about us (including our faults and sins) and still love us anyway, to encourage us. None of us are perfect and no marriage has ever been perfect except maybe one - Adam and Eve's. Adam and Eve had the only perfect marriage. I say that because "she couldn't talk about the man she might have married and he couldn't complain that his mother was a better cook." It's the little acts of praise and encouragement that makes the day sunnier in our soul.
Principle #2: Comfort One Another
"If any comfort from his love" (v.1).
The word for "comfort" also contains the word we just looked at, "para" (by the side). This word for comfort means to come close to strengthen. Our acts and words of comfort strengthen one another. We are to comfort as God comforts us (2 Cor. 1:3-4). In Isaiah 66:13 we have the image of a mother's comfort for her children. That's how we are to comfort one another. A little girl lost one of her friends in death. Later on she told her mother that she had gone to comfort the girls mother. "What did you say?" asked her parents. "Nothing," she said. "I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her." Comfort is sometimes simply weeping with those who weep (Ecc. 3:4).
Joe Bayly relates a particular time when he was in deep grief over the loss of one of his children. He said that one person came and talked to me about God and why ...
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