How to Love Your Spouse

love01(Excerpt from What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp)

How to Love your Spouse by the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

What does this look like in a marriage?

Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or a wife.
Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your marriage.
Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view.
This realization should give you pause and then spur you to action: it is impossible for any of us to love as has been described. The bar is simply too high. The requirements are simply too great. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. This description of love in action has left me humbled and grieved. It has faced me once again with my tendency to name as love things that are not love. It has forced me to admit how self-focused and self-absorbed I actually am. It has reminded me that when it comes to love, I am not an expert. No, I am poor, weak, and needy.

Jesus died not only so that we would have forgiveness for not loving as we should, but also so that we would have the desire, wisdom, and power to love as we should.

Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love.

Love for God and for Each Other

If we truly love God it will show itself in our genuine love for one another. The one who does not love does not know God, Pastor Bruce Brock teach on this vital theme. Along the way, Pastor Bruce deals with a number of false concepts about God’s love, and by means of the Scripture, points us to the real thing found in Christ. Pastor Bruce leads a Reformed congregation in Tucson, Arizona called Faith Community Church.

Love for God and for Each Other from Faith Community Church on Vimeo.

He Loved Us Then: He’ll Love Us Now

by Dane Ortlund

It is not hard for me to believe God has put away all my old failures that occurred before new birth. What is hard is to believe that God continues to put away all my present failures that occur after new birth.

We tend to view the Father looking down on us with raised eyebrows–‘how are they still such failures after all I have done for them?’ we see him wondering.

A Christian conscience is a re-sensitized conscience. Now that we know God as Father, now that we have become human again, we feel more deeply than ever the ugliness of sin. Failure makes the soul cringe unlike ever before. That’s why Romans 5:1-11 is in the Bible.

Lots to say about 5:1-5 and the present peace believers enjoy because of the past justification that has been secured, but here’s something I’m reflecting on this week from verses 6-11.

No less than three times in these verses Paul says roughly the same thing:

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (5:6)

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (5:8)

If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (5:10)

Three times Paul says that God did something to save us when we were hating him. Weak. Sinners. Enemies. We didn’t have to clean ourselves up first. He didn’t meet us halfway. He pulled us out of the moral mud in which we were drowning. That’s great news. But that’s not Paul’s burden in these verses. He’s after something else.

What’s the ultimate point Paul is driving at in Romans 5:6-11? Not God’s past work, mainly. His point is our present security, given that past work. He raises Christ’s past work to drive home this point: If God did that back then, when you were so screwy and had zero interest in him, then what are you worried about now? The whole point of vv. 6-11 is captured in the “since” of v. 9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him . . .” It is not hard for him to hug you in your mess now that the hard part’s done. This really helps us relax.

He drew near to us when we hated him. Will he remain distant now that we want to please him?

He suffered for us when we were failing, as orphans. Will he cross his arms over our failures now that we are his adopted children?

His heart was “gentle and lowly” toward us when we were lost. Will his heart be anything different toward us now that we are found?

“While we were still.” He loved us in our mess then. He’ll love us in our mess now. Our very agony in sinning is the fruit of our adoption. A cold heart would not be bothered. We are not who we were.


Christ loved you before all worlds; long ere the day star flung his ray across the darkness, before the wing of angel had flapped the unnavigated ether, before aught of creation had struggled from the womb of nothingness, God, even our God, had set his heart upon all his children.

Since that time, has he once swerved, has he once turned aside, once changed? No; ye who have tasted of his love and know his grace, will bear me witness, that he has been a certain friend in uncertain circumstances. . . .

You have often left him; has he ever left you? You have had many trials and troubles; has he ever deserted you? Has he ever turned away his heart, and shut up his bowels of compassion? No, children of God, it is your solemn duty to say ‘No,’ and bear witness to his faithfulness.

–Charles Spurgeon, ‘A Faithful Friend,’ in Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1857), 13-14

A Word to Singles on Valentine’s Day

This is a wonderful day of joy and affirmation for some, and yet can be a very lonely day for others… Its a day the single person could squander by thinking of what he/she does not have, pining for the clock to strike midnight to indicate that Valentine’s Day has come and gone. It can be a brutal emotional day. But it does not have to be. Not be a long shot! Instead, it can be a day to be thankful for all one does have, and to once again affirm that God is our refuge and strength. It is a day to trust the hand of Providence, even as the heart longs for His intervention.

Feelings follow Thoughts

If we are sad, it is because we are choosing to think sad thoughts. Sadness is a choice. It is impossible to be sad if we think about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise…” (Philippians 4:8) God tells us “think on these things.” That is a command to be obeyed.

How long O Lord… yet I will go to God, my exceeding joy.

We do not have to read very far in the book of Psalms to see a writer express the frustration tearing his heart apart, and yet, after doing so, within just a few short verses, observe the dramatic change as he finds joy and rest in the comfort God brings to him. How precious the Lord is. Valentine’s Day for the single person, is a day to mimic the Psalmist and do the same. Pour out your raw frustrations and even your questioning thoughts and sadness to God. Tell Him all that concerns you. Don’t leave anything unsaid. But don’t stop there. Leave yourself time, as you read His word, for the Divine Comforter to bring new strength and courage to you as you sit in His presence.

Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”

… This self of ours has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and uses it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did and say, Why art thou cast down? Why are thou disquieted within me? Stop being so! Hope though in God, for I shall yet praise Him.” – Spiritual Depression p. 20, 21

Valentine’s Day, like any other day certainly is not the time to settle for something less than God’s best. His sheep will find no spiritual companionship with goats. “Be not unequally yoked with an unbeliever” the Scripture says. It is better to wait for the sheep of His choice than to settle for the affection of a goat, just because NOT to do so would mean loneliness on Valentine’s Day. May Christ be our all in all.

Justin Taylor quotes something written by a 30-year-old single pastor who writes to other singles with some counsel. An excerpt:

Valentine’s Day doesn’t help. Images of candy and flowers get old pretty quick. And time spent in the presence of other couples makes you wonder if a Relationship is just the sort of fresh coat of paint that might make you finally visible to the world. And let’s face it, this isn’t the sort of issue over which the Christian subculture is getting any less obsessive or condescending.

But the one thing that’s not ok is to get all mopey about it. The apostle Paul talks about “being content in all circumstances.” Still, the great theologian named Tom Petty tells us that “the waiting is the hardest part.” So as a young, single pastor, I write this advice to all my fellow singles out there.

Here’s an outline:

•You probably don’t have the gift of singleness.
•Pray for love. All of it.
•You are not damaged goods.
•Take advice sparingly.
•Learn to accept the gift of singleness.
•Be the change you want to see in your spouse.

True love

B. B. Warfield

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 – February 16, 1921) was professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. Some conservative Presbyterians consider him to be the last of the great Princeton theologians.

Kim Riddlebarger posts an excerpt from his dissertation giving an overview of Warfield’s life. Here are a couple of extracts about his marriage:

Soon after marrying Annie Pearce Kinkead, who was also from noble stock, the newlyweds journeyed to Leipzig…

During their stay in Europe an event occurred that would forever change the Warfield’s lives. While walking together in the Harz mountains, Mr. and Mrs. Warfield were caught in a violent thunderstorm. Annie Warfield suffered a severe trauma to her nervous system from which she never fully recovered. She was so severely traumatized that she would spend the rest of her life as an invalid of sorts, becoming increasingly more incapacitated as the years went by. Her husband was to spend the rest of their lives together giving her “his constant attention and care” until her death in 1915 (Allis, “Personal Impressions of Dr Warfield,” 10). B. B. Warfield could not have foreseen just how constant and difficult a demand this was to become, and how, in the providence of God, this would impact his entire career.

. . . Warfield’s remarkable literary output is, no doubt, in large measure due to the frail condition of his wife and his amazing devotion to her. With the pen he was a formidable foe, but as O. T. Allis recalls, “I used to see them walking together and the gentleness of his manner was striking proof of the loving care with which he surrounded her. They had no children. During the years spent at Princeton, he rarely if ever was absent for any length of time” (Allis, “Personal Impressions of Dr Warfield,” 10). Machen recalled that Mrs. Warfield was a brilliant woman and that Dr. Warfield would read to her several hours each day. Machen dimly recalled seeing Mrs. Warfield in her yard a number of years earlier during his own student days, but notes that she had been long since bed-ridden (Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen, 220).

According to most accounts, Dr. Warfield almost never ventured away from her side for more than two hours at a time. In fact, he left the confines of Princeton only one time during a ten-year period, and that for a trip designed to alleviate his wife’s suffering which ultimately failed (Bamberg, “Our Image of Warfield Must Go,” 229)…

Though Warfield may have been known to many as a tenacious fighter, the compassion he directed toward his wife, Annie Kinkead Warfield, demonstrates a capacity for tenderness and caring that is in its own right quite remarkable. In the mysterious providence of God, it was the nature of his wife’s illness and his devotion to her, that ironically provided the greatest impetus for his massive literary output. Personally vital and energetic, “he did not allow” his wife’s illness “to hinder him in his work. He was intensely active with voice and pen” (Allis, “Personal Impressions of Dr Warfield,” 11). Thus his creative energies were focused in two directions: his writing and the classroom. As caretaker for an invalid wife, Warfield spent many hours each day in the confines of his study.

The Duty of Love

Tim Challies comments: I have been reading (and listening to) Tim Keller’s new book The Meaning of Marriage, easily my favorite book of 2011. One of the subjects Keller covers is the lost sense of duty in love. We have come to think that if there is any duty in love it must not be genuine. Biblically, of course, love is shown not in what you receive, but in how much you are willing to give; often you give out of a sense of duty. I’d like to share a quote in which he applies this to the marriage bed. I share this simply because I know what a struggle this is in so many marriages and I am sure that these words can help.

Modern people think of love in such subjective terms that if there is any duty involved it is considered unhealthy. Over the years, I have often counseled with people who were quite locked into this conviction. This is particularly true when it comes to sex. Many people believe that if you have sex with your spouse just to please him or her though you are not interested in sex yourself, it would be inauthentic or even oppressive. This is the thoroughly subjective understanding of love-as-passionate-feeling. And often this quickly leads into a vicious cycle. If you won’t make love unless you are in a romantic mood at the very same time as your spouse, then sex will not happen that often. This can dampen and quench your partner’s interest in sex, which means there will be even fewer opportunities. Therefore, if you never have sex unless there is great mutual passion, there will be fewer and fewer times of mutual passion.

One of the reasons we believe in our culture that sex should always and only be the result of great passion is that so many people today have learned how to have sex outside of marriage, and this is a very different experience than having sex inside it. Outside of marriage, sex is accompanied by a desire to impress or entice someone. It is something like the thrill of the hunt. When you are seeking to draw in someone you don’t know, it injects risk, uncertainty, and pressure to the lovemaking that quickens the heartbeat and stirs the emotions. If “great sex” is defined in this way, then marriage—the “piece of paper”—will indeed stifle that particular kind of thrill. But this defines sexual sizzle in terms that would be impossible to maintain in any case. The fact is that “the thrill of the hunt” is not the only kind of thrill or passion available, nor is it the best.
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Love, Pride, and Speaking Truth

Please allow me to quote Dane Ortlund, quoting Martin Luther….

We live in a world, and a Christian world, in which offending another is, in the realm of human relationship, the supreme vice. Confronted with the choice to actively speak what one believes to be true or passively let sleeping dogs lie in the name of love, we often choose the latter.

All we say must be done in love. That is non-negotiable. But even what that means has been hijacked in some ways by the world, softness being mistaken for love. When called for, neither Moses nor the prophets nor Jesus nor Paul nor Peter nor even the gentle-hearted John (see 1 John 2:4; 3:8, or the ‘arrogance’ of 4:6) refrained from non-subtle, non-manipulating, non-face-saving words of piercing truth, spoken in love yet doubtless perceived as harshness. And note that almost all of them were accused of arrogance, even Jesus. Were they unloving? No; it was their love itself that fueled such penetrating language.

May we examine ourselves? Asking if, at times, what we deem to be kindness on our part is cowardice? ‘I don’t want to be seen as offensive’ can feel like ‘I want the best for my brother.’ Self-guarding is mistaken for love. It is in fact love of self. The devil smiles.

Luther is a massive breath of fresh air in these things. Such defibrillating clarity. In the letter to Pope Leo X that prefaces Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian, Luther says:

Now I will admit to attacking false or unchristian teachings. I have not criticized the bad morals of my opponents but rather their ungodly doctrines. I am not going to repent of this! After all, I am only following the example of Christ, who did not hesitate to call his opponents such things as ‘a brood of vipers’. . . . And think of the stinging criticism of the prophets! However, our ears have become more finely attuned to the empty praises of the endless lines of flatterers. As a result, we protest when any of our opinions meets with disapproval. . . .

Therefore, blessed Leo, when you read this letter and understand my intentions, I hope you see that I have never meant ill toward you personally. I have only the best wishes for you. I have no argument with any person with regard to morals. But I am unyielding when it comes to contending about the word of truth. In all other things, I will gladly yield, but I have neither the power nor the will to deny the word. If others view my motives differently, they either are not thinking straight or have failed to understand what I have said. (The Freedom of a Christian, p. 35)

Pride is frightfully pervasive, in my heart and yours. And this is a love-starved world. But let’s be sure we understand what it means, truly, to renounce pride and love others.