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Wholehearted Love in Marriage

By George Stahnke

When God thinks of us, when he sees us, he is moved with deep emotion toward us that demands expression. He is not silent, indifferent, passive, or detached! Because he sees us as people of extreme worth and value, there is no halfhearted effort; “maybe I should,” “if it’s not too demanding.” He gives his best, his all, for the one he loves! As imitators of God, we must love our wives as Christ loves us. Anything less is not wholehearted.

Webster defines wholehearted as “completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic, marked by complete earnest commitment, free from all reserve or hesitation.” An example of this kind of wholehearted love is found in Ephesians 5:1-2 and verse 25. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

A key component to wholehearted love in marriage is love of self, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor (wife) as yourself.’1 (Emphasis added) This is important because the love of God and self is the benchmark that defines a healthy relationship in marriage. As we continue to yield to God, our love of self 2  becomes healthy, which enables us to adjust our thoughts and behaviors to meet the needs of our wives.3  With a healthy love of self, we endeavor to live by the golden rule, treating her as we would like to be treated.4 With determination, we honor our wives, resist being critical, pursue harmony, accepting her, and patiently making allowances for her short-comings.5

Our selfish and sinful tendencies sabotage wholehearted love in marriage. Perhaps the apostle Paul said it best. “It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.”6 In this struggle to love our wives as we love ourselves, we must believe that we have access to God’s divine nature, and trust that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.7 This marvelous transformation into wholehearted love in marriage is a lifelong process, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”8

Imagine marriages where husbands obey God’s instruction to love their wives as they love themselves. Envision the joy of a woman who knows she is tenderly cared for, protected, and cherished!9 I can hear the accolades now, “Thank God for a husband who loves me wholeheartedly!”

For additional help click the following links for free marriage worksheets:

The “One Another Gospel Regarding Marriage

http://www.renewalcs.org/one_another_gospel_marriage.pdf

Love Inventory — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

http://www.renewalcs.org/love_inventory.pdf

100 ways to love your wife

http://www.renewalcs.org/100_ways.pdf

Footnotes:
1. Matthew 22:36-39
2. Biblical self-love must not be confused with self-centeredness, vanity, or narcissism. Scriptural self-love is an ever-growing awareness and acceptance of our true worth and value before God. Healthy self-love promotes a responsible life style earmarked by appropriate relational boundaries (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) and applicable self-care.
3. Romans 12:16 AMP
4. Matthew 7:12
5. Romans 12:10b; 14:13,19; 15:7; Ephesians 4:2 AMP
6. Romans 7:21 The Message
7. Philippians 4:13; 2 Peter 1: 1-10
8. Philippians 3:12-14
9. Ephesians 5:28, 33

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