On my third date with Danny Lotz, he leaned over the table where I was enjoying a chocolate ice cream soda and informed me that he loved me and wanted to marry me! I was 17 years old. He was 28. I immediately informed my father, absolutely certain that he would end such nonsense. But my father gave me a searching gaze, then revealed, “Anne, I think Danny Lotz is the man you are going to marry.” Daddy was right, and Danny and I were engaged to be married in February 1966.
February is the month of love. Of Valentines. Of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy, long-stemmed red roses, romantic candlelight dinners and Hallmark cards. At least, that is the image projected in our culture. How do you tell your spouse that you love him or her? What is love, anyway? And what happens when the feeling of love runs out of your marriage? As I reflect on more than 46 years as Mrs. Danny Lotz, I know I have learned a lot about loving my spouse.
READ 1 JOHN 3-4
What do you think love is? Write out your definition before completing the following Bible study.
As you go through these passages, substitute the word spouse, husband or wife for one another, brother or friend.
I. MY LOVE IS A CHOICE
- What message does John say we have heard from the beginning? See 1 John 3:11.
- Is this message given as a suggestion, an option or a command?
- Where else is this message given and by whom? See John 13:34-35; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 2 John 1:5.
The Choice Involves Decisions
- What is the reason given in 1 John 3:11 for making the choice to love your spouse?
- What two words in John 13:34 indicate that this is not an option?
- How is this command reinforced in Romans 12:10?
- When struggling to love your spouse, where is your focus?
- What does Jesus have to say about focusing on the faults of others? Read Matthew 7:3-5.
- What needs to happen before you can love your spouse deeply? See 1 Peter 1:22. Relate this to finding fault with or blaming your spouse.
- How do you know that God lives in you? Trace the decisions necessary to be assured you live in Him and He lives in you, from 1 John 1:9-10, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10, Revelation 3:20, John 1:12, Luke 11:9-13, Ephesians 1:13-14 and Romans 8:9.
- What decision do you need to make first regarding your personal relationship with God before you can love your spouse deeply?
The Choice Involves Deeds
- How does 1 John 3:16 define love? See also Ephesians 5:2.
- Put the example John uses into your own words.
- What does sacrificial, unconditional love look like in your marriage relationship?
- Give some practical applications for 1 John 3:18. Relate this to the feeling of being in love.
- What do you need to do for your spouse today in order to “say” that you love him or her?
The Choice Involves Dependence
- When your feeling of love runs out, does it mean you are trapped in a loveless marriage? See 1 John 4:16.
- What is the source of love for your spouse, especially when your own love has run out or is in short supply?
- What encouragement do you receive from: Psalm 42:8, 51:1, 52:8, 136:2? Daniel 9:4? Romans 8:31-39? Ephesians 5:1?
II. MY LOVE IS A COMMITMENT
A Commitment to Serve
- How does Galatians 5:13 say you are to love your spouse?
- Describe the example Jesus set for us in John 13:1-17, including the time frame (verse 1), the type of service (verses 3-5) and the perspective He gave regarding the most menial tasks (verses 13-17).
- How would it change your perspective if you served your spouse as unto the Lord?
A Commitment to Forgive
- How important is it to forgive your spouse for hurting your feelings, for wronging you or neglecting you, for _____________(fill in the blank)? Read Luke 6:37, Matthew 6:12, 18:23-35 and Mark 11:25.
- According to Colossians 3:13, why should you forgive your spouse? How often does Matthew 18:21-22 indicate you should forgive your spouse? Do you think this means that we keep a record of wrongs?
- Write out 1 Corinthians 13 in your own words as it applies to loving and forgiving your spouse.
A Commitment to Encourage
- What does Hebrews 10:24-25 tell us to do? See also 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 3:13.
- How does God encourage us so that we can encourage our spouse, and how are we to respond to this encouragement? See Romans 15:4-7.
- What can you do today to encourage your spouse?
III. MY LOVE IS A CHANNEL
- In order to be a channel of God’s love and blessing to your spouse, what two criteria must you meet? See 1 John 4:7.
- What do you think is the difference between being “born of God” and “knowing God?” Compare John 3:3-8 with Ephesians 1:17, 3:16-19, 4:11-15.
- Is it possible to be born of God, yet not know God? Explain. Apply to yourself.
- How does loving your spouse bring glory to God? Read Matthew 5:16, John 13:35 and Romans 13:8-10.
- Instead of expecting your spouse to meet your needs, when have you asked God to make you a channel of blessing to your spouse? See 2 Samuel 7:29.
- Do you think God loves your spouse?
- If God, who is love, is within you, and He loves your spouse, why isn’t His love filling you and overflowing into the life of your spouse? What is the blockage, and what do you need to do about it? See Ephesians 5:18.
- If you were the only channel of God’s love and blessing to your spouse, how loved and blessed would he or she be?
This Valentine’s Day, would you make the choice to love your spouse? Then, recommit yourself to loving him or her as a channel of God’s love in 2013.
©2012 Anne Graham Lotz