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What is One Crucial Thing Your Marriage Needs to Lose?

What is One Crucial Thing Your Marriage Needs to Lose?

The Bible has a lot to say about love: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…” (1 John 3:16). Also in Romans 5:8, it says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When it comes to our marriages, the one particular passage of Scripture we usually think about is 1 Corinthians 13, or the “love chapter.” Odds are, this passage was even read at your own wedding. But, one of my favorite verses about love comes the recorded words of Jesus found in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

For me, that really hits home. It points to the one thing I, and likely many of us, need to lose in our marriages: ourselves.

Our culture teaches us to value ourselves as the most important, not each other. Most of our daily decisions our based on our own needs, not the needs of another. It's sad to say, but many times our motivations at the workplace and in the home are shaped by an enlarged view of ourselves.

But, greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends! If we really are loving someone else, we are laying down ourselves – our own wishes, wants, needs and desires.

Back in 1 Corinthians 13, when the apostle Paul writes about love, the first description he uses is “patience.” “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). There’s a reason that patience is first thing used to describe or define love. Without patience, you have no love.

My wife reminds me often of my lack of patience. I get easily frustrated when something doesn't happen when I think it should. When most of us find ourselves being impatient, the root of it is selfishness. It is regarding ourselves as more important than another. Our own time is more valuable than someone else's.

Selfishness, when it’s present in a marriage, is a disease. It is the opposite of true love. When it infiltrates a relationship, the only possible result is decay. When most marriages fall apart, I would contend the root cause is selfishness. There are many typical reasons cited for divorce: finances, infidelity and irreconcilable difference, among others. But, they are all rooted in selfishness. And, where “selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

On the other hand, patience is complete selflessness. It’s counting another as more important than yourself. In the Christian walk, selflessness is required to live out the commandments given by Jesus to love God above all and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Every successful marriage needs two selfless people, each valuing the needs of their spouse above their own. Consider the traditional wedding vows: “I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” It takes a completely selfless person to do this.

In the presence of love, there’s no room for selfish ambition. For real love isn’t envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or resentful. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

We all want to show our spouses the greatest amount of love we can. The biblical prescription for that is a pretty tall order though. It goes against our human nature. It goes against our “me, not we” mindset.

It's hard find words that appropriate describe the amount of love I have for my wife. But, if there's one thing I know that is too prevalent in my own marriage, it's me.

We need to lay down our own lives – our own pride and selfish ambition – to truly display the type of love God intends. For greater love has no one than to lay down his life for another.

That kind of love is void of self. That kind of love is patient and selfless. If you are anything like me, you have a lot of work to do.

Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at You can also follow him on Twitter.

Publication date: February 23, 2015