Recently we went to see the movie Fireproof. I knew it was a movie about faithfulness in marriage, but I had no idea how anointed it would be. I don’t want to reveal all the details in case you haven’t seen it yet, but I would like to focus on a few powerful principles.
Because it is a movie, changes that may normally take a good deal longer are accomplished in a little over 40 days. So it is important to focus on the principles, not the time frame. God’s principles never change and we need to give Him the time it takes to work those principles in our own life and the life of our spouse.
Knowing the movie was about marriage, I had expected to see some depiction of marital fidelity, but I was truly surprised by the layers of truth sandwiched throughout the movie. One of those surprises was the generational fruit of faithfulness. Each of the parents of the central characters had challenges in their own marriages. One dealt with physical incapacity and the other with enemy attack against their unity. Both sets of parents demonstrated covenant fidelity and, in a very powerful way, their faithfulness overflowed into the next generation.
Another interesting facet was the influence of friends in the lives of the husband and wife whose marriage was disintegrating. One had a strong friend who spoke life and encouragement, the other had friends who gossiped and spoke death. It was quite revealing to see how each spouse was influenced by those they chose as friends.
Perhaps, though, the most powerful principles of marriage healing (and strengthening) were seen in the actions undertaken by the spouse who chose to stand for his marriage. He began where most of us begin, being willing to change and do things differently in order to receive the reaction he wanted from his wife. When that reaction did not come, the true challenge of unconditional love began.
There are many other facets of the movie that bring forth scriptural truths, but I would like to focus at this time on unconditional love. Many of you have written and asked what exactly unconditional love is and how it is manifested. Some believe it is letting their spouse do whatever he or she wishes and not objecting. Others believe it is forgiving and going on as if nothing has happened. Others are completely confused somewhere between unconditional love and tough love.
Standing for our marriage certainly made me no expert on unconditional love. I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things wrong. I could so relate to the garbage can and baseball bat scene in the movie. Mine was glasses and a garage door. Anyway, back to the topic…
Jesus is our example of complete unconditional love. He gave His life for us, both in how He lived it and how He died. He stands with open arms ready to welcome the sinner. He remains faithful even when we are not. He forgives and restores. He has His priorities straight. He sees the beginning from the end and walks in faith regardless of circumstances.
Equally important, though, is what He is not and does not do. He does not compromise with sin. He does not play games or attempt to manipulate us. He gives us free choice and does not try to force His will upon us. Even when we choose poorly, He does not tell others what we have done. Instead He intercedes for us and does not give up on us.
So what does that mean when you are walking out unconditional love with your spouse? I remember years ago when I was studying to become a nurse. As we approached graduation many of us were concerned we had not done enough procedures. I remember our instructors telling us, “Learn the principle behind the action. If you know the principle, you can even invent a new procedure.”
It was little comfort at the time but when I went to work after graduation I began to see what they were telling us. You can either be event based or principle based. If you are event based, you must learn what to do in each new event. That can cause great anxiety if you don’t know what the next event will be. It is hard to always be prepared. If you are principle based, though, you can rely on the principle to carry you through any event. So, learn the principles of God’s word and you will know what to do when a new event comes your way.
1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to begin learning the principles of unconditional love. I believe those verses can be summed up like this: I don’t care how holy or righteous you think you are, if you aren’t walking in love, your message stinks.
There was a season when I thought I was my husband’s Holy Spirit and I let him know what God liked and didn’t like about his actions. I felt justified because I was the Christian and I knew what God’s word said. Then one day the Lord began to break my heart for my husband. Instead of seeing him from my point of view, I began to see him from God’s. That day unconditional love began to grow in my heart.
I cannot tell you what to do in each situation you face with your spouse. All I can do is encourage you to know the principles of God’s word. Giving your spouse everything he or she wants is not unconditional love. If your spouse is being led around by the enemy, what he or she wants is probably going to be perverted by that influence. Don’t let the devil lead the parade. That is not unconditional love.
At the same time, don’t stand in haughty self-righteousness and look down upon your spouse. Be led of the Holy Spirit. Spend time in prayer and in the Word and learn God’s heart regarding the issues of life. Ask Him for help when you don’t know what to do. Do as Jesus did and only do what the Father is doing. Each time you are faced with a decision regarding your spouse, go to the Lord and ask Him what to do. Don’t react to pressure from your spouse or anyone else. Don’t give in just to appease your spouse or anyone else. Walking in unconditional love means letting the One who is love rule and reign in your life.
No one on earth knows you as Jesus does. No one on earth knows your spouse as Jesus does. The Lord will direct your steps, He will give you the words you need, and He will help you cut through the myriad of circumstances to see things clearly from His point of view. He is the only one who can lead you consistently in unconditional love. And if you haven’t seen Fireproof yet, you really should. Love, Marilyn
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 john 2:5
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8