Marriage and the Gospel
How to Love Your Spouse the Way Jesus Loves Us
“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
I have read and re-read Ephesians 5:32 countless times over the past 30+ years, (and even had it as one of our wedding verses)! But, as so often happens, God opens our eyes to reveal new insights to us on repeated readings as we learn and grow in our faith. It was at our church's women's retreat in 2019 when it hit me. I realized that the mystery of the Gospel that Paul was talking about here was not only one of significant spiritual meaning, but that we could live out that truth in practical ways as well. I mean, if our marriages are meant to represent the Gospel, and how Jesus, the Bridegroom, loves us, His church and Bride... then shouldn't we take those concepts and apply them to our real-life marriages here on earth?
Let’s look at some of the ways Jesus loves us, and how it can help us live out that love in our marriages.
Jesus loves us:
Jesus made a binding commitment to us, when He made us His own, through the promises of His Word. When we come to Him in repentance and faith, He promises us we are His for now and eternity. And we can trust Him because He always has and always will keep His Word.
That should also be #1 in our marriages, that we always keep the promise we made to one another to be faithfully committed for a lifetime. The vows we made to one another before God and witnesses are a binding covenant. Let’s honor that promise and keep our word as Jesus does with us.
(Please note: This does not refer to cases where any sort of abuse of any kind, physical or mental, is involved. If that is your situation, please seek immediate help from trusted clergy and the proper authorities.)
When God designed earthly marriage to symbolize the relationship between Jesus and His Church, He gave us the beautiful expression of love and oneness we share in sexual intimacy with our spouses. That is why fidelity is of ultimate importance because He wants us to always be faithful to Him and not chase after other “lovers” or “idols”. Just as we never want our spouses to love another (besides God) more than they love us, He doesn’t want us to put any other love before Him either. Our hearts (and our bodies) belong to Him and our spouses only. The act of sexual relations in marriage is meant to be shared only by those joined to one another in that covenant relationship. It foreshadows the oneness we will eventually share more fully with our Lord when He takes us to be with Him forever. It is an earthly picture of a spiritual reality, just as the marriage covenant symbolizes our relationship with Christ in the New Covenant when we join ourselves to Him through faith.
3. With Forgiveness and Grace
Jesus also loves us with an abundance of grace and forgiveness, which He demonstrated on the cross. Because He forgives us, we are then empowered to forgive our spouses when they sin against us. Are we quick to offer mercy or grace? Or do we “keep score” and expect them to “pay” for any wrongs they do? Are we willing to overlook the little annoyances or irritations (like leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor)? Or do we continually nag and “remind” them of every infraction?
Of course, serious sin must be dealt with and not overlooked. But, too often we are less than willing to offer grace for that which is not really sinful, but rather a preference issue.
4. With Loving Communication
Jesus also communicates with us, because He loves us. He does this through His Word and prayer. This shows us that we should also develop healthy communication in our marriages. Are we responding with defensiveness or spending more time formulating our reply rather than carefully listening and considering their words? Thankfully, the Bible gives us ample guidance on how to communicate more positively and effectively. Using the Lord's prayer as our model, when Jesus taught us to pray and communicate with our Heavenly Father, we can learn how to speak with respect, share our needs, meet our spouses' needs, and more! (See below):
I think the most significant way that Jesus loves us is sacrificially. He put our needs—with our biggest being forgiveness and salvation—ahead of all of His. He demonstrated a servant’s heart so much so that He laid down His own life for our good and our salvation. If Jesus loved us that much, how can we not demonstrate more of that selfless love with the one whom we share the closest bond here on earth? When we consider the other person’s needs before our own and demonstrate that kind of sacrificial love with each other in marriage, many of the other areas are taken care of as well. Selfless, sacrificial love is at the heart of the Gospel. And, if the Gospel is at the heart of our marriages, they can't help but succeed.
What are some ways you see Jesus demonstrating His love toward us? How can you live out these examples in your own marriage and relationships?
Some of my favorite resources for a Biblical marriage:
(click each for details)
daily devotionals, devotions, Bible study for women, Bible journaling, Bible studies for small groups, Biblical marriage principles, Jesus devotionals, quiet time, Bible study tools, Bible journaling methods, God's Word for women
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