BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fourth of a special BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on marriage—timed to coincide with the week of Valentine’s Day. You can read Part One, by John Henderson at 7 Truths for a Christ-Centered Marriage, Part Two by Andrew Rogers at How Do I Enjoy My Spouse?, and Part Three by Keri Seavey at Your Spouse Is Not Jesus.
Thinking about celebrating Valentine’s Day brings to mind great love stories. The movie, Sound of Music, is one of my favorites. Seen as a problem, the exuberant Maria becomes governess to the seven children of an Austrian submarine Captain, Georg von Trapp. As the story unfolds, Maria and the Captain discover their love for each other and commit to a lifetime together. This is just the way I like a story, a most happy ending with not too much sadness in the middle. Good one to watch with your Valentine this Valentine’s weekend.
Unfortunately, not all love stories end with “and they lived happily ever after.” The classic, Romeo and Juliet, ends with both lovers killing themselves over a tragic misunderstanding.
The love story that has made the biggest impact on me is the true one of Robertson McQuilkin’s love for his wife, Muriel. Probably many of you are familiar with Robertson’s story of love for his wife when Muriel became infirmed with Alzheimer’s. Robertson gladly gave up his influential position as President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary to become a homemaker and caregiver to Muriel. My wife and I were students at Columbia during the time that he was caring for his wife. When we would drive by their home, I could picture Robertson within caring for his Muriel. This practical, sacrificial demonstration has helped me be a better lover of my wife.
A Biblical Definition of Love for Consideration
There is something else from Robertson McQuilkin that God has used greatly to help me be a growing lover of my wife. Years before Robertson was caring for Muriel, he had written a book on Christian ethics entitled An Introduction to Biblical Ethics. In the very beginning, he explains that as Christians all our behavior must be based on love. On page 10, he provides this definition:
“Biblical love is an affectionate disposition that motivates the lover to consistently act for the welfare of another, whether or not the other deserves it or reciprocates.”
Many times the Spirit has brought this definition to mind, when my love for my wife was faltering. It has been an excellent yardstick to measure my love for my wife, Beth. Unfortunately, my love for her has been too often affected by whether or not she is reciprocating love to me in a way that I appreciate. May God continue to use this definition from McQuilkin as a tool to admonish me.
What Is in Our Hearts?
How about the definition of love that you live by in your heart? Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Do you have a definition? Does it match well with God’s examples and teachings of love in His Word?
Having an unclear, weak, poor, or wrong understanding or definition of love in our hearts will have a disastrous effect on our love for others. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18).
May I humbly suggest that each of us take some time this Valentine’s Day week to fully see what definition of love we are operating from in our hearts? Having a biblical definition of love hidden in our hearts will help each of us be part of a great love story with our spouses. May our own love story be the “sound of music” to our God’s ears!
Join the Conversation
What biblical definition of love are you operating from in your heart as you relate to your spouse?