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. Danny and I were engaged to be married in February of 1966.
February is the month of love. Of Valentines. Of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy, long-stemmed red roses, romantic candlelit dinners and Hallmark cards. At least that’s 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 almost 49 years as Mrs. Danny Lotz, I know I learned a lot about loving my spouse. And by far, most of what I learned came from time meditating on God’s Word.
Read John 21:1-22.
What do you think love is? Write out your definition before completing this Bible study. As you go through these passages, substitute the words one another, brother or friend with spouse, husband or wife.
I. MY LOVE IS A CHOICE
- What message does 1 John 3:11 say we have heard from the beginning?
- Is this message given as a suggestion, an option or a command?
- Where else is this message given, and by whom? Read 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 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 this is not optional?
- 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 in Matthew 7:3-5 about focusing on the faults of others.
- What needs to happen before you can love your spouse deeply? Read 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; 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 in 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 them?
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 of 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 or neglecting you, for _____________? See Luke 6:37; Matthew 6:12; 18:23-35; Mark 11:25.
- Why should you forgive your spouse, according to Colossians 3:13?
- How often should you forgive your spouse? Read Matthew 18:21-22. Does this mean 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? Read 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? Read 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; 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? Read Ephesians 5:18.
- If you were the only channel of God’s love and blessing to your spouse, how loved and blessed would they 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 2022. And I wonder … could your demonstration of God’s love be the very challenge your church needs in this age of Biblical illiteracy as evidence of the powerful authenticity of God’s Word? ©2022 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in February 2013.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, which she co-authored with her daughter Rachel-Ruth Wright, is “Jesus Followers: Real-Life Lessons for Igniting Faith in the Next Generation.” It is available from major booksellers online.