“Bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“I want a divorce.” For six weeks this husband repeated his desire to his wife. “You’re not meeting my needs. I’m out of here.” She had been consumed with caring for her father in the hospital and their three children. He had been consumed…with himself.
For six weeks she refused his request. All she did was say, “I love you…” and pray for him. She committed to war-room-like prayer. She surrounded herself with strong Christian women who fought for her marriage in prayer as well.
One night a friend showed up at their door at 11:30. God had prompted the friend to drive over—not knowing anything that was happening—and challenged the husband for the next two hours. God broke through. Repentance, healing, and restoration followed in their marriage.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul writes that Christ-followers are to be “bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). The word “bear” can also be translated, “endure” or “forbear.” The Apostle Peter writes that “love covers over a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). But how do we live that out in the dailyness of marriage?
Here are four thoughts about how we can bear with our spouse in marriage:
1. Bearing is an act of love
There were four different Greek words Paul could have used for “love.” The word he chose was agape. It means a self-sacrificing love for another whether or not it is reciprocated. It’s the same word used for Christ’s sacrifice of love for us on the cross.
When we choose to bear with our spouse, we are choosing to tolerate things that may bother us or differences we share. If their clothes don’t get picked up after multiple requests or there is some other ongoing infraction of forgetfulness, we make the choice to be “bearing with” them out of love.
When we are bearing with our spouse, we are bringing into our marriage a living picture of God’s love for us. A little later in Paul’s letter he writes, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). Bearing with our spouse does exactly that.
2. Bearing in their bad moments
Sometimes things are said that are immediately regretted. The words were poorly chosen. The tone was sharp. The retort was unkind.
Instead of flaring up and firing back, you may choose to recognize that it was out of character for them. They are having a “bad moment” and need the grace you have received from Jesus.
3. Bearing on their bad days
We all have bad days. We stub our toe on the way to the bathroom, trip over toys as we head to the garage—and the day continues to go downhill! There are times when we are simply crabby for no apparent reason. And our spouse has days like that, too.
Bearing with one another in love gives space to our spouse to regroup and recoup. We choose to show tolerance and patience, inwardly acknowledging that, “Tomorrow is another day” and a fresh start for you…and your mate.
4. Bearing in a bad season
In marriage, we choose to stand with our spouse when they are struggling. We’ve watched husbands and wives stay close by and support their spouse through the ups and downs of overcoming addictions. Others have graciously walked the journey of mental illness. Sometimes it’s a season of unemployment or illness.
Bearing with one another in love is an enduring decision. It says, “I will support, encourage, believe in, and build you up all along the journey just as Christ has done for me.”
Marriage takes work, determination, and grace. Just as the wife above kept saying, “I love you…” and chose to be bearing with her husband in love through his rebellion, we can make the same choices in little and big ways as well. This week look for opportunities to bear with your spouse. As you do, you will build your marriage.