One of the most important decisions a person will ever make is about who they marry.  Christians should always and only marry faithful Christians (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Both parents and children must do their part to ensure that this is what happens (2 Tim. 2:2).

Let us take a look at some sobering statistics based on a study of two churches of Christ in America.

The first is the Church of Christ, B Street, Miami, Oklahoma (1957-1977).  In these years, only 45% of the marriages (64 out of 143) were Christian to Christian.  Is it any wonder why the church was growing so weak during these years?  When Christians married non-Christians, 79% of Christians left the faith, and 32% divorced.  When Christians married Christians, 92% remained faithful, and only 3% divorced.

Another example is the Bridges Street Church of Christ, Wynne, Arkansas (1962-1981).  In these years, only 27% of the marriages (28 out of 104) were between Christians.  When Christians married non-Christians, 80% of Christians left the faith, and 30% divorced.  When Christians married Christians, 86% remained faithful, and 14% divorced.

Overall, 63% of marriages in the two congregations were Christian to non-Christian; of these, 76% of Christians became unfaithful, and 31% divorced.  In Christian-to-Christian marriages, 90% remained faithful, and only 6.5% divorced.

Statistics aren’t the reason we should do anything, but they certainly demonstrate God’s wisdom.  In our secular work, our family relationships, our marriages, in business and in every aspect of our lives, we should show Christian behavior—integrity.


A Psalm of David. I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.  2. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.  2. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  4. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.  5. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.  6. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.  7. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.  8. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD” (Psa. 101:1-8).


Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).

Why will having the perfect love cause us to have “boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17)?  If we ever need boldness it will be on Judgment Day.  As already noted, we gain that perfect love by obeying all of his commandments (1 John 2:4).  It is reasonable that we would have boldness before God if have obeyed all of his commandments.  Obeying every command of God, is to please him in everything (John 8:29)!  Only when we disobey the commands of God do we need to fear him.  This is why the perfect (complete, ‘teleios’) love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Some have no fear to cast out.  Why fear, they ask, when we are already saved?  For some, faith alone casts out fear.  For others, baptism and worshipping faithfully alone casts out all fear.  For others, ignorance prevents them from knowing their real situation and thus having natural fear.  None of these is said to cast out all fear in scripture.  In fact, the scripture commands us to have fear.  Read what the Lord commanded one of the most faithful, favored and ‘already saved’ congregations in New Testament times:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil. 2:12)

Some counter – this is only “reverence fear.”  That definition can not be correct.  He told the Philippians to fear and tremble.  True, Daniel and others in a vision trembled and fainted, but these brethren in Philippi were not seeing a vision.  They were commanded to work out their own salvation.  Why work out their own salvation if they already have it?  They did not have the crown yet.  Paul testified to these same Philippians that he did not have the crown yet.  They were like Timothy who was told to lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12).  He did not have eternal life or he would not have been commanded to lay hold on it.  True Timothy was directed not to fear (1 Tim 1:7) but this referred to the fear of man (1 Cor. 16:10).  We are told that “The fear of man bringeth a snare” (Pro. 29:25), but Jesus was very clear that there is a fear we must have.  We must fear God:

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him  (Luke 12:4-5).

Fear of being cast into hell is not reverence fear – it is the fear that has terror!  We are commanded to “. . . pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:17).  The only thing in the scriptures that will cast out “the fear that has terror,” is the perfect love (1 John 4:18).  Herein lies our incentive to run diligently, as if only “one receiveth the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24-26).

SCRIPTURAL LOVE: Comprised of Many Parts

Love is not merely one entity but is made up of many different parts.  There are many different kinds of love.  Bible love is by no means the same as the world’s love.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).  God is surely not the same as the world!  God’s love is comprised of many different parts.  He lists several of these parts in what has been called the ‘love chapter’ (1 Cor. 13).

Love  1)  “suffereth long, and  2)  is kind; charity  3)  envieth not; charity  4)  vaunteth not itself,  5)  is not puffed up, 6)  Doth not behave itself unseemly,  7)  seeketh not her own,  8)  is not easily provoked,  9)  thinketh no evil;  10)  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but  11)  rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

Someone may counter that these qualities are mostly negative. Though many of these parts are negative, we can understand that for every negative there is generally a corresponding positive. if love does not vaunt itself, it must be humble.  If it does not behave itself ‘unseemly,’ it must behave itself ‘seemly.’  If love does not seek her own, then  it must seek other’s good, etc.  There are many other parts of God’s love which are not listed in 1 Corinthians 13.    Every good part of God is a part of his love and the love of Christ, who is “. . .the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). If we grow in Christ’s love we are growing in the love of God.

If our love lacks kindness, longsuffering, humility, or any other part, it is not the complete (perfect) love of Christ.  We need to acquire each part to be “in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  We grow into that complete love by keeping his commandments – which is the third part of the great commission – “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”  (Matt. 28:20).   We note what happens when someone has completely fulfilled the third part of the Great Commission.  He declares: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:5).  Full obedience to the great commission ends in forming the perfect love of God in the disciple’s heart.  Willing obedience to even one of the commandments of God, will give us a part of the love of Christ.  Willingly obeying all of his commands will surely perfect (complete) all of the parts of Christ’s love in us.  This is in line with the definition of love that Jesus gave the apostles just before his crucifixion.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.  (John 14:21-24)

Loving God with some of our heart, soul and mind, means obeying some of his commandments.  Obeying the greatest command to “. . .love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37), is to keep all of his commandments.  Obedience to all of the commands will produce the complete love in our hearts (1 John 2:5).  This is identical to John’s definition in the last chapter of first John.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 Jn 5:2-3).

Thus, if we obey the first part of the great commission, we will make disciples whose aim and goal is to be like their master by obeying all things whatsoever Christ commands (Matt. 28:19, 20).