The Secret that Isn’t a Secret

secretTITLE: The Secret that Isn’t a Secret

SUBJECT: Relationships

PROPOSITION: This lesson is about learning to love one another as God loves us.

OBJECTIVE: Each person should realize that he is responsible to love his neighbor as himself.

AIM: For each to understand: true love abandons self instead of abandoning relationships.


1. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

2. About the Text:

1) God wanted people in His world.

2) He created Adam and Eve and gave them this command.

3) “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . . .” (Genesis 1:28).

4) What in the world was He thinking?

5) In the words of Charles Schultz’ character Linus, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand!”

6) How do we get all bent out of shape in our relationships?

3. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.


I.   The Best of Intentions

1. On the surface, most people want to get along with one another.

1) We greet our neighbors when we see them.

2) We may say “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” to the cashiers in the store.

3) We are polite.

4) But sometimes people are rude.

2. By and large, our relationships with other people are shallow: acquaintances.

1) Our children’s teachers at school.

2) The cashiers at the local grocery or hardware store.

3) Doctors and nurses, etc.

4) We know little about their life.

3. We develop deeper relationships with some people: friends.

1) People that we work with daily.

2) People that we go to church with.

3) People that we socialize with.

4. Our deepest relationships are with our family.

1) Our parents are our first deepest relationships.

2) We bring what we learn from them into the families that we make.

3) We reserve the deepest relationship we have for our spouse.

5. We have the best of intentions to make the best of these relationships.

1) “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).

2) So we decide to find someone to settle down with and get married.

II.  How Relationships Develop

1. The Appearances Phase

1) You can’t see the faults in the other person because they won’t let you see them.

2) This is the stage where you are not allowed to see the other person before they are ready for you to see them.

3) Everything is perfect.

a. She is the absolute most gorgeous thing you have ever seen.

b. He is the most handsome, generous, and kind person you have ever known.

c. He/she meets every expectation you have in a person.

d. You sing Garth Brook’s love songs to each other before you go to bed each night.

e. Two of a kind lyrics: “She’s my lady luck and he’s my wildcard man.”

4) All you are seeing is the appearances and not the reality.

2. The Honeymoon Phase

1) You can’t see the faults in the other person because you don’t want to see them.

2) You are so infatuated with the other person that nothing they do is wrong.

a. He wears the same dirty clothes around the house, but you don’t care.

b. You see that she’s gained thirty pounds, but it’s cute.

3) You rationalize their behavior.

a. He’ll take a shower eventually – he’s still my hard working man.

b. She’ll lose weight – she’s still my honey baby sweetie poochie pie.

3. The Reality Phase

1) You begin to see the faults in the other person because you can’t ignore them.

a. She lets the stinky dishes pile up in the sink until the roaches come out of the drain.

b. He sits on the couch watching videos and making rude noises and stinky smells.

2) Is this what married life is all about?

4. The Problem Phase

1) You see many faults in the other person because they are changing your life.

a. I guess I will do the dishes since no one else is going to do them.

b. I suppose I will have to spray the living room with deodorant before the neighbors call the fire department for a gas leak!

2) You begin to compare them to others:

a. My mother never cooked like that!

b. My daddy never treated my mother that way.

c. Jack down the street is always bringing flowers to his wife.

d. Jill hasn’t gained an ounce of weight since she started dating.

3) You get validation from your friends.

a. He’s just being a jerk and inconsiderate.

b. She’s so selfish; she doesn’t care about you.

4) You begin to say things like:

a. “This is not the person I married.”

b. “You never listen to me anymore.”

c. “You used to not be like this.”

d. “What happened to us?”

5) Maybe you begin to leave scriptures around the house for your spouse to find.

a. “Wives obey your husbands!” – I will change her!

b. “Husbands love your wives!” – I will change him!

6) You go through the five stages of grief.

a. Denial – “This isn’t happening to me. LALALALALALALA.”

b. Anger – “I’m going to kill him if he leaves one more sock on the floor!”

c. Bargaining – “I’ll take you out for dinner if you clean the kitchen.” – Emotional Bank Account reasoning.

d. Depression – “Why did I marry this guy/girl? Poor me!”

e. Acceptance – “I am going to have to live with this horrible person for the rest of my life!”

7) You’re still singing Garth Brooks, but now it’s “The Thunder Rolls.”

5. The Decision Phase

1) It occurs to you that there is a way out.

2) It’s a secret that you would never talk to him about because you’re just not supposed to think about it or do it.

3) You wouldn’t talk to your parents or the other church members about it.

4) It’s shameful to even think about it, after all, God hates it (Malachi 3:16).

5) But it’s persistent; it keeps nagging at you until you feel like it is the only option left.

6) The other person has so many faults that you just can’t stand.

7) You feel like you must make a decision.

8) If they won’t do what you want them to do then it is time for . . . D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

9) So, you rationalize it by saying: “I just don’t love him/her anymore.”

10) The secret that isn’t a secret is that you can end this relationship anytime you want.

11) And guess what? Your spouse is probably thinking the same thing.

12) Where did it all go wrong?

III. Where We Went Wrong

1. It’s time to admit the truth.

1) It’s not my spouse that is the problem; I am!

2) Yes, if you are thinking like this, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

3) It could be one of you or both of you that are thinking this way.

4) It is unloving and ungodly to say, “I will get rid of you.”

2. The problem: You didn’t really love your spouse for who they were, but what you wanted them to be.

1) You loved them because you thought they could fulfill your expectations.

2) Your love was really all about you.

3) You didn’t love them with a godly love.

a. Your “love” had no grace in it.

b. Your “love” had no mercy in it.

c. Your “love” was selfish instead of selfless.

4) You were looking to get something out of the relationship instead of give something.

5) You failed to learn that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

3. You must change!

1) Understand what real love is!

2) True love abandons self and self’s desires instead of abandoning relationships.

3) Think about Philippians 2:5ff.

4) Love is not about manipulating someone else to do what you want.

5) Think about what Jesus said in Luke 6:27-36.

6) Now think about what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40.

7) Colossians 3:14 – “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” – Love is the bond!


1. When we learn to love as Jesus loved us . . .

1) We will not withdraw our love because someone else doesn’t met our expections.

2) We will not abandon relationships to fulfill selfish desires.

3) We will be love other people graciously without reserve.

4) We will love people for who they are, not for what we want them to be.

2. Invitation