Sharon and I have been married 19 years and 4 months. To say that it has been all full of bliss would be a lie. In fact, like many of you, we have learned through our brokenness what love truly is and ultimately what marriage truly is. These are a few things I have learned.
Live for Jesus. What are you living for in your marriage? In my life, I wasn’t living for Jesus nor was I living for my marriage. I spent a bulk of the early years of marriage living for myself. There is not enough space to stress this point enough. Even in the great marriage chapter of the Bible, Ephesians 5, you will find that submission is not about the husband, but about Christ; leading in a marriage is not about the wife but about Christ. There are many other verses that apply to marriage for all of us to reflect on regularly.
Treat your spouse how you would like to be treated. When was the last time you enjoyed getting yelled at for breaking something that can be easily replaced? When was the last time someone gave you the cold shoulder and won you over to their “side” in an argument? The Scriptures say in Luke 6:31, “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” The context of this verse is loving your enemies! So often we go out of our way for our neighbors and coworkers while failing with our own spouse. Another key verse for marriage is found in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Live out the gospel. You are first and foremost living out the gospel for your spouse and then to a watching world. While I was still a childish, selfish brat, Sharon pursued and loved me. When I did and said hurtful things, Sharon loved me. This correlates beautifully to the gospel in that while I was still in sin, Christ died for me (Romans 5:6-8). When I wanted all the glory, Christ extended grace to me. When I worshiped my own idols and pursued my own pleasures, Christ died for me. When a husband and wife fail there is a constant, not perfect, but a constant picture of grace within the home and a picture of the greater grace that was extended through God to us in Jesus Christ. I don’t deserve the grace of God because of my brokenness, just like in many ways I don’t deserve the grace of my wife because of my brokenness. Yet, because of Jesus and his extension of grace to us, and his example, we can extend undeserved merit (grace) to each other. It should be noted that confession (not just “I’m sorry” but “do you forgive me for…”) and repentance (a commitment not to do that again) are steps as well that should be present in our day to day processes to foster a rich relationship for grace to abound.
So, who is the focus of your marriage? Are you treating your spouse in a manner that would encourage you? How is your marriage reflecting God’s grace to you?
Verses for reflection: Ephesians 4:17-32; 1 John 1:5-10; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Ephesians 1:3-14; Romans 5:6-11; John 15:12-17