How much do you believe that Jesus loves you? Are you important to Him? Do you sense His love for you and believe He made sacrifices for you? Do you believe He would die for you? Oh wait a minute; He did!
What about your spouse? Do you believe that Jesus loves your spouse? Is he/she important to Him? Do you believe He made sacrifices for him or her? Do you believe He would die for your spouse? Oh wait a minute; He did!
These aren’t trick questions. They’re questions to help remind you of the love that Jesus has for you AND for your spouse. The next questions are, do you love Jesus? Is He your Lord —not just Savior. Yes, it’s important that Jesus is your Savior. But is He your Lord? Are you willing to love as He loves? Are you willing to live your life, especially within your marriage, in a way that reflects His heart? When others see how you treat your spouse, can they see Christ working within you?
This is God’s heart for you:
“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 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 [especially your spouse]. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:1-8)
Love as Jesus Loves
That is the challenge that is before us when we claim to love Christ, and we marry —to love as Christ. Britto M. Berchmans (of Familyministries.org) wrote something to consider:
“A week before his wedding, the groom-to-be asked his best man: ‘How much does a marriage license cost?’ He replies, ‘Thirty dollars for now and all the money you make the rest of your life.’
“There are people who view marriage more as an expense than an investment. They don’t realize that the output depends on the input. Unfortunately, people invest far more energy and time into their work, their properties, and leisure’s than they spend on their marriage. Yet the health of their marriage can depend on how much they’re willing to invest in the cause and the cost of loving their spouse on a daily basis.”
Reflecting the Love of Jesus
Are you revealing and reflecting the love of Christ within your marriage? Does your spouse see Jesus in you? Even if he or she isn’t living for Christ, are you standing in the way blocking them from being able to see Him, if they have a mind to?
In the Focusonthefamily.com article, “Does Your Spouse See Jesus in You?” Matthew White gives important challenge:
“If you really want your spouse to see Jesus in you, you have to genuinely put into practice an attitude of becoming more like Christ in everything you do. This is not a simple, one-time event. It is an everyday struggle. It’s not easy to act like Jesus in every situation. In fact, it’s notably difficult. We live in a world where it’s much easier to do what feels good or take the easy way out. But, becoming more like Jesus involves sacrificial love. It takes a servant’s heart; it means forgiving when it’s not easy to forgive. And it takes a concerted effort toward humility and self-forgetfulness!”
It also sometimes takes an attitude adjustment (which we all need at times). Dr Gary Chapman wrote something important on this issue in the Thrivingfamily.com article, “How to Truly Love Your Spouse.”
Concerning Loving, Dr Chapman wrote:
“One of the great tragedies of our culture is that we have equated love with warm emotional feelings. In fact, these warm romantic feelings are the result of love, not the essence of love. This is why love can be commanded, as in Ephesians 5:25: ‘Husbands, love your wives‘; and love can be taught and learned, as noted in Titus 2:4, where the older women are instructed to teach the younger women to love their husbands. God doesn’t command emotions, but He often commands attitudes and behavior.
“The good news is that whatever God commands, He enables us to do. In the early days of my marriage, my wife and I were fairly miserable. We both wondered if we had married the wrong person. In my desperation, I said to God, ‘I don’t know what else to do, and I am asking for Your help.’ As soon as I prayed that prayer, there came to my mind a visual image of Jesus on His knees, washing the feet of His followers. I sensed God say to me, ‘that’s the problem in your marriage. You don’t have the attitude of Christ toward your wife.’
A New Perspective
“I knew what He said was true. At that time, my attitude toward my wife was, ‘Look, I know how to have a good marriage. If you will listen to me, we’ll have one.’ She wouldn’t listen, so I blamed her for our poor marriage.
“God gave me a new perspective. The problem was not her but my attitude. I said, ‘Lord, forgive me. With all of my study in Greek, Hebrew and theology, I missed the whole point of love. Please give me the attitude of Christ toward my wife. Let me see her as one whom You love, and let me be Your agent for loving her.’
“In retrospect, it was the greatest prayer I’ve ever prayed regarding my marriage because God changed my attitude.”
I confess that I prayed a similar prayer a number of years ago. Steve and I appeared to have what is called a “Christian marriage.” In this marriage, I assumed God would see and also understand that, “it’s the man He gave me” that was causing all the problems we were having. (This is just like Adam, who blamed his wife Eve, for his own sin. But now it was me who was doing the blaming.)
I was wrong. Just because we were both Christians, it doesn’t mean that we had a Christian marriage. I came to better understand this when I read something that Drs. David and Jan Stoop wrote on this issue. It’s the fact that a marriage doesn’t become “Christian” just because two Christians marry. They wrote:
“What makes a marriage truly Christian is that we AS A COUPLE are seeking to restore in our lives part of what was lost in the Garden of Eden [before they sinned]. We not only strive to become more whole as an individual, we want our marriage to be more of what God intended marriage to be. It’s to be a complete, satisfying union of two people with God. There’s intimacy together with each other and together with God. Unless our search for spiritual intimacy with God is part of our behavior as a couple, there is little else that distinguishes a marriage as being truly Christian.”
Disconnection to Truth
That’s the problem we had going for us. We both claimed to love Christ. But that doesn’t mean that we always showed each other love as Jesus does. There was a disconnect. We showed love in a way that made sense to us, not necessarily God’s way. I came to realize that often times I treated Steve in disrespectful ways. I said things to Steve and acted towards him in ways that I wouldn’t have if Jesus were in the room. Oh wait a minute, He was! I just didn’t realize it.
God helped me to see that Steve’s actions (and what I interpreted as to how they affected me) didn’t justify my acting disrespectful. My words, the way I contentiously said them, plus my (prideful) motives were not Christ-like. I asked for forgiveness and prayed that God would help me to treat my husband, as He would have me.
What’s amazing is that the more respectful and loving I was towards Steve —giving grace when I should and “speaking the truth in love” when I should, the more HIS actions changed in positive ways too. Go figure!
No Magic Formula
Please know that I’m not saying this prayer “formula” will always bring about a positive change in our spouse. It may, or it may not. But that isn’t the point. We’re told in Ephesians 5:1 to “be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” There’s no “if” clause included —IF my spouse acts in ways that I think he or she should… THEN I will be an imitator of God and love “as Christ” loves.
Lastly, we want to ask you, are you showing your spouse love “the way that Jesus loves you?” If you are… we encourage you to continue. We celebrate with you. If you aren’t, however, we pray that God will help you to change in the ways you should. We hope with all our hearts that you will. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the attitudes, and actions you need to work on and change.
We pray for you:
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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