Do you believe that Jesus loves you? Do you believe He would sacrifice Himself for you? What about your spouse? Do you believe that Jesus loves your spouse? Do you believe Jesus would sacrifice Himself for him or her? Oh wait a minute; He did! That’s what we’re told in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” You and your spouse are a part of this “world” that compelled Jesus to sacrifice Himself on the cross and then be resurrected. Jesus loves you, and your spouse that much!
Our intent in this Insight is to remind you of the love that Jesus has for you. Furthermore, we want to point to the love He has for your spouse. It’s fruitful to give and receive reminders sometimes. But we also want to ask you: Do YOU love Jesus? Have you received and embraced His sacrifice on the cross for you? Do your actions reflect this love? Also, is He your Savior, AND your Lord? Yes, it’s vitally important that you accept Jesus as your Savior. But do you also give Him lordship of your life? Giving Jesus lordship requires taking another step closer in your devotion to God.
Loving as Jesus Loves
If you have made Jesus your Savior and Lord, do you show love to your spouse as Jesus loves you? Are you living your life, within your marriage, in a way that reflects His will and His heart?
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…” “…And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16, 18)
“It’s easy to forget that Jesus died for your spouse, and that He loves and cherishes him/her just as much as He loves you. God expects you to love your spouse the way He loves you—enough to sacrifice everything for you. And saying you’d die for your spouse isn’t enough. Love means living out your promise through acts of grace and mercy.” (Sue Schlesman)
Now, we want to clarify here that we aren’t talking about abusive issues. We have no doubt that God would direct you to respond to those relationship situations differently than you would to your spouse’s stumbles, bumbles, and cluelessness. Please go into our Abuse in Marriage topic to learn more about what to do in abusive situations. We’re talking here about everyday living with and loving your spouse, as Jesus would direct you to show love.
It’s important to know that:
“God feels passionately about the one you married. If you doubt His care and concern, consider this: He sent His only Son to die on behalf of your spouse. Think about how you treated your husband or wife this week. Is that how you want your son or daughter to be treated by his or her spouse? Never forget: you didn’t just marry a man or a woman; you married a son or daughter of God. Treat him, treat her, accordingly.” (Gary Thomas)
That’s difficult to remember sometimes when our spouse offends us in some way (or in many ways). But we need to work through those irritations and find “common ground.”
“Every love relationship begins on the common ground of mutual attraction, shared interests, likes and dislikes, dreams, goals, and desires. But the moment you exchanged vows with your spouse that common ground became holy ground because God designed marriage to be an extraordinary relationship. And anything God gets intimately involved with automatically becomes holy. It’s not a complicated idea. Really. Getting on common ground when you were dating or first married was easy; staying on common ground in your marriage for the long haul is hard work filled with wonderful highs and discouraging lows. (Joey O’Connor)
Sometimes you can get fixated on those “discouraging lows.” In everyday living together, that’s easy to do. We can even hit the “marriage doldrums” to the point that you would much rather do your own thing, rather than spend time with your spouse.
“In life and marriage it is inevitable that we occasionally hit the ‘doldrums.’ It’s not that things are really bad; it’s just that they become irritating. We find ourselves getting upset at the silliest things and there’s a constant air of frustration in the wind. …I’ve found that when life and marriage approaches these seasons, I need to double down on spiritual recalibration. Our walk with God is the foundation out of which love and life flows. Sometimes, rather than address a depressing attitude, frustration with children, or irritation with a spouse head on, I just need to focus more intensely on God.” (Gary Thomas, from his article: “Recalibrate: Breaking out of Spiritual and Marital Doldrums”)
When we are prone to dwell on the “low” times that occur in marriage, and take them in negative directions we need to apply Philippians 4:8-9. We are to focus instead:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard” concerning the ways of Jesus, “Put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
That is God’s promise to us when we do things His way instead of our own.
Jesus Loves and Gives Grace
When we married each other, we took on a very different mission for our lives. And giving each other grace is part of that mission. It’s important to keep in mind that:
“The relationship of a man and a woman in marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. When we demonstrate to our spouses the grace that Christ demonstrated to us, we experience true oneness in marriage. In 1 John 4:19 we’re told, ‘We love, because He first loved us.‘ Marriage works when a husband and wife remember that they are two sinners living together in a state of grace. It stops working when either of them forgets.” (Dave Boehi)
But when we give grace it’s also important to look at both sides:
“Grace isn’t blind. Nor is it without nerve endings. A call to a grace-filled marriage doesn’t mean we ignore, trivialize, or excuse our spouse’s unacceptable behavior. Grace doesn’t mean we lose our voice when it comes to dealing head-on with things that are clearly out of line. And grace doesn’t remove consequences. God’s grace is offered to us. But it isn’t realized if we’re unwilling to receive it properly. We have to repent. And our repentance must be more than an, ‘Oh, excuse me, Lord. I’m sorry.’ It requires us to own our actions and refuse to continue in our self-destructive way.” (Dr. Tim & Darcy Kimmel, from the book, “Grace Filled Marriage”)
We are all sinners. Your spouse does things he or she shouldn’t, and so do you. And unfortunately, sinners will irritate and hurt each other.
There’s no doubt that:
“On your own, you would ruin your marriage. But because the whole fullness of the deity dwells in you bodily [if you are a Christ-follower], you can love your spouse sacrificially. Whoever you are, and whatever God has called you to, move forward with courage and faith. You can do this because the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. You don’t have to live in timidity as a believer.” (Paul D. Tripp)
In closing, love your spouse, as Jesus loves:
“Make loving your spouse a top priority, second only to your relationship with Christ.” (Bob & Cheryl Moeller) …“Today, as you consider all the things that Christ has done in your life, honor Him by being a little kinder than necessary. Honor Him by slowing down long enough to say an extra word of encouragement.” (From the book, “Love is Forever”)
“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
“Love is a choice you make daily. As you make that choice, as the passage above says, the Lord will lead you into a greater understanding and expression of his love. He will teach you to love like he does.” (Dr. Gary Chapman)
Additionally, remember that:
“God’s ability to love unlovely people is available to us. We can open our hearts to God’s love and in essence say to Him, ‘Lord, you know the person with whom I live. You know I have great difficulty in seeing anything positive about him (or her). But I know that you love my spouse. I want to be your channel for loving him (or her) too. Use my hands, my tongue, and my body to express your love.’”
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We give a lot of personal stories, practical tips, and more marital advice in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else so you can invest in their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
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