“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it“ (Psalm 127:1).
The homes we are building —within our lives and our marriages, are not all about us —they are actually more about God’s Kingdom work being done here on earth. Yes, God wants to lavish His love and gifts upon us, but He also looks beyond our individual comforts and weaves them into His Kingdom work —for the greater good of all.
As you read John chapter 1 in the Bible, you will see that through Him and in Him and for Him, all things were created. God delights in us, but everything is not ALL about us. We are part of a body, created to be in communion with each other and with God. Those of us who try to live in denial of that truth contribute to the problems in this world… and in our marriages in particular.
In last week’s Marriage Message, we talked about marriage not being all about OUR satisfaction —that God has a higher purpose on many different levels that we as human beings cannot even comprehend. But there’s something that author Julianne Slattery wrote, that we’d like to expand upon a bit in this message. She wrote:
“If a marriage is ultimately about getting our own needs met, then marriage is over when intimacy fails. However, marriage can also be viewed as something beyond our needs. It’s often the ultimate test of our values and character. Like no other relationship, marriage can highlight our fears and selfishness. It’s essentially a ministry. The way we respond in marriage reflects our core beliefs and our very reason for living.
“Being a faithful and loving spouse ultimately relies upon our choice to be faithful to God. Especially when a husband or wife is unlovable, continuing in the marriage is only possible when our life means more than finding pleasure, fulfillment, and happiness.”
She goes on to say,
“If being married isn’t about getting needs for intimacy and companionship met, then what’s the purpose? Although God’s design is for a husband and a wife to become one, the reality of marriage falls short. Marriage is a mystery that’s meant to awaken and illuminate our hunger for Christ.”
What it comes down to is: your spouse is not to be your God. We have an article on our web site in the “For Married Women” section which is titled “Your Husband is Not Your God.” The same principle is true in reverse concerning wives. God did not create your spouse to be a substitute for Himself, but instead to be His colleague in demonstrating love to us.
Sadly we put too many expectations upon our spouse to do the job alone. And frankly, because our spouse is human, he/she will often fail in doing their part. And so do we in different ways as well (we just look at our “failures” with different eyes —excusing our failings). When this happens, it’s all the more important to look to Christ to help us, as we hunger for love and righteousness.
Another way God mysteriously uses marriage “to awaken and illuminate our hunger for Christ” is the way in which our spouse seems to be able to bring our flaws out into the open. I never realized how selfish, petty, short-tempered, how lazy at times I could be, along with being prideful and vengeful until I married Steve and he pushed just the right emotional buttons within me and out popped those characteristics.
Yes, I blamed him for doing the pushing, but in reality, they were character flaws that were buried deep until the “perfect storm” of marriage brought them out into the open. I now realize God knew that and allowed Steve to reveal them.
I also know that whenever they (or any other flaws or sins) come out, I have two choices.
- I can blame my husband for doing whatever he did to get me to that point (which is often just him being himself and me reacting in an exaggerated and/or sinful way).
- I can realize that God and I have more work to do together to root out that which I shouldn’t be holding onto and so that I can “participate” in God’s “divine nature.” And the same goes for you.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ“ (2 Peter 1:5-11).
With this in mind, we challenge you (as we challenge ourselves) to look at that which you can “add to” and that which you are personally responsible for, which is causing problems in your marriage. You can’t control what your husband or wife does, but you CAN control YOUR actions. Whatever problems you are contributing to in your relationship, make it your mission to work on those issues in partnership with God.
Don’t allow pride, feelings of inadequacy, or whatever you may have going on in your mind that is deceiving you into thinking that you cannot or should not work on your own “stuff”. Resources and tools are available to help you as the Wonderful Counselor, your Holy Spirit, will reveal (and we have many of these tools on our web site). As followers in Christ, keep persevering.
“Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
When you are facing trials in your relationship and in life, ask the Lord what you can learn through it all. Participate with Him in redeeming that which is problematic —don’t add to the problem, learn and apply all you can to persevere and grow despite the painful way it is presented.
In light of this, Steve and I would like to pass a prayer that was sent to us, on to you:
We pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
We pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
We pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
We pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
We pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
We pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
We pray you enough hellos to get you through the good-byes you experience.
We are asking God to: “Fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God“ (Colossians 1:9b-10).
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!“ (Romans 15:5-6)
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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