Love and Serve in Marriage

 

Marriage Happy Sign Married Love

“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him….” John 13:4-5 

All too often in marriage, we start off fine, but something happens. We get disappointed or hurt, then we stop. We stop being loving. We stop placing the other first. We stop putting in the effort. We stop the excitement and anticipation. We stop helping. We allow our disappointments to consume us and move away from what God has for us to what we can do to make it worse. What is left, is costing on what we may have had, without refueling or repairing, until it all starts to come apart and fail. What we need is a reboot!

The end of Ephesians 5 gives us a picture of walking in healthy relationships that seems like foolish, archaic and abusive to a worldly perspective.  Yet, provides a great reboot to any marriage. We have to have a chain of authority to keep structure and order, or you will have chaos and dysfunction. We have to see the importance of love and respect. How to love and how to esteem each other. This also helps us look to God and accept His authority over all and our lives.  Consider that, everyone is in submission, even the president of the United States is supposed to be held to account by the people and Congress and the Supreme Court. Within God’s plan is a structure and call to help us make it work, and work well. Below is an application of this structure that will improve your marriage, no matter how good or bad you may be doing.

Here is a great way to vastly improve any home or marriage situation. First, read Ephesians chapter four and five. Then be in prayer, Lord, how can I push my pride and hurt away and place you more in my life? Lord, how can I be more like you in my marriage and family?

Now consider these time-honored relationship treasures:

  • As Christ served us, see how you can be the biggest servant in your home? Remember, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe did, how about you (John 13:1-17)?
  • As Christ loved us, see how you can be the biggest “lover” in your home? (Mark 10:45; John 15:12; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 5:25)?

In marriage, it is not about what can I get out of it, it is about what can I put into it! This is the true Christian model, by Christ’s example. It is not about focusing on my hurts or past experiences, or what they have done or do not do; rather, it is about surrendering my pride and forgive and move forward. Then we can step up and be the person who loves and serves, even when we do not feel like it or think they deserve it. As, none of us deserve Christ’s grace; Yet, we received it anyway. That is why it is grace undeserved. Have grace for your spouse! The more we love and serve the better chance they will catch it too.

Questions to help you realign yourself up to God’s call in marriage:

  1. What does unconditional love mean to you? Can you give an example? Have you ever felt or experienced it? Have you ever given it?
  2. How is my attitude about serving? Does it line up to Christ?
  3. Is Christ leading my family, or am I seeking to lead Him?
  4. God created something special in your family, what can you do to rekindle into a great relationship that glorifies our Lord?

Remember, real love is Sacrificial!

© 2017, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. www.thisismarriage.org

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How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PIII

cherish

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27

For us to be successful in life, in our relationship to God and with our spouses, we must respond to Christ with gratitude and love; then, we must be respectful and submit to one another. The key to a successful and vibrant marriage is the wife and husband respecting and loving each other, because our relationship is bound to our Lord.  We are not just the participants of the church, we are the church and we model it to the world, and we must show that our Gospel and love is real and sincere.  And the Christian marriage is a prime platform for the Gospels illustration! Love and respect are the two essential ways we can improve our relationship; this is the “marriage secret” to a happy and content marriage.  The husband cherishes his wife, regardless of his feelings, so she feels secure and valued, while the wife respects her husband, even when he does not deserve it.

In this way, both have an authentic mutual affection and admiration for one another. Which builds upon each other for the betterment and prevents and solves most ills.

Let’s look at the husband’s call, as it does apply to both. He is asked to do something greater, to love their wives, to be passionate and committed about their care and personhood, not just rely on feelings. To take the initiative to lead and to listen.  In ancient times, marriage contracts would advocate the husband to make his wife submit with absolute obedience.  Paul’s assertion to his churches and readers “to love,” and because of love to “submit,” was very radical.  To Paul, love was a duty.  To truly love someone was considered weak by the macho mindsets of the times as well as with many people today. Yet, love is not weak; it is building the strength of a relationship and the bond of a family by creating a mutual partnership (Amos 3:3; Mark 12:38; 1 Cor. 7:3-4; 13; 11:8-9)!

Love or cherisheth is the verb for love (Greek: agapete) designates a continuous routine of a devoted care action all of the time, not just when we feel like it.

Love is “symbiotic” as in mutually loving toward each other to build and improve each one’s relationship.  Here, a man loves a woman; she then submits because of his love.  This submission is a love in itself that becomes as “one flesh” (Eph. 2:4-7; 5:21-32; 1 John 4:7-21).

However, submission is misunderstood when it is viewed as abuse or subjection. In context, it is what God has for us, His fullness, His love that must be received and played forward to one another.  As a family and as a church.  God’s perfect plan, even in a corrupt culture, was always oneness and intimacy that were based on commitment and obedience.  Christ restores our true intimacy (Gen. 2:19-25; 1 Tim. 2:13-14).

We are to walk as people who are wise in the ways of the Lord and who are also on guard to the ways of the world.  We are to be careful how we live, so we treat our lives and others with love, dignity, and respect, especially our loved ones.

We must not to be careless with what is precious, people who are God’s precious children.  We are to make the most of our lives, and the opportunities He gives us.  To waste it away, and to treat others with disrespect or abuse is what a fool does; so, let us not be fools!   When we understand what the Lord wants us to do—and, by the way, this is not hard—we will do better in life.  It is not hard because what God is concerned with is our character.  We form our character from understanding, and putting into practice this fullness. Then, we will have healthy families in a healthy church.

 

How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PII

Eph 4 26

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

This is a reminder of our position in Christ, a result of our redemption that should be exhibited in our new life in Christ.  In Christ, our old nature has died and now we are clothed in His new nature and life.  We also become more Christ-like in character and attitude as we grow and mature in Him. Therefore, we can understand God’s truths and apply them to our lives without excuse. In so doing, our marriages will become more triumphant not only to one another and our families, then also to the glory of our Lord (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 1:3; Phil. 3:10-20; 2:1-101 John 3:2).

Let’s look at this keyword, Anger.  It centers around all that most people do that can come out bad, a word steeped in emotion and unhinged response. Whereas a Christian, we have a higher calling with it. The emotion in of itself is not bad, as it can be used for good motivations too. Even Jesus got rightly angry in Matthew 24. Our call, in life and here marriage, is do not hold on to anger, or it will fester and become unjust. Then all is will do is bring us unpleasantness and bitterness.  When this happens, we must seek to break the bonds that destroy others and us. Our beliefs must affect our behaviors; our language must affect and reflect our faith.  If not, our faith and thinking are skewed or even absent (Psalm 4:4; Isa. 63:10; Hos. 7:6; Eph. 4:31; James 1:19-20; 3:9-10).

What counters anger is the Fruit of the Spirit, in this case in this passage, being kind and compassionate or having tender mercies.  This is a Fruit produces a readiness to respond with righteousness and thoughtful consideration beyond how people treat us or how they may or may not deserve it (Matt. 11:29-30; Rom. 2:1-4; 12:9-21; 2 Cor. 6:6; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 Tim. 3:4; 1 John 3:16-23).

So, when we are caring, we hold back the emotion and the escalation of it. Our empathy of another person outside of basic selfish nature will be the brakes that slow down anger.

This will come about when we see our spouse in the light of who they are in Christ, not who they are in our irritation.

It is to recognize, emotionally identify with, and interact with those who are hurting, and helping them by gathering with others with the abilities and resources to help them (Job 29:13; Isa. 40:11; Matt. 9:36; 14:14; Mark 1:41; Luke 6:36; 10:25-37; 19:4; Rom. 12:1-2; James 5:11; 1 Peter 3:8). But how can I do this? This passage gives us the clue, know that God forgave you.  We are to extend the forgiveness to others, to our spouse, because Christ had forgiven us. (John 6:37, 44, 65;13:1; 15:16; Rom. 5:1-8; Eph. 1:4-5; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:21-22; 2:10; 3:1-14; 1 John 4:9-11)!

How to I apply this passage?

Realize that God loves you and accepts you more powerfully, passionately, purposefully, and deeply than you could ever fathom!

You are secure.  God “guarantees” you with a clear, powerful, loving, impacting, and lasting relationship with Him.  When you are in Christ, God is pleased with you!  Now see your spouse in this light of how God sees them. You have no need to fear; you are both people of deep value and worth before our Lord!  You are both forgiven because of Christ and His righteousness that covers you, not because of your deeds or performance.  You are unique and complete in Him; and because of this, you are each a special person whom God loves and will use to further impact His kingdom.   He does this for all of who are His.

How do we do this in a life of hardship, setbacks, busyness, and uncertainty?

Simply by allowing the Word–Christ’s presence–to dwell in us, and learn His instruction, so the peace of Christ will rule in our hearts and minds and translate into our actions.

It is all about our spiritual growth impacting us so it impacts those around us positively and in love.  Get in His Word more and commune with Him by prayer. And a good fellowship is also crucial. The key is to know that Christ is sufficient, so we can trust in Him–trust in Him alone (Read all of Eph. 4)!

Take an inventory of your life, thinking, behaviors, then go through All of Ephesians 4, look at the key words, and ask:

  • What do I need to put off?
  • What do I need to put on?
  • How do I do that?
  • How do I fail in this area?
  • How can I do this better?

 

How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PI

marriage God_s call eph 4 29

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25

If someone wrote a one-sentence summary of your marriage, what would it say? How does it compare to God’s call in Ephesians 4?

In our marriage, we must carefully and passionately listen to our Lord’s instructions and not our desires, so we live in and for Him and not in the ways of the world lest we think like people who love to sin.  If we are of the world–thinking as people who are “ok” with sin–dark thoughts will be ours.  Dark thoughts become our dark behaviors.  This way of life leads only to chaos, life’s upsets, and regrets with all the consequences and none of the perks.  This is life apart from God.  This is life away from God.  People who think and act in darkness have hardened their hearts; they are convicted.  They do not seek God as their eyes are turned only on “pleasures” and desires; they become filled with things like greed and immorality, and they lose real compassion and kindness.

This is not how and why our Lord came to set us free!  Christ, Our Savior, did not die and rise so that we would just sin more!

We have been given a gift that transforms our lives; let us act like it with His Truth and not the world’s wicked ways or our own self-centered motivations.  We can, by His empowerment, remove our old lives of sin and replace our mindset and actions with His principles that give us a better, more fulfilling life.  This is akin to removing filthy rotten rags and putting on the finest clothes.

Wearing our finest clothes, here means wearing the love and gratitude we have for Christ, creates better attitudes and character.  Crates a better marriage and a more content purposeful life. This demonstrates to others who we are in Christ–holy people created and called by a Holy God.  This holy life strives to be and is free from dysfunction, deceit, and depression.  In this, we can treat each other as well as others with respect and practice our faith with fruitfulness and character.  We can control our thoughts, words, and behaviors so we do not let our anger get out of control or fester.

We can keep ourselves from lying, stealing, fighting, irritation, being mean or bitter, all that we would be useful and productive not just for our marriage but also for the Kingdom, and not bow to the devil’s ways.

The Church must share these precepts and us build our relationships and family’s us, to help one another, work as a community in love, so we do not hurt the Holy Spirit.  We can forgive and move on and be the people we are called to be, as we are sealed by Christ’s redemption (Eph. 4:17-32)!

Our redemption also gives us an understanding, to think, and to have a desire for real Truth. Then a desire to have a healthier communication and mutual respect and love. Because this is Christ’s Truth in the action of our application. We are to think about Christ and consider what we have in Him to experience our new lives.  Then we will have transformed marriages, that are moving away from bitterness and dysfunction. Yes, we can sin and live as we please, we can ignore our spouse and be mean and live as we were never married, but what will that get us?  Paul emphatically fights this heinous notion.

We have no right to sin deliberately thinking, I am already forgiven so it is OK to sin (Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2)!

What can you learn from Ephesians 4 for your marriage?

In prayer, for the next forty days, read a few verses from Ephesians 4 each day, so you have read the chapter at least ten times. What is God telling you? Seek what you can do to put into practice the Christ-centered life?

 

Be Successful in your Marriage

The solution to a great marriage is the willingness to live life as one who has encountered Christ and play it forward as an encourager to our family!

successful marriage

If you want to be successful in your marriage, you need to “get it”–know and work on real love, cherishing and respecting.  By this, we create the happy home that glorifies and serves God.  Our desires and pleasures are not God’s priority for our lives; God is our priority, and we are to follow His lead into your marriages!

Yes, God wants us to be joyful, happy, and content; however, being happy means focusing on Him and not on our circumstances.

To have a successful marriage, you must be aware of what you are getting into and prepare for it. The most important guarantee for it to work is to follow His principles from His Word, not what you think, want, or have experienced.  Remember, God designed marriage and us. He knows best (Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:21-27; James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:5)!

How will this book help me if I am not a Christian?  The tips and principles in my book are called ‘precepts’–timeless Truth.  These precepts are in the Bible; the Bible is  God’s Truth.  The precepts are found in real research—scientific truth.  The precepts are shown to be effective far beyond counseling—societal and cultural truth.

If one of you does not embrace any of which we have talked about so far, you will have an extreme strain on your relationship, and you face the odds of a 50% divorce rate. Of the marriages that are left, from my experiences in counseling and research, most are miserable!  Please, please consider how important it is to get your act together; you have already said, “I do!”

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25

The real authenticity of our Lord, will enable us to build a real authenticity of love and respect, that will in turn build a “Wondrous Marriage!”

 

 

God desires us to be transformed agents of His Work and Word!

 

Forgiveness is Complete

forgiveness

Matthew 18:27 tells us, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 

 

Forgiveness is actually canceling a debt. It is as if someone owes you one thousand dollars, and he or she cannot pay you back; you forgive the debt, never expecting to receive the money back.

The amount owed to you is no longer owed or expected.  You give up your right to seek the repayment of that debt. Forgiveness is bankruptcy; once filed, the creditor may not retrieve the debt, and it is wiped out. We need to see the cancellation of the debt as a write-off, and not some form of embezzlement. When we forgive, we forget; that is, we are no longer to even have the desire for restitution, pay back, or punishment.

There is a man, at a church where I was once on staff, who I admire greatly for exhibiting forgiveness in an instance that I do not think I could ever have done it; yet, with Christ, I should be able to, because all things are possible with Christ. His wife was murdered, indiscriminately, by a drive-by shooter in the Pasadena area a few years ago; she died in his arms. He realized that for him to go on with his life and faith, he needed to forgive that person. And, he did. Now, he did not tell the police to let the shooter go; forgiveness is not necessarily a release of the obligation, especially when a crime is committed. Rather, we, as Christians, are released from our personal desire for retribution. This form of forgiveness even prevents us from those “polite” sly remarks and glances; our revenge is repudiated…divorced from our desire to get even.

Forgiveness is so rare in our society. For it to become a powerful witnessing tool, it must be complete.

Forgiveness does not make light of the wrong, nor should it give a license to others to take advantage of us, but, they may. Yet, it is well worth it! Out of the completeness of forgiveness will come the forgetting. Then, out of the forgetting, will come the healing. The healing we get from forgiveness will close the wounds we receive; it will allow us to go on with life. It will prevent our sufferings and setbacks from becoming our identity and obsession. For, without forgiveness, we give in to the bitterness that will consume and take us over, that it may give us a purpose for existing, but not for living. If we just try to forget, then agonize over it, we will get nowhere; but, through the process of surrender (Galatians 2:20-21) will come the forgetting. Forgetting is a process, and we can not expect it to come right away.

We must be patient, let the process unfold, and embrace the forgiveness that Christ has given us. That man, who forgave his wife’s killer, took many agonizing months to do so. But, in the end, he and his remaining family were able to get on with their lives, and honor his wife’s memory by living life. Had he remained in bitterness, not only would his kids have become dysfunctional, but a total breakdown of that family would have occurred, and his wife’s memory would have been framed in bitterness, and not life! Forgiveness has to be complete; if not, it will not work, and you will not make it!

 

Be Careful with Blame

the-blame-game

“The man said, the woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the LORD God said to the woman, what is this you have done? The woman said, the serpent deceived me, and I ate…” Gen 3:12-13

As soon as humanity sinned, we quickly refused to take responsibility and then commenced to blame others. This is one of the effects of our sin nature, the rejection of accountability for our actions. This is the attitude, which is so popular today from young people to Presidents. This is also the favorite ammunition for fights in marriage and the way in which most people handle difficult situations and guilt, which is to deflect and blame others.

“My spouse always blames me for the problems in our marriage!” “My spouse just keeps pushing my buttons.” My spouse will not own up to what they did and blames me.”

We do this “deflection” for three primary reasons:

First, we do not want to live with guilt.

Second, we do not want to suffer the consequences of our actions.

Third, we do not want to conflict.

Blaming others is classically called “blame shifting,” which acts like a shield to deflect. It is also like an escape mechanism, similar to an ejection seat, which avoids the consequences by bailing out. However, this is not as effective as most people think, unless you are actually in a fighter jet going down. Freeing the burden of guilt by escaping only puts it off until later. While in the meantime, it grows and spreads out of control, and continues to gnaw away at our conscience and works to destabilize your marriage. So, we accumulate this as ammo in our disagreements that escalates in confrontation and turns into battle, husband against wife.

So, this defense mechanism is actually self-destructive and only makes matters worse. 

While seeking to avoid hurt or fighting, we bring it more. Look at it like an old fashioned scale. As one side of the scale becomes increasingly loaded with the weight of guilt from inaction or misaction. The guilt ridden person just shifts the responsibility to the other side of the scale. And we all do this by blaming, and in marriage, we use this to argue and fight.

There is just one problem with this (okay a lot more problems), the act of blaming instead of taking the responsibility for one’s own actions flies in the face of the Gospel.

It is unjust and serves only to increase the problems we incur in our relationships. And the irony is, this mostly occurs in families that dislike conflict. Then the blaming becomes a habit and then a pattern of dysfunctional behavior that is an endless loop of a hopeless cycle.

In spite of Adam and Eve’s blame shifting, God held them accountable and they suffered the consequences of their disobedience. “To Adam he said, because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, you must not eat of it, Cursed is the ground because of you.” Gen 3:17

God not only held Adam responsible for his action, He also held him responsible for listening to the voice of his wife (the influence of others!) instead of listening to the voice of God. His excuse only served to increase his personal responsibility and guilt. We must learn that God does not allow us to avoid the consequences of our actions by blaming others or not taking responsibility in our marriage. In fact, we are held responsible for blaming. We may think we can get away with it, but make no mistake, if we fail to hold each other accountable for our actions, you can be sure that God will hold us responsible.

        “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:12-13

       The precepts of God, will enable you to have a magnificent marriage. So, what can I do to stop the blame cycle?

Read these passages: http://www.openbible.info/topics/blaming_others

Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!

  1. Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!
  2. Try to be mindful of how and why you blame. Then realize when you do, all you are doing is escalating, when you could be resolving conflict.
  3. Do not keep score! In marriage you are not two lawyers battling it out in a courtroom, so you need to keep track of what is said, build your case and use what is said against the other. In marriage, we let it go.
  4. We stop blaming when we replace the bad habit with a good one. Learn to be a better communicator by listening. We best do this by closing our mouth and opening our ears.
  5. Seek to be apologetic to rebuild respect, practice real heartfelt love.
  6. Take the responsibility and make it better, even if your spouse will not.
  7. In a fight? Remember to walk it off. Let it go, pray and make a point to redress when emotions are not escalated.

If you are having trouble with this, see a qualified pastor or counselor to guide you through it.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” Ephesians 4:26

Forgiveness in Marriage PIV

spouseforgiveIsaiah tells us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9

Ask yourself this question: How do I handle forgiveness?

How do you respond when your spouse forgives you?  What do you do with opportunities that our Lord has for you?

To get forgiveness to work, we must realize the generosity of Grace, and being in Christ, which we do not deserve. Our Lord does not want us to forgive begrudgingly, because, He did not forgive us with conditions, or with strings attached. A Christian that does not forgive is like a small child who refuses to share a game ball that he/she received as a gift. Thus, the child will not be able to play with that ball as it was designed to be used. That child will not be using it to its full potential, nor will there by any fun with it. When we do not forgive in marriage, we distort the relationship. We are like the child who, unable to play a game because they refuse to share the ball, cries that they is alone and nobody will play with them, or, cries because they are not having any fun. Can you see this connection in your home?

Without forgiveness, we forfeit our relationship with who is to be most important to us, and, we are unable to ‘play’ our marriage correctly and lovingly. We just end up cheating ourselves out of our potential, and the best plan that Christ has for us.

Yes, Forgiveness is Hard

True forgiveness is one of the hardest things to accomplish in the human experience, even for the mature Christian. This is why most marriages are struggling. As we get hurt and we then become the hurters, we become a self-imprisoned victim of the escalation of that hurt that could have been stopped by just, I forgive you, and then letting it go!

Forgiveness is our mandate, and call, in life, in church, and in marriage. Yes, this is hard because it demands a surrender of our ‘perceived’ right to get even. Forgiveness even causes upset for the person who was wronged, the victim. Because we feel that the suffering, from our perspective and reasoning, should belong to the other person in the wrong. So, it is natural to consider this unfair. And, yes, it is unfair; as it was unfair for our Lord to go through what He did to forgive us!

But, once the forgiveness is given and received, the hurt can stop and relationship can continue and prosper.

Forgiveness is hard, because we can easily avoid it; we can walk the other way, and execute revenge. Take our hurts and turn them into weapons of hurt. And, it would be considered justified in the eyes of our friends, our relatives, and, especially of society. We could even receive some kind of honor for coming up with a good scheme of revenge.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”

This passage is telling us that our way of thinking is wrong. If God is the Creator of all things, including Truth, and He is all knowing, and He is all-powerful, then, His ways are better than ours. We may not be able to recognize this, because our perspective is limited, as is our knowledge and insight as well as our foresight that this is a better plan.

When we look to Christ, consider that He is governed by righteousness; whereas, desires and emotions drive us. God has a moral and virtuous purpose; our purpose is self-seeking. He wants the escalation of hurt to stop that is why there is forgiveness.

God’s primary purpose in marriage is to create an environment to grow spiritually, emotionally, relationally to one another and to Him. So, to bring us out of our self-destructive and self-seeking nature, and into the reclamation of redemption in Him; this is the work of Christ. This is the work of His forgiveness to us that He wants us to play forward with our spouse and others.

So next time you have trouble forgiving, remember that God’s thoughts are beyond our comprehension and imagination; therefore, we should rely on Him, and not on ourselves.

(For ongoing hurt, any abuse or dysfunction, please see a qualified counselor. If you feel you are in danger, get out, contact the police.)

What is Faithfulness in Marriage? PII

A love storlove storyy from the Bible 

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.” Ruth 4:13

Take a look into the Bible Book of Ruth. It is set in the time of the Judges. The main character is the great grandma to King David. And depicts for us a shadow to Who and what Christ will do, our God as the Redeemer. It also shows us what the ingredients to a great marriage are.

This story follows the adventures of three principle characters, Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Ruth has just lost her husband and is in a state of loss and confusion. She felt helpless and hopeless, but turned from her false gods to pursue the One True God. Even though she was not a Jew, she remained faithful to God. Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law, a Jewess, who was led by family remembrances to go back to her homeland, thereby exercising faith, too. Naomi trusted God even though she sinned against God by leaving her homeland in the first place and marrying a Gentile. God looked beyond her sin and worked it out for good as He does with us. God protected her and Ruth, who is an alien, through many harsh trials and tribulations.

God blessed Ruth’s faithfulness and brought to her a new and better husband, Boaz. God, even allowed her to be in the genealogy of Jesus.

Naomi, at first, was bitter and did not want to take Ruth back with her, but learned about faith and received blessings for her faithfulness, too. Boaz was a relative of Naomi, and culturally, held the position to redeem her, which meant to take care of her, which he did. In the process, both he and Ruth remained faithful to God, and took their time to get to know one another before falling in love.

The Book of Ruth is a must read! It shows us the importance of faith and commitment. And what an enduring marriage filled with love and respect is all about.

Boaz was a man of integrity who had the opportunity to take advantage of a young, pretty widow. Instead, he chose righteousness as he protected Ruth, and looked after her needs. He made an extremely difficult situation easier for her by not seeking his comfort or lust, and, eventually enjoyed a beautiful marriage. If he had chosen the way of the world, he could never have had a good, enduring relationship with Ruth. Ruth, who remained faithful, would also have missed out on the relationship (Ruth 2:20; 3:10-11).

Boaz was the Kinsman-Redeemer for Ruth’s family. This meant he was a close relative whose call and obligation was to come to the aid of a family member in distress. According to Levitical Law, he could redeem the property, family members sold into slavery, assets such as farm animals, and he could care for a widow, or orphans, and such (Leviticus 25:25-34; 27:9-33). However, in practice, this rarely occurred, because greed usually took over and people took advantage of the weak and helpless. This is one of the main reasons God judged the Israelites and sent them into captivity, as found in the book of Jeremiah.

In the New Testament, Christ is our ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer, as He represents humanity and our bloodline (Mathew. 1:1-17; Galatians 4:4; Heb. 2:16-17).

Jesus represents our need (John 10: 15-18; 1 John 3:16), and He has the resources (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Christ is our Redeemer, and He does not take advantage of us or let us rot, as we deserve. Thus, in our relationships we can and must be faithful, we should also look to Boaz’s example, who was a righteous man. And, we can look at Ruth’s example, who was a woman of faithfulness and patience.

What does a real husband of faith look like? Ruth and Naomi were attracted to the kindness and integrity of Boaz as he treated them both well. Boaz was attracted to Ruth’s humility and nobility.

Thus, we are to be kind, listen, learn, not take advantage, care, share, and take care of one another! We need to see the importance of nobility and authenticity, as it will pay off much better and greater than the ways of the fast world would. We are to be attracted to goodness and integrity, not looks, power, wealth, or position.

What does a real wife of faith look like? Respectful, patience and looking to God and not to hurts or ones plans. So, if you are not married yet, Ruth shows us how to find a great mate. We look to God, run to Him, and if anyone is running beside us, then that may be the best person God has for us.

Faithfulness means to live out our lives, centered upon Christ’s glory, so our lives ooze Christ-like character and personal growth; striving for greater heights, good works, and personal growth is what is important.

This is the result of our gratitude for being in a special spiritual union with Christ as Savior and Lord. And what makes a marriage succeed and enjoyable. So, our marriage integrity is fueled by what Christ has done for us, as husband and wife become intertwined with distinction for one another. It is not because we earn anything with Christ, but because we are filled with gratitude which translates into compassion and friendship with others, especially with our spouse (Eph 1:3).

Forgiveness in Marriage PIII

Forgiveness in Marriage

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” Matthew 18:26-27

This passage in Matthew, chapter eighteen, is a story of a forgiving king and a wicked servant. The king forgave this servant’s enormous debt, which is a parallel to our enormous debt of sin that we held until Christ forgave us. And this can also apply to the storehouse of hurts, wrongs, misses and the such, we may hold and horde and then harbor ourselves to, that we feel our spouse has done to us. This servant represents the believer, who, after experiencing the forgiveness of God, did harbor bitterness to another, and then refused to forgive his fellow Christian (or a non-Christian) for a much, much smaller debt.  The king became furious, and handed the servant over to be tortured.

What does this have to do with marriage? Everything! A stern warning not to harbor wrongs or they will consume us and hurt yourself, our spouse, our family and leave us in a dysfunctional and bitter life.

The Bible is telling us that if we refuse to forgive one another, and continue to harbor bitterness, we can be tortured, too. What is a greater destroyer or a better torture to have than being bitter and wallow in it so we are inept to be and do anything of worth?

My personal experience is when I have refused to forgive people in the past or my spouse, I have become consumed with feelings of guilt and shame, and this is a torture I can do without. I feel much better, and sleep much better with an attitude of forgiveness; I cannot think well or sleep well with an attitude of bitterness. I can grow in my relationship with Christ, build my family or enjoy my life with unforgiveness left out and about.

Why would a Christian marriage want to go through life with feelings of bitterness, which consume us with misery and unrest, instead of giving it to the Lord, and receiving forgiveness and rest?

How can we go through our marriage life and experience, and rationalize our bad actions and deeds, only to face our Lord later in the judgment? By what point are we to do, by what feeling is we to base, by what hope do we have? Even when we are in the right? When we have the knowledge of God’s mercy, then we have the responsibility of acting with mercy toward our wife, husband and one another (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God calls Christians to operate in the parameters of forgiveness, love, and mercy.  And, when we have not forgiven, we will have a heart filled with suffering and torment.  How can we receive Christ’s forgiveness, and claim Christ as our Savior, when we are unable to forgive one another?  When we have a forgiving attitude, then we will have a heart at rest and in peace!

Let us take our marriage vision from God’s Word and heed from Matthew, chapter 18. We can see what God requires of us, and our appropriate response.  We,  must extend ourselves to one another with love, and that which flows out of love-forgiveness!  Which is a key component to make a marriage last a lifetime and build a legacy for generations.

            Ephesians 4:29-32 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”   

John 13:34-35 tells us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. 

            We are to love and forgive one another-period!  No strings attached! Unless there is abuse or abandonment. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world!  

We should be clear on this.  A healthy marriage is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sin nature, and embraces each other with love and respect, and what flows out of that is forgiveness. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt.

We are called to model kindness, love, empathy, compassion-and, out of these, will flow a forgiveness for a content home. Yes, this is hard, but the result of not forgiving, even when we are in the right, is a torture no child of God should endure. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. Because, an unforgiving attitude, and its ugly rotten fruits, will chock us off from His wonders!