Do you enjoy seeing "before and after" make-over photos in a magazine showing what people look like before and then after their looks are altered in some way? Usually the change is good and fun to look at the "afterward." But there are times when the change isn't an improvement at all.
What about the "before and after" glimpses into marriage --into YOUR marriage? Will those who observe you and your spouse together see a growing improvement as the years go on? You can't change how your spouse acts, but what about the way in which you interact in your marriage? Do they see the attitude & the heart of Christ being lived out in YOUR words and actions?
Do you remember the time of your marriage proposal when the question was asked, "Will you marry me?" Hopefully, it was a romantically memorable time. But did the attitude you had for each other BEFORE the wedding continue past the proposal and past the wedding into your marriage? A while ago, a pastor told us of a conversation he had with a man he sat next to on an airplane. He said the man appeared to be really excited about something, so he asked him the reason for his obvious happiness. He said he'd just asked a woman to marry him and she had said "yes." What was especially exciting and also interesting was the way in which he proposed. He took her out to a romantic dinner and then took her to their church. He then asked her to go into the restroom and take off her nylon stockings. She questioned him about his request, thinking it was a bit strange. But he asked her just to trust him and he would explain his request later. She did what he asked and afterward was led into the church sanctuary. He then took her to an area that had a spotlight shining over it. There he provided a chair for her to sit on, brought out a basin of water (that he had prepared ahead of time), and proceeded to wash her feet. As he was washing her feet he told her of his deep love for her and asked her to consider being his wife. He said, "I want to serve you and wash your feet for the rest of our lives together." It didn't take her long to express her love for him and to accept his proposal for marriage. Isn't that a romantic story? What a beautiful beginning for a life together and what a wonderful attitude of servanthood to have. The Bible talks about mutual submission being important, so this is an inspiring start for their married lives together.
But what would be even more inspirational is if this man continues to have this servant's heart and attitude for his wife beyond the wedding – after life begins to become so "daily." THAT is true servanthood, when you're still able to honor your spouse after getting to know them with all their faults and quirks exposed, day after day. THAT is the servanthood Jesus modeled for us.
Upon washing the feet of His disciples Jesus said something (recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 13) that should always inspire us in how we treat each other. He said, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if
you do them." The meaning of the word, "blessed," in the context of this scripture in the original Greek language is "Markarious" which means, "possessing the favor of God." What this means is that as we follow the example Jesus showed us, by serving one another, we will "possess the favor of God." What an honorable goal to follow - especially in our marriages! However, we can almost hear the protests going out, as some who are reading this, have been treated by your spouse in ways that are rude, crude, and "unlovable." Some of you are saying, "But you don't know my spouse and how they have acted toward me. How could I treat them in such a loving way when I've been treated so horribly?" It wouldn't be something we'd think of asking anyone to do in that type of situation. But it isn't us who are asking you to do this - it is Jesus who is asking us to follow His example. And what example did He show us to do, for those who are less than kind to us? A.W. Tozer wrote the following: "Jesus Christ left an example for our daily conduct and from it there can be no appeal. He felt no bitter
resentment and he held no grudge against anyone! Even those who crucified Him were forgiven while they were in the act. Not a word did He utter against them, not even against the ones who stirred them up to destroy Him. How evil they all were. He knew better than any other man, but He maintained a charitable attitude toward them. We're told in Luke 23:24,' Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they no not what they do.'" We hope that as you think about your spouse you will look to serve him or her with the attitude that Christ would have you - as He did with others. Again, you aren't responsible for the actions of your spouse, but you are responsible, and accountable, for your own actions. It's never too late to start doing what is right - to do that which would please the heart of God. So, what does the "before and after" glimpse look like in your marriage? Do you have the heart to try to show love to your spouse as you did before you were married? As others observe your marriage do THEY see the heart of Christ being exhibited in how you treat your spouse? "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-25)
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does." (Ephesians 6:7)
Please know that our prayers go with you every week as we work together to make our marriages living examples of "Christ's love for the church." Cindy and Steve Wright
Dancing Birds By Rebecca La Count
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns."-1 Chronicles 16:31
Straight ahead of me, against a clear blue sky, a small gray cloud was hanging above a busy intersection. I wondered, What was that lonely cloud doing there on such a perfect afternoon? As if hearing my thoughts, the cloud suddenly shimmered like silver and disappeared. Then, just as suddenly, it reappeared, darker this time and in a new shape—a smile. Then I realized the "cloud" was a flock of birds. They stretched across the road like a wavy banner announcing the song that I was hearing on my radio. As the music of "This Is My Father's World" filled my car, the flock of dancing birds seemed to soar with each majestic phrase—dipping with each downbeat and swelling with each crescendo. I wondered if the other drivers realized that they were in the audience of the Almighty. It seemed to me that all creation was rejoicing in His goodness. With my eyes open, I prayed, "Thank You, heavenly Father, for allowing me to watch You conduct this remarkable ballet of birds. Thank You for reminding me that all creation, myself included, is part of Your song and that You are conducting every verse. May my praise and worship be as beautiful to You as Your creation is to me. Amen."
This is my Father's world — The birds their carols raise; The morning light, the lily white, Declare their Maker's praise. — Babcock All of nature is a grand symphony, conducted by the Creator.