- There's an expression that says, "It's as plain as the nose on your face." There's some truth to this as it pertains to how we live our lives within our marriages, as Christ-followers.
If both marriage partners truly applied the principles, which are outlined throughout the Word of God --the Bible, there wouldn't be all of the divorcing going on. Homes would be the places of peace rather than fighting grounds, and there wouldn't be children who cry themselves to sleep at night because their mommy and daddy fight so much and are abandoning their marital vows. Most importantly of all --God would be well pleased.
What we've discovered is that the principles for loving each other in marriage are the same principles for living, as presented in the Bible. The problem is, these principles are often not lived out, as they should be, both within the home and outside of it. The Bible tells us, "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it --he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25)
How we pray you will be blessed in your marriage. But blessing comes by living in obedience to God's word consistently --living God's way, rather than man's.
Like Noah, we're to live, as we should, even if everyone else around us lives otherwise. In Noah's day, everyone else lived contrary to God's ways, but everyone else was wrong. even if no one else approves or under- stands, we still need to follow God's pattern for living --without changing His instructions. This isn't easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But lets face it, there's nothing easy about living as a
child of God. It never has been easy and it never will be.
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:23-26)
It's one thing to SAY we believe in God and we believe in His Word -- the Bible. But it's another to be authentic and LIVE what we say we believe. If we aren't living God's truth both within our home and marriages, as well as outside of it, we're no better than "white washed stones" --we look good on the outside for others to see, but there's rottenness within.
To be a follower of Christ means we aren't to be distracted form LIVING Christ, no matter where we are no matter what. As Elisabeth Elliot says, "God has ordained that we participate." We're to participate in living out that which God expects, and not manipulate it to OUR way of thinking.
When we look at what we're told in Luke 9:23, the question can be asked, "What type of 'denying' is involved in marriage? Essentially, it involves emptying ourselves of anything that stands in the way of living our lives, as God would have us. It's:
-- "Speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15)
--motivated by loving our spouse's ultimate good beyond even our own comfort. This involves speaking truth in a way that is respectful, and GOD honoring. If for no other reason, we're to speak respectfully to our spouse as if we are speaking it "as unto the Lord."
-- Being "slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19).
-- Not letting "any unwholesome talk come from your mouth, but only according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29). We need to remember that not only is our spouse hearing what we say and how we say it, but so is God and others.
Is what you're saying and how you're saying it benefiting those who hear your words?
-- Getting "rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every other form of malice" (Ephesians 4:31) --that's what denying yourself involves.
-- Being "kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32) is also what God expects of us.
-- Being "imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children" and "living a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2) is something else God expects of His children.
-- To "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" --a command for both the wife AND the husband as outlined in the Bible in Ephesians 5:21-23, is important in a Christian marriage.
As you live out these principles in your marriage, not only will you, your spouse and your household be blessed, but others will be given the opportunity to better see the heart of Christ reflected in your lives together.
To view, and possibly discuss other love-reflecting, God principles, as laid out in the Bible, we put together a long list of scriptures, which we link to, in this Marriage Message, posted on our web site
at www.marriagemissions.com. (If you don't have access to the Internet, perhaps you can find someone else who does, who will copy them and send them to you.)
If you think you're too busy to read God's Word together, author/speaker Zig Ziglar gives the following tip: "Even though my travels take me out of town a great deal, I call my wife each evening at an appointed time and we discuss what the day's Scriptures have meant to each of us."
Great idea, huh? If that won't work for you, then ask God to help you think outside outside the box and FIND a way. It's amazing how resourceful we can be, if we really determine to do something.
This can be a challenge for us all! (Steve and I are doing this too.) And if you don't have a spouse that will do this with you, ask God to partner all the more in speaking to YOU through His Word to help
you to be the spouse He wants you to be -- one He can minister to and through.
May God bless you as you in your efforts to reflect the heart of Christ in your marriage.
Cindy and Steve Wright