LIVING OUR FAITH IN CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
One of the great faith-challenges facing us as Christians is to live and practice our faith. Within Christian marriage this means translating the God-desired, ideal “love” of Ephesians chapter five into a language of feelings, attitudes, and behavior which prove pleasing to God and a blessing to our spouse.
Some of the key areas emphasized by our Divine Marriage Creator and Counselor include:
* Exercise Christian kindness and forgiveness in marriage
“Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
Pray for help to eliminate feelings and unkind words of sinful anger, bitterness, and sarcasm. Don’t hesitate to confess your wrongs and to ask forgiveness of your spouse. Avoid the temptation to take out your work and life stresses and frustrations on loved ones.
Consider the depth of Christ’s forgiving love for you and seek to emulate it.
* In love be willing to “give in” and “give up” for each other
“Submit to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21).
There are many areas of marriage–besides our religious convictions–in which husbands and wives can sacrifice and set aside their own interests and desires to serve and please one another.
Such a spirit reflects the love of Christ and strengthens the bond of marital love.
* Express love and appreciation for your spouse often
“Her husband . . . rises up and calls her blessed . . . He praises her” (Prov. 31:28).
Just as Christ in many words and ways has both spoken and shown His beloved Church how much He loves her, so husbands and wives, by words and actions, should tell one another often: “I love you.”
Dwell on things you admire and appreciate in your spouse, and tell them soon and often. Build one another up in faith and marital love.
* Understand, appreciate, and utilize your differing gifts and roles
“Male and female He created them . . . and joined them together” (Gen. 1 & 2).
While God created men and women alike in many ways (spiritually, basic human feelings and needs), He also in His wisdom gave them distinctive, complementary, and compatible love-roles within the design of marriage. This includes the husband’s humble love-leadership and sacrifice for his beloved, and the wife’s cheerful love-submission toward her husband.
The recognition, appreciation, and carrying out of these God-given marriage roles will be a significant blessing to their marriage.
* Learn to understand and communicate with each other
“Be swift to hear, slow to speak . . . .” (Jms. 1:19)
To say that silence enhances communication seems incongruous. Yet many relationships (including marriage) suffer because people do not truly listen to or try to understand each other.
Areas of disagreement will arise, even in the best of marriages. Learn to lovingly resolve issues without making them personal. Beware of being judgmental, or allowing anger or frustration to gain control.
Pray for increased love, kindness, and patience in your marriage.
* Battle complacency and stagnancy in your marriage
According to what someone has called “the seven years of the marriage cold,” a husband’s response to his wife’s cold gradually deteriorates from, “Honey, sit down and rest. What can I get you?” (first year) to “Can’t you be quiet and quit that wheezing and hacking?” (seventh year). Such can be the temptation and effect of long-term familiarity.
The romantic excitement of young love can easily give way to taking each other for granted–or worse.
How can spouses rekindle the spark?
It is helpful to remember that God brought you together as husband and wife, and that He has a wonderful plan and purpose for every stage of your marriage. His plan will not be complete until your marriage union ends with the death of one spouse. Look to Him for daily help, joy, and renewal in every stage of your marriage.
Translating the marriage love of Ephesians chapter five into action is not easy. Every Christian husband and wife fails and falls short of these lofty marriage ideals.
Yet in Christ we find forgiveness for our marital failings; and with Christ we find both the strength and the motivation to love our spouses as He first loved us.
–Pastor David Schierenbeck
(Special thanks to Pastor Schierenbeck for writing this helpful series in behalf of the Spokesman. We pray all will take his words to heart. –Ed.)