I enjoy marriage books, in fact I can’t seem to get enough of them. It’s a beautiful thing to be encouraged by other believers who have walked this path, and to glean encouragement from them that I can apply to my own life. But here’s the thing–there’s one book on my night stand that I return to over and over again–The Bible. After 25 years of marriage I’ve come to see that God’s word is not only the perfect handbook for life, it’s the perfect handbook for marriage.
God is love, and the way He extends love is perfect in every way. We could’t possibly have a better teacher than Him.
I’d like to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned, but let me point out that this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. There are far too many to record in one blog post, or one book for that matter. Nevertheless, they are six important lessons we’ve been learning to live.
1. To be kind on the good days and bad. It’s easy to be kind when we’re both in a great mood. After all, love comes easy in a give and take situation. “I scratch your back, you scratch mine and we’ll get along fine.”
Over the years however, we’ve come to see that real love calls us to a place of sacrifice where the reward doesn’t come from another, but through obedience to our Father in heaven.
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? – Matthew 5:45-46
2. To forgive quickly. There used to be a time when I held onto my anger, as if being angry was my payment due. Thoughts chimed in reminding me of the many times that I forgave first, or that I forgave most. Then I remembered Who Jesus was, and how He was ready and willing to forgive quickly. Even during the last hours of His life He plead for mercy on behalf of those who crucified Him.
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. – Luke 23:33-34
3. To be patient with one another. Expectations are a heavy weight to place on the shoulders of a spouse. We can’t expect them to fill the shoes of anyone other than themselves–people who are growing in grace. I’m thankful that I have a God who is patient and loving with me, because I know that I’m not half the person I wish I was. Like anyone else I’m growing and learning every step of the way. When we can extend that same kind of patient understanding with each other we reflect the love of Our Father in Heaven.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:2-3
4. To offer each other grace. Where would I be without grace? I can’t even begin to imagine. I don’t deserve my husband’s love and I definitely don’t deserve God’s. The Bible tells me that God loved me before I loved Him. That’s the amazing thing about grace–it’s undeserved, but God gives and keeps giving because of His love.
I hear things like respect has to be earned, and that love goes both ways. The truth is that somedays I’m downright unlovable. Other days the tables are turned. We’ve come to see that true love is laced with grace on both the good days and bad. Without it marriage is little more than a barter system.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: – Ephesians 2:8
5. To submit to my husband. While I understand that all men and women are created equally, I also see that God has a plan for marriage that’s revealed in scripture:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. – Ephesians 5:22-24
I’m reminded of the servanthood of our Lord Jesus who was in every way equal to the Father, but took on the form of a man. In fact He came as a servant among men so that through Him we could be saved.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
Submission isn’t just a gift I bring to my husband, it’s first and foremost a gift I bring to the Lord.
6. How a Wife Should Be Cherished. I can’t even begin to tell you the many times that Michael has gone out of his way to serve me. There’s a responsibility on his shoulders to lead our family. In doing so he’s laying down his life day after day to provide for us, to protect us, and to lead us to Christ.
His servanthood, his compassion, and his grace is a reflection in part of God’s love to the church. When he loves me the way that God commands him to love, he brings glory to God and draws me to the Lord. That testimony of love is a powerful force.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; – Ephesians 5:25
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You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife
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The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth.