Saturday, May 10, 2014

This is part 7 of the 'Cultivating a Godly Marriage' blog series.

Part I — The Meaning of Marriage
Part II — The Husband Leads with Love 
Part III — The Wife Submits with Delight
Part IV — The Couple Communicates Openly, Honestly & Frequently
Part V — The Goal of Marriage: The Exaltation of God & the Christlikeness of Your Spouse
Part VI — The Mystery, Meaning & Magnificence of Forgiveness

Part 7: Your personal pursuit in marriage: for YOU to change; NOT for you to change your spouse & conform them into your liking.

A Christian wants to please the Lord in all things. A genuinely converted Christian hates his sin, quickly confesses it, endeavors to turn from it, and strives by God’s enabling and empowering grace to walk in holiness. A great problem arises in many marriages when couples want change — and they want it fast. And usually the change must begin with the other person. How easy it is for us as sinners to be blinded to our own sin. How easy it is to see ten faults in others that so blinds us to even one glaring fault in ourselves. O the deceptiveness of sin, pride, and selfishness. The personal pursuit in the Christian marriage must be for godly, genuine, consistent change in you — not for you to change your spouse. Dear Christian spouse, if your marriage is going to change, it begins with you.

In this brief article, I will present five simple helps to aid the Christian in his Godly pursuit of biblical change so as to become the spouse that God wants him to be.

1. Your GOAL: strive to honor Christ!
All those who love God’s salvation say continually: ‘Let God be magnified’ (Psalm 70:4). The Lord is worthy to receive honor (Revelation 4:11). God’s people are called upon to worship the Lord with trembling (Psalm 2:11). All the earth is beckoned to worship the Lord and tremble before Him (Psalm 96:9). Like the Apostle Paul, a believer makes it his ambition to be pleasing to the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9). That must be the ongoing goal, pursuit, end, and motive in life. The goal for every Christian is to please the Lord. This radically — drastically! — affects a marriage relationship. The goal of marriage is not simply for a better, happier, easier, more comfortable marriage relationship, or even a better and more enjoyable spouse. No! The supreme goal of marriage is found when the believer commits himself to honor Christ no matter what the cost, what the trial, what the hardship, and what the consequences may be. The personal pursuit in marriage must not be to change the spouse, to see them grow in Christlikeness merely. The personal pursuit is for you to strive, excel, work, be diligent, and discipline yourself to honor Christ irregardless of how things change on the parts of other people involved in the home.

2. Your MISSION: strive to emulate Christ!
God commands all believers to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2). This necessitates that the Christian not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1). Every Christian must follow in Christ’s footsteps since He left the example for us (1 Peter 2:21). The Christian wants to emulate Christ, to follow Him, to be like Him (Philippians 3:10). In the specific context of the marriage relationship, the Christian husband or wife must make it their magnificent mission to strive with all the Spirit-endowed strength to emulate Christ. Even if the spouse refuses to reciprocate, you must emulate Christ. Even if the spouse responds with anger and bitterness, you must emulate Christ. Even if the burning coals on the head of your spouse only enflames their rage, you must emulate Christ. Even if the spouse does not even recognize the love and labor of compassion on your part, you must emulate Christ. The mission is for you to emulate Christ. Note, the mandate from God is not for believers to ensure that their spouse emulates Christ. Your duty is to follow Him! Again, it must be repeated, the mission of the believer is to follow Christ and emulate Christ irregardless of the response that he receives.

3. Your HUMBLING: strive to serve like Christ!
The night before Jesus died, He sat in the upper room with His disciples for the last Passover feast before He would die. At this celebration, Jesus got up and took the role of the lowliest servant and washed the feet of all twelve of His disciples (John 13:1-12). Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Even in the heavenly banquet, the Scriptures reveal that Jesus will gird Himself to serve His people (Luke 12:37). Jesus served His enemies in that He even washed Judas’s feet before Judas left that room to get the Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus served those who took Him for granted in His earthly ministry.  So it must be in the marriage relationship. Every Christian spouse must humbly serve as Christ served. If Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, humbled Himself to wash the dirty, dusty, muddy feet of His disciples, how much more must we humbly serve others. Dear Christian spouse, your humble resolution must be to serve your spouse constantly. Serve them to the max! Love them to the uttermost! Strive to be useful and helpful to them in their growth. Again, this is not pending upon their reception of your endeavors and how they accept, acknowledge, and affirm your acts of service! No! You serve your spouse to the uttermost (without limits) like Christ served you. He loved you! He died for you! He bore your wrath! He became your curse! He drank the cup of divine punishment down to the dregs for you! He came to serve you! So you must strive to serve your spouse with that same kind of humility.

4. Your JOY: strive to unconditionally love like Christ!
Paul worked with the Corinthian believers for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24).He made it his joy in serving them and seeing them joyfully know the Lord more. Believers must serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13). God is love (1 John 4:8) and He first loved wayward sinners since He sent His Son to be the propitiation for sin (1 John 4:10). God did not wait for us to respond to sent Christ to die. No! He initiated this supreme act of divine love by sending Christ to die for sinners (Romans 5:8). The joy of a Christian abounds when he unconditionally loves like His Savior loves. After all, a Christian has received the ultimate display of love. Moreover, the Christian is the most unworthiest person to receive that love! So he must strive to love his spouse with that same kind of unconditional love. Fervently love one another! Christians must fervently love one another from the heart (1 Peter 1:22).

5. Your PERSPECTIVE: strive to remember the coming judgment seat of Christ!
The Christian does well to daily remember that he will stand before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for deeds in the body, according to what he has done (2 Corinthians 5:10). This will not be a judgment seat that determines salvation; that has already been secured at the moment of justification by faith alone. This future judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment determining salvation but a judgment dispensing rewards for faithful service. Every Christian will be at this judgment. Paul says it again that all believers will stand before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14:10). Therefore, O Christian spouse, love your spouse with such a perspective that you will stand before the Lord Jesus and give an account for every single word spoken, every single deed done, every single way you responded, and every single thought you had toward your spouse. Live with this eternal mindset and let that guide, guard, and govern how you think, talk, and live today.


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