Honoring God in Our Marriages
When we walk in the power of the Spirit, we will be filled with both joy and gratitude. First Thessalonians 5:16–18 teaches us that this joy and gratitude are not part time; instead, we are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in every moment.
This includes the hard thanksgiving—choosing to thank God even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Gratitude for God’s goodness, compassion, and grace is the best response when our circumstances are painful; this does not mean we love the adversity itself, but it means that we recognize that God’s plans are ultimately for our good
This same principle is found in Ephesians 5:20, immediately preceding Paul’s discussion of how we are to love and treat one another. Out of our joy, love, and gratitude in Christ, we are to love others. As we keep in step with the Spirit, recalibrating our lives to obey His voice, we will approach our relationships with love. This is because “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Choosing the Deeds of Love
The first relationship Paul addresses is the marriage relationship. When we are controlled by the Spirit, it is possible for us to honor God in our marriages. The Spirit enables us to do the deeds of love even when we don’t feel like it. After all, there will be numerous times when those feelings are not present. But God calls us to choose the best for the other person.
When we do the deeds of love, gradually those feelings can actually return. This is a steadfast love, a covenant love—it lasts over time because it is not dependent on our own feelings but is other-centered. We cannot do this on our own; instead, we have to depend on the Spirit to work in us.
Part of choosing the deeds of love is also developing a good perspective on our spouse. How do we view them? If we constantly choose to view them in terms of their shortcomings, we will not be loving them well. There will always be aspects of our spouse that annoy us, but focusing on that will harm our relationship. Instead, we need to view our spouse in the best light, welcoming the counsel of our spouse.
As we approach this often misunderstood passage on our relationships, we need to remember that Paul begins this section in Ephesians 5:21 by telling us to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” We are all under the authority of Christ, and the way we treat one another in our relationships is meant to reflect Christ.
There is an operational dynamic in the way our relationships work; but as we recognize this dynamic, we need to remember that this does not promote inequality. Instead, this reflects the divine Trinity; the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all equal in their intimate relationship, but each has a different operational dynamic.
This does mean that Paul calls wives to submit to their husbands in order to honor them, and it also means that Paul calls husbands to love their wives—not to lead them by demanding obedience or ruling over them, but sacrificing for them. This relationship of mutual love and respect points to a deeper mystery, that of Christ and the Church.
Honoring God in Our Marriages
This content on the reliability of the Bible was originally printed in Decision Magazine. False Impressions “I don’t want to take a bath—I’m clean enough!” My impassioned protests as a six-year-old at bedtime were quickly rebuffed by this powerful tool from my parents’ arsenal of guilt-inducing mottoes: “The Bible says that cleanliness is next to godliness!” […]